Don't Let Trends Lead You Astray

In 1984 parachute pants were “in style.” I was in college and owned a pair of those trendy tight-fitting pants. I wore them twice and never wore them again. Ripstop nylon wasn’t exactly a breathable fabric and the teal color certainly stood out in a crowd. Looking back, I laugh and know that’s a trend I would have been best to ignore. Those pants were designed for somebody, but certainly not for the 6-foot-tall, 200-pound version of me.

There’s No Magic Pill

When you follow trends, especially in business, you may gain short-term progression or attention, with the trade-off being the loss of long-term focus connected to your goals, objectives, vision or identity.

The phrase “there’s no magic pill” exists to remind us that consistency beats trends regularly.

Want to lose weight? Consistency. Want to improve your physical ability? Consistency. Want to expand your book of business? Consistency. Want to build wealth through investing? Consistency. Want to reduce or eliminate debt? Consistency. Want to develop people to think differently? Consistency. Want to improve at something? Consistency. Want to grow a company? Consistency.

Consistency isn’t trendy… it’s consistent. It offers stability apart from variation or contradiction.

The Critical Question

There are a lot of things that chasing trends can cause you to do. Some of them good and some not so good. Here’s a critical question to ask yourself.

What does establishing consistent performance require me to do individually and/or organizationally?

Consistency doesn’t require you to forego an awareness and connectivity to trends. Chasing trends may, however, cause you to forego consistency in your sales performance, leadership or business evolution.

It’s a Matter of Discipline

In a practical sense, defying trends is about two things:

  1. Definition - Knowing who you want to be as a professional and/or what you want your company to be in the marketplace.
  2. Discipline -   Working consistently and relentlessly toward the definition of your identity versus letting a trend take you somewhere else, in an alternate direction or someplace you were never intended to go.

Thoughtstarter

You Do You is a trendy phrase/idea being featured in a variety of commercials and on billboards across the country. While it’s trendy, it’s also a great call for clarity about people being the people they want to be in the world. Here are a couple of connected thoughtstarters that will help you move beyond being trendy.

  • Before you can do you, you must first define who you want to be as a person. This is about understanding your identity.
  • In order for you to do you, you must consistently and relentlessly work with the awareness of knowing who you are as a person, leader, friend and more.

Think about it for a while.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


Are You a Thermostat or a Thermometer?

Thoughtstarter

Take a minute to ask yourself this question. Are you a thermostat or a thermometer?

The Difference

A thermometer tells you the temperature in the room; it reacts to the environment around it. A thermostat sets the temperature of a room; it regulates an environment.

Thermometer leaders consistently react to the situations and conditions they confront. Their reaction is often driven by the environment that’s created for them rather than one they define.

Thermostat leaders regulate their business environment and don’t settle for less than defined best practices. It’s uncommon for a thermostat leader to compromise the standards that they’ve established for themselves.

5 Compromises You Should Never Make When it Comes to Workplace Excellence

As a leader, setting the temperature of your environment begins with understanding the climate you want to create. Here are five factors that thermostat leaders regulate continually.

  1. The Hiring Process
    My belief is that people are the foundation of your business. That being said, why is it that so many leaders fail to connect the hiring/selection process to their business in a meaningful manner? Belief in their “gut feel” creates a compromise that is problematic at best and catastrophic in a worst-case scenario.  A best practice option is to take a balanced approach that considers both the subjective factors (gut, experience, and likeability) and the objective factors (behaviors, driving forces, competencies, and capacity) related to hiring ideal candidates. You may want to check out the recent Thoughtwave on selection fatigue.
  2. Safety
    Nobody wants to go home differently than they came to work as a result of a workplace injury. That’s why best practices related to creating a safe work environment must be clearly defined and enforced relentlessly with consistency. Easy to say and far harder to ensure, if best practices regarding safety are allowed to go undefined or be compromised regularly. Non-negotiable would be the term that best describes the required attitude by leaders related to applying the best practices of safety in their organization.
  3. Personal Standards
    There’s a difference between a compromise that’s mutual and compromising your standards simply to make someone else feel comfortable. Defining personal standards is a choice. Leading from those standards is about defining a set of personal best practices. How others feel about those standards is largely irrelevant as long as they aren’t destructive to you, others or your company. Mediocrity, in the form of people who want you to lower or abandon your standards, has a way of trying to chip away and erode what they may feel is too demanding or intense for them individually. Let me be clear. This is not your problem to resolve.
  4. A Culture of Communication
    Awareness is a powerful ally of excellence. Communication is a foundational element of awareness. Defining an environment where the two go hand-in-hand sets the tone for better insights, interaction, and decisions. The impact to a defined standard comes in the form of optimized results. These are the most effective results possible and the factor that establishes impact and differentiation is communication.
  5. Personal Accountability
    Being answerable for your individual actions sets the leadership temperature for your team. It’s about being willing to take ownership and accept personal responsibility for the outcomes. This begins with the ability to proactively self-evaluate every aspect of your leadership and see new possibilities by examining your personal approach. Thermostat leaders define their successes and mistakes and make them a part of their leadership progression and evolution.

Final Thought           

As you go through the week, think about whether you set the temperature or tell the temperature.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. Are there any other factors you would add to the list to ensure workplace excellence? Let me know in the comments.


Why Reading Requires Focus

You can’t believe everything you read. True statement. Here’s an even truer statement. You shouldn’t act on everything you read.

As a leader, reading is imperative. Reading engages your brain and sharpens your perspective. Reading is a great way to expand your awareness and knowledge. It’s about developing the ability to consider ideas that go beyond the scope of your own thinking.

Common Sense Before Book Sense

You’re never too young to read or too old. Reading something is better than reading nothing. From blogs to books, feeds to articles, online sources to print publications, short form or long form, reading is more about what interests you than what bores you.

There are two perspectives about reading that must be understood.

  1. Reading offers a distinct competitive advantage for leaders.
  2. Leaders who don’t read limit their capacity for growth.

This is about common sense more than it’s about book sense. It goes beyond the belief that knowledge is power. It’s about recognizing that the application of knowledge is where the real power of reading is discovered.

Seven insights about how I focus my reading:

  1. I read relentlessly.
  2. I read practically.
  3. I read beyond the boundaries of my preferences.
  4. I commit to reading something that expands my view every day.
  5. I set a goal for the number of books I want to read in a year. (This year that goal is 8).
  6. I don’t read about things that don’t interest me.
  7. I read with focus because I can’t, and shouldn’t, act on everything I read.

BTW -  Right now, I’m reading a book titled The American Entrepreneur by Willie Robertson. This is a book about the daring movers and shakers who dreamed big and risked everything to build better lives.

Thoughtstarter: Adapt, Adopt, Abandon

Reading requires focus because every idea read isn’t a call to action to change something within yourself or within your company. Sometimes reading is simply about…well... reading.

Let me encourage you to start reading if you’re not and keep reading if it’s already become a habit. Saying that you don’t read because you don’t like to read is about justification ahead of development. Think of it this way…

Would you want a surgeon to operate on you that hadn’t expanded their view both intellectually and experientially on surgical techniques and methods over the last 25 years?

Before you read, understand whether what you’re reading is more about your enjoyment or your education. Sometimes you won’t know until you’re done reading. Regardless, any reading expands your awareness.

When you read for insight and knowledge, ask yourself this question to help bring clarity to your reading.  “Should I adopt, adapt or abandon this idea?” Think of this like your reading filter.

When you choose to adopt an idea, it’s because it offers you something. It’s like a best practice that fulfills something you want and helps to generate a result. In the same way, it’s okay to acknowledge that someone else’s good idea doesn’t have to immediately become your best practice. It’s okay to recognize that what worked well for someone else may not be the best option for you, but you can adapt it to work for you. Perhaps most importantly, it’s okay to read something and realize that what worked for someone else won’t work for you and you can abandon the idea.

The most important thing to remember? Read.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. What are you currently reading? Let me know in the comments.


Start. Stop. Continue.

Designing a strategic plan simply for the sake of the exercise is a waste of time. Along with the plan, action is required. Defining a plan and then failing to act doesn’t equal results.  Understanding and executing around a set of required actions, used as measures of success within your company, may be far more productive.

What Does Action Planning Look Like?

If you or your company are looking for an effective way to advance initiatives, consider three simple words...Start. Stop. Continue. Why wouldn’t you start doing things that will improve your performance or business, stop doing things that are detrimental or unproductive, and continue best practices that are already contributing to success?

If you want to improve a team, department, or your entire business it’s imperative to take the time to reflect on what’s going well, what isn’t going well, and what could be improved. Start, Stop, Continue allows your team to create an action plan for improvement. Here’s how it works...

#Thoughtstarter

Hang three large posters on the wall. The posters will need to be labeled:

  • Start
  • Stop
  • Continue

Provide everyone on your team a pad of sticky notes. Tell them they are to keep their sticky notes private; they’ll have the opportunity to share their ideas with the group later. Provide the group 10-15 minutes and allow them to list actions they believe the group should start doing, stop doing, and continue doing, a separate note for each action.

When time is up allow participants to place their sticky notes on the corresponding posters. Then, encourage the group to work together to group the sticky notes by related ideas.

Next, facilitate a discussion to confirm that everyone agrees that the actions have been placed into the correct categories.

Lastly, provide everyone a marker and allow them to put a tally next to what they believe to be the top 2-3 actions to start doing, stop doing, and continue doing. The actions with the most tallies are your priorities.

When you complete the exercise, you will have an action plan that was determined and directed by the team. You’ve used a simple process that allows the individuals participating to assess themselves and the team while defining next directed steps that are immediately actionable at all three levels.

The next time, you feel a bit frustrated by strategy, consider three simple questions to get your thinking and action moving in a positive direction.

  1. What do we need to start doing?
  2. What do we need to stop doing?
  3. What do we need to continue doing to advance performance/results?

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. What did you discover by utilizing this exercise? Let me know in the comments.


Email is Imploding as a Method of Communication

Email is imploding. Why? The breakdown in understanding and valuing communication awareness and effectiveness among people sharing ideas.

You’ve Seen This Happen

Recently, I watched two individuals who were working on the same project, in the same work area, exchange their thoughts and ideas with each other solely via email and text. There was no interpersonal interaction, communication or understanding. They could have easily had a face-to-face/one-to-one collaboration and conversation. They chose instead to exchange and expand complex thoughts around a complex project via an electronic interaction. It’s no wonder that when I sat in on the meeting in which their ideas were challenged directly that their thought process collapsed.

The problem? They had exchanged emails and texts; they hadn’t built the relationship of interaction, understanding and communication.

It’s happening more and more in workplaces and in homes… people have exchanged interpersonal interaction and conversation for soundbites, tidbits and broad interpretation.

Suddenly, the phone seems completely revolutionary and relevant again as a means to have a conversation that allows people to expand their interactions beyond one dimensional.

Get Your Butt Out of Your Chair

If the phone is revolutionary in expanding communication, then getting face-to-face and one-to-one is flat out disruptive and an idea to be maximized.

Here’s a suggestion. The next time you have to communicate with someone who’s in close proximity to you, and you think about sending an email or text, get your butt out of your chair and go talk to them - have a meaningful conversation about the topic.

Need to have a challenging conversation with a customer or client? Pick-up the phone and call them. Does a really challenging situation with a client require real face-to-face awareness and insight? Make the investment… go see them. You may be surprised at what this does to deepen your relationship, define a competitive differentiator and increase your value.

Same Problem Different Technology

In an era in which technology is viewed as contributing to our effectiveness and efficiency, it may be worth a look back to Circa 1990 to recognize that as much as things change, they truly remain the same. Check it out here and you’ll have a better understanding of my perspective and purpose around direct communication and interaction.

Email, just like fax machines, isn’t an effective method of communication when used one-dimensionally or incorrectly. Technology certainly doesn’t offer a method of interpersonal communication.

Let’s not be delusional. I use text, email and other forms of technology daily. I also invest the majority of my day either on the phone with clients or working with them face-to-face. The result?  Greater clarity, less misinterpretation and differentiated understanding. Why? Because direct interaction and communication matter.

#Thoughtstarter

Technology has expedited communication, but in so many cases has failed to make it more effective.  Email does not allow someone to convey their thoughts as accurately as they could face-to-face.

Email is imploding. It shouldn’t be your primary source of communication, rather it should be a supplement to your differentiated one-to-one plan and interpersonal strategy.

Earlier this month I discussed casualization of the workplace and lowering your standards simply because it is viewed as acceptable to others. Don’t allow email to become another casualization trap. Stand apart and be the person who excels at interpersonal communication.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


Why Casual Conversations Create Organizational Chaos

Take Note

The problems and challenges within an organization are directly related to not only a lack of communication, they’re directly related to the casualness of many conversations. As a company grows, these one-off conversations have the potential to create a level of chaos that is both counterproductive and destructive to organizational advancement and effectiveness.

The Cornerstone of Success

Communication is the cornerstone of your company’s evolution and the direct outcome of growth. So, while every communication doesn’t have to be structured, every conversation can’t be casual.

I see it all the time in family business. The business starts as a small enterprise and the entrepreneur becomes comfortable with communicating in a one-to-one manner throughout the entire company. In that stage of a company’s growth, it represents the quickest and most effective path to results. Then the business grows, and grows some more. Then the business achieves exponential growth. The owner eventually finds that what s/he communicates to one individual is passed through the organization, one person to the next, and by the time it reaches its final destination is a much different message than it was originally. “This isn’t the way it used to be,” they can be heard saying in a frustrated tone. The good news is that the company’s success has fueled a requirement for a more enhanced system of communication. The bad news is that many leaders are so slow to recognize this changing dynamic.

“If communication is so important to the success of any enterprise or relationship, why is it that people are so slow to recognize the changes that have to occur to make it more effective?”

“As a company grows exponentially, the process of communication must evolve as well in order to achieve the intended outcomes and desired results.”

“Communication wasn’t intended to be continuously random.”

Absolute Importance

The evolution and effectiveness of communication within a growing enterprise is based on leaders recognizing the absolute importance of advancing the communication cadence, sequencing and systems. So, what does this look like? Depending on the size of the company, you may find some or all of these options applicable:

  1. Engage team-members/employees one-to-one on a regular basis. Use this time to discuss what has gone well and what hasn’t gone well over a period of time and adjust as needed.
  2. Implement daily and weekly connections among departments and teams that are concise and purposeful. Use this time to connect and communicate on all priorities.
  3. Don’t let communication become bureaucratic or unnecessarily complex. In other words, don’t trade common sense for processes and procedures that make no sense in moving communication forward.
  4. Teach people what effective communication looks like and doesn’t look like specifically.
  5. Create a system for how information should flow through your organization so that communication is based on the required connections between people.

 

#Thoughtstarter

Don’t assume that because someone has reached a certain position or level that they’ve mastered effective communication. Entrepreneurs, owners and senior leaders are often the primary source of communication chaos within their company. This is because they think of and reference communication based on what it was in the past rather than what it needs to be now and into the future.

The expression “if we aren’t growing, we’re dying,” can be heard in the hallways of companies around the world. Highly effective leaders within the most effective organizations give another context to this wisdom that goes like this... “If we aren’t communicating, were dying.”

Make no mistake that what you say matters and people listen.

It’s not about eliminating casual conversations. It’s about recognizing that, at some point, they must evolve and can no longer serve as the primary strategy for effective communication within a company. Growth demands that leaders become more purposeful than casual in their communication.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.


Casualization

I’m not quite sure where it all started. Casual Fridays? The home office? Aloha Friday? What began with an emphasis on relaxing the traditional dress code on one day of the week in the late 90’s has turned into the steady casualization of the American Workplace in appearance, mindset and behavior.

Let’s Be Honest

How often do you really associate sloppy appearance with an enhanced professional image or personal brand in the workplace?

When was the last time a casual mindset really struck you as forward-thinking and contributive?

Just because someone chooses not to wear socks with a pair of dress shoes doesn’t mean that the entire organization should adopt that as their new standard of appearance.

This isn’t about being judgmental or lecturing. I’ve dressed traditionally at work and I’ve dressed more casually. What I can definitively tell you in both cases is that it’s about attitude.

An Attitude of Professionalism

I don’t see the value in diminishing appearance simply for the sake of comfort. Just like I don’t value trendy simply because it’s well...trendy.

Granted, I’ve been referred to as hyper-professional on more than one occasion. There’s no doubt that I value the way I present and carry myself. I’d rather be known as hyper-professional than overly-casual. It’s an attitude.

We represent ourselves in how we look, behave and communicate and others determine how seriously we are to be taken based on these factors as well. When we over casualize anything we put our credibility and professionalism at risk.

The Practicality of it All

Have you ever noticed how people continually try to encourage and help you lower your attitude of professionalism simply to justify their own limited view?

I wear a suit on a regular basis. Recently, there’s been an uptick in the number of people who’ve commented that “wearing a suit is over the top and unnecessary in today’s business climate.” The two questions that run through my mind each and every time are the same.

“Is that a fact or is that your opinion?”
“Is your comment more about my attitude or is it more reflective of your attitude?”

For me, wearing a suit has nothing to do with today’s business climate or what someone says is required, preferred or in style. My appearance, and by extension my suit, reflects my attitude toward myself, my clients, our relationship and my mindset towards our work together.

Check out this Lifehack and you’ll gain immediate perspective on why an attitude of professionalism and corresponding appearance matter practically.

In 2010, just nine short years ago, UBS, a Swiss bank, published a 44-page manual for employees on how to dress. It included everything from practical advice such as, “"If you wear a watch, it suggests reliability and that punctuality is of great concern to you,” to the personal: "The ideal time to apply perfume is directly after you take a hot shower, when your pores are still open." While the employee dress manual was over-the-top, it acknowledges and re-enforces a simple and practical point for anyone who’s looking to influence outcomes and results.

Your attitude of professionalism and how you present yourself matters.

#Thoughtstarter

Don’t lower your standards to what others view as “the norm or acceptable”. Suit up and define your attitude of professionalism.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. Let me know your thoughts on casualization in the workplace in the comments.


Selection Fatigue - When No One is Right for the Job

Selection fatigue is real, and it tests the stamina of most managers at some point in their career.

Ultimately, many bad hiring decisions are connected to a lack of willingness to stay the course in finding a person who aligns well with the position rather than just finding a person to put in the position.

Sound illogical? Hardly. When it comes to selection and hiring, fatigue will pit logic and emotion against each other on a regular basis.

The Likeability Bias

Most often, with the exception of leaders who have learned through experience, emotion outpaces logic when selection fatigue sets in. Why? Because of something I refer to as the Likeability Bias.

That moment at which emotion overtakes logic in deciding who to hire because someone “likes” a candidate and believes that their “like” of the person will outpace the logic that clearly shows a lack of alignment between the person and the position.

To be clear… just because someone likes a person doesn’t mean they’re a qualified fit for the job.

The Scenario

Todd comes in for his interview and he’s instantly liked by Marsha who’s the hiring manager. Six other candidates have already been interviewed for the position. None of whom seemed like the right “fit”. Todd was sociable, personable, and shared many interests with Marsha.  As the interview progressed it was revealed that Todd was in a similar position with his current employer. During conversation, he openly, and in great detail, shared why things weren’t working out in his current situation and said that it wasn’t about the position, it was about the company. “Todd’s got potential that hasn’t been maximized in his current work environment,” thought Marsha. “Our position is more clearly defined and won’t present him with many of the challenges he currently faces,” she justified to herself.

Having completed the first interview, Marsha sent Todd a behavioral assessment. The assessment was a necessary part of her company’s selection process and would be compared to a benchmark that had been developed for the position. Marsha didn’t really agree with, or support, assessments because in her words she was an “experienced manager who had hired hundreds of people.” “My gut feel is my best guide,” she would often say about the people she hired.

The detailed output from the assessment showed that there was less than ideal alignment between the position and Todd. “What matters most is that he and I connected about the real-life requirements around the position and he fits our culture,” Marsha shared with her boss.

You can imagine how the rest of the scenario plays out… Todd is hired and Marsha and other leaders within the company become frustrated with him when he doesn’t fit the role the way that Marsha’s gut had predicted. The unnecessary amount of energy and dollars spent trying to “develop” Todd to fit the position were both real and could have and should have been avoided.

“I don’t understand. Everything went so well during the interview,” Marsha complained to her boss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Upside

Selection fatigue is like a virus and it can spread rapidly throughout those involved with hiring within your company.

The upside is, it’s curable.

Selection fatigue sets in when the people who are hiring become desperate and discouraged. Neither of which is a good place from which to make a decision about the people you hire. Here are three ways to overcome the discouragement and desperation associated with selection fatigue.

  1. Give up on the notion that perfect people exist. Getting more realistic begins with identifying the people that are the ideal fit for the position and the culture of the company.
  2. Actively look for blind spots that exist in the candidate and stop denying that they exist. Every candidate, just like every hiring manager, has them and the key is to have an awareness and understanding of what they are and how they impact performance, choices and decisions.
  3. Actively incorporate an objective resource, like a validated behavioral assessment, to the selection process and balance the subjective nature of the likeability bias in hiring decisions.

 

#Thoughtstarter

So, what happens when you feel like you’ve exhausted your candidate pool and you still haven’t aligned the ideal candidate with the role?

You stay the course and stay focused on a disciplined selection process. Don’t begin to make decisions from the space of desperate or discouraged. Sounds agonizing doesn’t it? Here’s what’s more agonizing - hiring someone who doesn’t align with what the position requires, who isn’t a good fit with the company culture, and/or who flat out doesn’t have the skills or experience necessary to succeed.

When you put someone into play that is aligned for the position, you receive great results. When you put someone into play that is not aligned to the position, you’re intentionally making a decision that minimizes results.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. Share your thoughts in the comments.


Remember, There Are People at the Other End of Your Decision

Your decisions matter and the impact of your decisions almost always extends beyond you.

Click on the following link to understand in 15 seconds exactly what I mean.

The Impact of Your Decisions

Why This Matters

Someone I respect once said, “Brent, always remember at the other end of your decision there’s a human being. Every single time a decision is made, SOMEONE is impacted.”

His inference was clear, concise and directed and here’s my interpretation:
Don’t let your decisions get so far beyond the people you lead that you forget about the impact to the people you lead.

This is one of those “nuggets of wisdom” that you want to keep top of mind. It’s so powerful that it should cause us to constantly evaluate our decisions and not just from the view of our own lens.

Consider the Context

A decision made in isolation is a decision destined to create some dynamic of disruption and I don’t mean a positive disruption.

Every decision has context. Each decision has reach. Decisions are connected to impacts and outcomes. When decisions are made in isolation, it’s often because we fail to consider the context, reach or impact on others.

This is why, on so many occasions, leaders are left wondering how one decision could have such a devastating impact on so many people.

The answer… a failure to consider the context.

The Benefit of Context

We’re all guilty of failing to consider context at some point or in some situation or around a specific decision.

Typically, 90% of my day is invested in listening to leaders and asking the questions that reveal context. The benefit of context is the ability to assess our decisions more completely before we make them and yet, purposefully understanding context is a work in progress.

Before there was experience, there was inexperience. Before there was understanding, there was a lack of understanding. Before there was wisdom, there was less insight. Before there was listening, there was talking. Before there was attention, there was distraction. Before there was awareness, there was a lack of awareness. This is the progression of my growth related to context. Can you relate?

Early in my career as an advisor I was introduced to a really bright business owner. As a person eager to make his mark, Jared had his company on the grow and had decided that it was time to take his company to the next level. He asked for my guidance and input on the addition of sales staff. The conversation was fast-paced and driven. Jared was intent on building the base of his business by building a sales team. What Jared needed was the consideration and questions that would lead him to context. What Jared got was the support of his idea because I believed he was on the right track and our conversation revealed that he had thought it through well. With the exception of one critical question related to how he was structuring the two divisions of his company.

After a lot of time and work had been invested on both our parts, I asked Jared a question about how he planned to handle the separation of the divisions. His comment was telling. “Why didn’t you ask me that question before now? That question would have been really useful before we got to this point.”

Lesson learned - Always work to consider the context!

The impact of your decisions almost always extends beyond you. As an advisor to leaders of businesses, experience has shown me that when context is considered deliberately, the development of people and results achieved are both exponentially impacted in a positive way. This awareness leads me to this question. “How is your leadership expanding the context and understanding of the leaders you’re developing?”

#Thoughtstarter

As you go through your week, invest the time to consider your awareness around the context of your decisions. Consider the impact of your decisions so that they are fully understood. Ask yourself this question:

What’s the impact that extends beyond you?

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


7 Universal Truths to Prevent Stagnancy in Your Business

While attending the TTI Success Insights Global Conference on Human Potential this past January - Molly Fletcher, one of the keynote speakers, quoted Tom Izzo who said, “You better be better than your problems.” This immediately caught my attention because if you want to be better than your sales and margin problems, it’s imperative that stagnancy isn’t your primary strategy.

Stagnancy Stinks

If your sales are sluggish, it may be because your customer base has gotten a bit stale.

If your gross margin isn’t where you want it to be, it may be because you’ve failed to advance your pricing strategy with you customers.

If you fail to refine your customers and define the relationship, it’s entirely possible that the foul odor you smell is the stagnancy of an approach that lacks awareness.

Universal Truths

While every company’s strategy is unique, there are some universal truths, connected to the life-cycle of businesses that are essential to preventing stagnancy from rooting its way into your company.

Click image to enlarge:

Course of Action

The key to defining strategy and avoiding stagnancy is to be informed and aware of key insights in relationship to the universal truths. This is about defining the time necessary to dedicate the effort and emphasis necessary to analyze, think, plan, execute and measure.

Ask yourself how often you find yourself in action toward an objective without defining and naming the real problem, concern or challenge you’re trying to tackle. At some point action simply for the sake of action is counterproductive. What’s key is getting to the root cause and making sure that the action is directed in a way that advances your business and prevents stagnancy.

This is really about common sense. Establishing a course of action to prevent stagnancy begins with the knowledge that you possess about your business or something that you learn as a result of analyzing information related to your business.

Here are seven action steps connected with the universal truths above:

  1. Consistently and continually review and refine your customer/client base.
    Establish common sense criteria that allow you to know and understand your customer/client at a deeper level. What are their needs? What are their priorities? What are the challenges they’re confronting. Where do they have blind spots that are evident to you?
  2. Adjust pricing regularly and frequently in today’s variable business climate.
    This allows you to stay ahead of the curve rather than behind the curve. Think about how hard it is to catch up on pricing, and margin, when you fall behind what were the required adjustments.
  3. All customers aren’t created equal. Establish awareness within your organization about customer segmentation and what customers represent the top 25%, the middle 50% and the bottom 25%.
    This allows you to engage conversations that are directly related to emphasis and prioritization and define why all customers truly aren’t equal.
  4. Define a level of service that the customer should expect and deliver on that expectation consistently.
    Truly great service is rare and yet every customer deserves great service when they interact with your organization. Experience has shown me that leaders who understand the relationship between universal truths 3 and 4 are leaders who generate greater sales growth, customer loyalty and margin in their business.
  5. Train every salesperson in your company to understand the business of their business and have regular conversations with their customers about key impacts and variables.
    Not only will you see increased margins, you will also witness increased customer trust and connection. No one likes surprises, and no one likes an unaware and uninformed salesperson.
  6. Identify key indicators that are important to your company when considering the impact of your customers.
    Some examples:

    1. Sales dollars
    2. Margin dollars
    3. Number of transactions per customer and cost per transaction
    4. Frequency of transactions
    5. Number or products, services or lines purchased
  7. Define the commitment index of the client/customer on a scale from one to five with five being high and one being low.
    What is the level of mutual respect? How do they respond to normal business variations? When a difficult circumstance or conversation arises, how committed are you to each other?

Thoughtstarter

Invest the time over the next 7 to 10 days to consider how the universal truths and strategic insights apply to you, those you lead, your business unit or your company. If you were to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being high and 1 being low, where would you rate yourself and your team on advancing against stagnancy?

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.