The beginning of the New
Year is a good time to identify the future that has already
happened, but whose real impact has yet to be felt, and
adjust our business strategies to be in attune with
Here are three questions
to answer in evaluating your strategies to manage customer
relationships, productivity and profits in 2013:
1. What unexpected events
-- surprises, whether good or bad occurred in 2012
that could make or break your business?
We're talking here about
really big surprises -- like discovering that one of your
products is selling much better than expected -- and you
don't know why ...or... discovering that you are selling to
the wrong customers ...or... your product or service needs
to be revamped from top to bottom ...or... even discovering
you are in the wrong business.
For example, you may have
started your company to be in the software product business,
but month after month your computer consulting service
revenue far outpaces your software sales. This is a clue
that you should rethink your business strategy.
You may not need to switch
businesses, but, clearly, you should change your resource
allocation and operations in recognition that the company is
now consulting-services driven. With this altered strategy,
your software development efforts might better be redirected
toward providing a stronger competitive edge for securing
and maintaining consulting-service customers.
2. How can you protect
your customer franchise?
We know that it costs 8 to
10 times more to get a new customer as it does to keep a
current customer. Yet, the average business loses 10% to 30%
of their customers every year. The reason for this is
customer satisfaction does not equal customer loyalty. Of
the customers who defect, 80% are actually satisfied with
the company's service.
So, how does a company
build customer loyalty?
Single out your best
customers and create a strategy to serve them better in the
New Year. The old "80/20 Rule" applies: In an established
business, 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers.
These are the customers to focus on. If you don't know who
they are -- if you can't list them in order of decreasing
sales -- find out. Analyze your sales and make a list -- and
hang that list where you can see it every day. And every
day, ask yourself, "How can I build my sales with these
customers? How can I strengthen my relationship with them?"
3. What ways build
customer loyalty and expand your reach?
Gone are the days of the
geographically captive customer when merchants and service
providers had the advantage of being the only place within
With the impact of the
Internet, there is now a shift of choice and power to
customers. Think about how you can use the Internet to more
effectively communicate with your niche markets and special
interest groups. How can you refocus your efforts on being
the best company competing within these well-defined market
segmentsto become a dominant factor in 2013?
Here are some suggestions:
Look for ways of
maintaining an on-going flow of information with customers
through on-site visits, websites, email newsletters and
personal telephone calls. Think of them -- and try to get
them to think of you -- as a "business partner."
Make the effort to
learn their business so thoroughly that you can initiate new
areas of business activity between you and them to generate
more profit for both of you.
services preferably focused on your customer's needs
-- that demonstrate your attention to the small but
Think about adding
"loyalty" programs where you can reward your customers'
loyalty in ways that your competitors can't easily
Local businesses are
expanding their market presence and reach by connecting with
customers through the Internet. Even in cyberspace, the
velvet-glove treatment is what your customers
expect...or...they will shop elsewhere. Consider shifting
your limited resources to spend 70% devoted to creating
greater customer loyalty and only 30% on marketing expenses.
Real Job is Change
live in a world of permanent
whatever job title you hold, your real job is in fact
change. Yet, the majority of efforts to change
organizations fail: between 50% and 75% of change
Why do so many attempts at
organizational change fall short?
Certainly not for lack of
advice. These ideas matter and can prove most useful. This
psychological perspective taken alone, however, can promote
the belief that the success or failure of any given
organizational change effort comes down to motivating
individual members of the organization and that,
correspondingly, a leader's primary job comes down to
inspiring "the troops."
Such a belief can easily
lead to unfortunate attributions whenever individuals don't
change, namely marking individuals as the problem. The
person receives the label "resistant," and perhaps the
leader becomes stigmatized as "uninspiring." Altering the
attribution and recasting the challenge of resistance can
significantly improve the likelihood of success.
Change efforts fail for
1. Leaders present vague
and abstract change objectives: "Improve communication
between caregivers and patients and their families" or
"Increase profitability." Phrases like these mean different
They do not specify what to do or how to change.
2. Leaders underestimate
the power of the work environment to precipitate or stall
change. Many change efforts lack a coordinated or aligned
approach to designing the work environment. One aspect of
the environment tells people to make a change, while other
aspects of the environment signal to people to continue to
act as they always have.
by Gregory P. Shea, Ph.D., and Cassie A. Solomon will show
how to identify not the behaviors you are seeking to change,
but rather, those behaviors you want to see in place when
your change is complete.
organization isn't for the faint of heart. Doing so takes
patience, discipline, even courage. But it can be done. It
has been done successfully, time and again. And you can do
Our era is dominated by
the reality that change is constant. We all need to get
better at it--and sooner rather than later. You owe
yourself and the people depending upon your leadership no
P. Shea: Leading Successful Change: 8 Keys to Making Change
The mentor and
mentee relationship is one of mutual benefit.
the satisfaction of helping develop the talent and mentees
get access to "someone who has been there" as knowledge and
experience is shared from one generation to another. Many
successful people believe a key factor in their success was
and is having a mentor or coach. Mentoring programs have
become popular ways for organizations to groom "high
potential" employees for future leadership positions.
Companies are hot on the practice these days, believing it
encourages loyalty, diversity, and cohesion. Fully half of
the 500 biggest businesses in the U.S. now offer mentoring,
up from about 10% five years ago, according to Menttium
Corp., which sets up such programs for corporations.
takes on many forms.
Mentoring can be a one-shot intervention or a lifelong
relationship. It can be carried out informally, as
relationships develop on their own, or formally as part of a
highly structured program. One of the most common problems,
especially with formal programs, is simply that the mentor
and mentee are incompatible. Even the best intentions and
most thorough questionnaires can't always identify what
might really irritate you about the other person. Many
companies have discovered that it is best for
mentee to choose his or her
rather than having the company do the matching.
are three steps for preventing a brain drain where you
your vulnerabilities. Create an age profile of your
workforce by work unit or by function. Determine the average
age of employees in each unit and identify who's likely to
retire or leave the company for other reasons.
types of knowledge at risk. Use interviewing and social
network analysis software to find out what knowledge is most
valuable. This will help you decide where to focus your
your tactics. If you're focusing on transferring "tacit"
knowledge, or experience that is hard to catalog, establish
mentoring programs that bring older and younger workers
together for extended periods.
A survey of 3,000 leaders
and associates in 117 organizations reports that 63% plan to
increase spending on leadership
development programs that
75% of HR executives surveyed don't give a high quality
The paradox of
spending more on what's not working is due to leadership
development being seen as a classroom event. Yet, you don't
fix people by sending them off to executive education.
Managers need ongoing
coaching to get in
the habit of being
reported that two-thirds of the respondents said leaders at
their company exhibited at least one potentially fatal flaw
or "derailer"--a personality attribute that interferes with
Here are a few examples of derailers: an inability to
listen, lack of self-control, pessimism, self-centeredness,
know-it-all, not a team player. Derailers are more
personality-oriented than skill-based and are more difficult
to change than teaching someone a new
For all the money
spent on them, we still don't know if executive leadership
programs spent in the classroom work but we know that
leadership coaching does
Learning how to not micromanage, not be overly
concrete, not fail to explicitly state expectations
and other unproductive inter-personal behavior only happens
through the increased self-awareness
gained in a personal coaching or mentoring
coaching insights in
digestible bites allows for on-the-job application while
fitting easily into action-packed schedules. That's why
in leadership coaching is Leadership
a business transition through a cultural change, to deliver
dramatically increased value, is a tough assignment. Getting
the people side right can make all the difference. Business
transitions are times of heightened emotion where
perceptions, feelings and hunches trump
Everyone's decision making is emotional, not
rational...subconsciously under the control of their
emotional brain (limbic system), not their analytical
(neocortical) brain. When people make decisions, their
decisions are not just about rational data weighing of the
pros and cons. Buying a car, choosing a mate, selecting a
new home, following a career path, perceiving how the world
works is all decided emotionally. Emotion is always
operating below the surface and the executive doesn't
recognize how important his or her feelings are at the time
of the decision. That is why it is important to help leaders
of organizations to be emotionally stable, free from the
fear of failure, when making important decisions.
Albert Einstein once said, "We should take care not to
make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful
muscles but no personality. It cannot lead; it can only
Transformational leaders have a clear collective vision
and manage to communicate it effectively to all employees.
By acting as role models, they inspire employees to put the
good of the whole organization above self interest.
leaders know and
science has discovered emotionality's deeper purpose: the
timeworn mechanisms of emotion allow two human beings to
receive the contents of each other's minds. They are using
the power of emotion to get managers to innovate through
taking risks on-the-job.
Yet, after years of cost-cutting initiatives and growing
job insecurity, most executives don't feel like putting
themselves on the line. Add to that individual performance
incentives, where a one-year term determines a large bonus,
and investing in risky long-term payoffs takes a back seat.
Most managers postpone risky decisions for fear
not make the incremental mistakes that can lead to
innovative successes. That's why it is difficult to make the
shift from a play-it-safe
to an innovation-driven
Here in Metro Detroit, the automotive industry is
talking about innovation-driven cultures that are imperative
globally competitive world.
But where are the fearless transitional leaders that can
instill the confidence of automotive industry executives to
innovate? When will the Lee Iacoccas of the 1960s and
1970s reappear to overcome the present corporate paralysis?
Changing the organization's culture requires
or promoting emerging leaders
and helping them
get up-to-speed quickly.
Lee Iacocca's career within the automotive industry
illustrates how emerging leaders can change corporate
cultures to walk the talk of innovation. When the over
hyped, oversized and overpriced 1960 Edsel failed in the
marketplace, Ford Motor Company needed to listen to new
ideas from within the company. The introduction of the 1964
Ford Mustang was an innovative product tuned into customers'
call for stylish affordability. Iacocca went on to become
president of the struggling Chrysler Corporation where his
streamlining measures and new product innovations, including
the first innovative front-wheel drive Dodge Caravan
minivan, made the difference between failure and success.
When an industry or company is restructuring to survive
in the global economy, executives are all driven by the fear
of not surviving the transitional period and this fear can
adversely affect their decision-making abilities. The
turnaround wont be complete until the fear of failure
is confronted in the minds of the executive survivors.
After a corporate restructuring, it is important to
provide newly recruited or promoted executives with access
to inside mentors and outside
executive coaches who
can help their perceptions to evolve. Executives often leave
a coaching session feeling calmer, stronger, safer and more
able to manage within their corporate culture. With every
mentoring or coaching
executive learns to self-coachreducing
the dependency on the coach. The executives leadership
capacity grows and becomes a natural part of the self, like
knowing how to ride a bike or tie ones shoes.
Executives are then ready to guide the cultural
transition by instilling confidence in each employee's
ability to meet and overcome workplace challenges.
Confidence precedes competence. Each employee must first
believe he or she can succeed by developing a winning
attitude reinforced by skill-building practice.
As each person's talents are built into strengths and
then merged with others, a positive energy emerges. This
energy force builds and reinforces each individual's
confidence to create a critical mass. Then it is the
leader's job to keep the momentum going; so
as not to lose the positive energy
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more about John Agno, certified executive &
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