June 02, 2020
As employees begin slowly moving back to work in the post-COVID-19 world, things are not the same as they used to be. Wearing masks – at least for any interaction in the office, social distancing, frequent hand sanitizing – all are new behaviors we have had to adopt. But now is the time to consider longer-term impacts on your organization.
The pandemic disrupted firms' recruiting and hiring processes. Lack of networking opportunities when employees stopped attending conferences and society meetings has restrained the ability to find other people who might want to come to work for the firm. Many firms have put off hiring until this is all over, and in some cases, firms have withdrawn offers of employment they had already extended, fearing a continued economic fallout.
Now is the time to revisit your strategic plan and perhaps conduct some scenario planning. What if there is a resurgence of the virus in the fall? How does that impact your workforce? How do you re-energize your marketing approach in a post-COVID world? How will "work from anywhere" affect your firm on a more permanent basis? Should your real estate footprint be reconsidered as telework expands? Which markets in your portfolio need to be reviewed for growth and profit potential? Are new markets emerging?
Strategic planning should challenge you to reconsider what once were "sacred cows" and take a brutal look at the path forward.
If you would like help facilitating a revisit of your strategic plan, please give me a call.
Your Organization's Goals
June 13, 2018
I’ve been re-reading Stephen Covey’s book The 8th Habit. Covey cited a Gallup poll about how goals are communicated and achieved within organizations. The poll said only 15% of employees understand their company’s top priorities. Only 1 in 5 are passionate about their company’s goals. Most organizations spend only 49% of their time working on them. And 51% of employees don’t understand THEIR role in helping to achieve them. Those are scary numbers. They may have improved a little since the book was published, but I would guess the improvement is slight. That’s because leaders don’t always adequately communicate the goals. They are developed during a strategic planning retreat then gather dust on a shelf until the plan is again revisited. If you want the goals to become powerful and motivational, make them a part of the vocabulary. Talk about them in every staff meeting. Remind people through posters and whiteboard postings of what your firm is trying to achieve. Take the words off the page and make them alive. You’ll be surprised to see how quickly you will begin achieving them.
The Silence Is Deafening
April 18, 2018
Your quietest employees may be sending the loudest message. They won't speak it aloud unless you ask. But they likely have plenty to say about your tolerance for the non-performers.
The quiet ones are those who get things done. They work hard and efficiently every day and do their work done without complaint. They often pitch in when deadlines are tight with little thanks or recognition. They are your top performers.
Compare them to those whose job appears to be trying to convince others how busy they are. They often seem to be engaged in everything. In fact, they look busy. But check their productivity. When you tolerate non-performers in the workplace, you alienate your best employees. They pick up the slack for the “busy bee” who really doesn’t get things done but it builds resentment. They are waiting for you as the leader to have the courage to confront those who take home a paycheck but don’t earn it. Allow it to continue and you will soon find your top employees looking for greener pastures elsewhere. Corporate culture is a result of individual behaviors. Is your culture consistent with the corporate persona you try to project? Maybe it’s time to check in with your top performers and see what they think.
Expectations Unmet: Who's To Blame?
April 08, 2018
Whose fault is it when your employees don’t meet your expectations? Surprisingly, the blame may lie with you. I believe that most employees want to do a good job. Often, the failure is with the manager communicating expectations clearly enough. Remember the old game where one person whispers something to the person next to them, the next person does the same, until at the end of the line the message barely resembles what it started out as? The same thing can happen with setting expectations of your employees unless you have a feedback loop. Humans have an inherent ability to filter what they hear through the sieve of life experience. Here’s a straightforward way to ensure your expectations are clear while preserving the dignity of the employee. Take responsibility for the communication. Ask the employee to repeat back to you what they are planning to do to execute your instructions so you can be clear you have explained it well enough. That will ease the employee’s frustration – and yours
February 21, 2018
I was in Los Angeles this week and actually avoided going to a restaurant I had heard about after first reviewing the Yelp reviews. There were a few good ones, but they were far out-numbered by the negative ones. It made me think about how important a company's reputation is.
Benjamin Franklin said "It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it."
What do your clients think about your company? Good, bad, or indifferent? The American Customer Satisfaction Survey conducted by the University of Michigan says clients become most loyal when they have low expectations of performance and you exceed their expectations. That leads to high levels of satisfaction. If they expect you to do a good job and you do it, they are only "satisfied." That doesn't buy you loyalty in the long-term.
I've done lots of face-to-face client satisfaction surveys for my clients over the years. I've often found trouble lying just below the surface - not enough that the client has screamed and yelled, but enough that they are reconsidering doing business with that firm in the future.
Maybe it's time to visit with clients and check on your reputation before it leads to losing good clients.
A New Year - Time To Plan for the Future
January 05, 2018
How much of your day is spent thinking about the future? How much is consumed by the urgency of day-to-day operations? If it’s the latter, you may be neglecting a key role of leadership. It’s the job of leaders to think about and plan for the future. It’s the job of those you lead to take care of the present. They get the drawings out the door, deal with the daily crises and keep the clients happy. I know your day is also spent on those things, but it is important to carve out time of your schedule to focus on the future. What’s happening in the industry? How are client demands changing? Are we agile enough to respond? Are we prepared to meet the unique expectations of a workforce of millennials? Those questions are critical to the sustainability of an organization. If you as the leader aren’t trying to answer them, who is? It may be time to rethink your calendar and reprioritize.
The need for leaders in a recession
February 17, 2009
At a time when economic uncertainty affects the nation, organizational leadership becomes even more critical. Tough decisions need to be made to ensure a sustainable organization for the long haul. It’s a time when managerial courage is essential. And it’s also a time to reflect on how ready the next generation of leaders in your firm is to face the future.
A hallmark of leadership is the ability to make tough decisions for the future. It requires strategic agility -- that rare talent to anticipate the implications for the future of the decisions made today -- and to position the organization to prosper in the changing marketplace.
Are you ready for the future? If not, you may want to think about how you are preparing the next generation to lead your organization.
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