Planning: The 4th Cornerstone of Performance Oriented Cultures

Strategic planning creates the platform for a healthy company. Strategic planning is a critical part of growing a successful business. A high performance work culture needs a system that makes sure that employee goals are aligned and everyone is focused on the right stuff. The fact is that many small-to-midsize companies do not have a structured process from which to conduct strategic planning. This is like many adults who do not exercise, despite knowing it’s good for them. Perfect health isn’t guaranteed by regular exercise, but the likelihood of attaining good health is dramatically increased. Strategic breakthrough business guessing/planning works for businesses in much the same way as exercise works for the individual. The process should take place over two to three months and take three to four days. It is predicated on White Papers and dialogue. Listening and understanding are critical. Better research ensures better debate and thinking. “What is a White Paper?” you ask hysterically. A White Paper is a three-to- five page paper that addresses the critical issue. The paper should deal directly with the issues. It is, with research and analysis, the “answer” submitted by the smaller group to the entire planning team. Once you have created the plan, you need to make sure it is acted upon. Monthly meetings of one to three hours and spending time on objectives and action plans will ensure focus. Then, once a quarter, the planning team should meet offsite, preferably with a coaching resource like yours truly (bonus points if the coach is bald-headed; it makes the coach smarter and buffer…really!) At the session, the group will look at...

Mission & Values: the 3rd Cornerstone of Performance Oriented Cultures

Create a corporate mission & values that employees are aligned with. The foundational material—mission and values—of a company can be critical to the overall success of the organization – but they’re often forgotten. The corporate mission and values are created by the senior leadership team, captured on posters, and strategically tacked up around the building. Meanwhile, how does a corporate citizen react to this phenomenon? They see it as “horse manure!” Whatever is in the mission or values statement is not seen as relevant to the organization’s day-to-day operations. In other words, the organization’s behavior is not congruent with its declaration of ideals. However, at their best, a mission (or “reason for being”) and values give an organization a future to live into. This potential future galvanizes and focuses the organization. Whether or not goals are met entirely, movement toward them develops teamwork and is valuable to the company. So how do organizations get to this point? Some of the following thinking and exercises were inspired by an article called “Building Your Company’s Vision,” by Collins and Porras, the authors of Built to Last. In the article, the authors describe how to write a reason for being and values. When thinking about your company’s mission, think about purpose. Ask participants in your session to consider the following: What is the purpose of your organization? What would be lost if the organization ceased to exist? What kind of organization would you work for regardless if you got a salary or not, etc. Now onto values. In this process when I say “values,” I mean the right behaviors that will support...

Teams: the 2nd Cornerstone of Performance Oriented Cultures

Have High Performance Work Teams throughout your company. Teams are powerful constructs, and high-performance ones do not spring up by magic. By the same token, business teams are not the answer for every performance issue. In corporations, while the talk is about teams and working together, there is actually a focus on individual performance. For the most part, there is no formal practice designed to enhance or improve group performance. High-performance teams are “a small number of people with complementary skills who are equally committed to a common purpose, goals, and a working approach in which they hold themselves mutually accountable.” This definition of real teams comes from the article “The Wisdom of Teams”, by Katzenbach and Smith. Real teams are basic units of performance, and members of the team are mutually accountable for the results. This is quite different from how most of the work world is organized. When a group takes on mutual accountability for their customers’ experiences, it can generate real customer-focused actions. From this, tangible and positive business results will occur. At my favorite restaurant, for example, the waiter greets me with my preferred glass of wine, letting me know that Chuck, the chef, has a special dish waiting for me. Everyone is clearly into giving me a personalized, pleasant experience, and I have not even ordered yet. I have found that having a team design its structure allows the team to develop and perform more quickly. This is because in doing so, the team has to confront the performance issues it will encounter. The process allows for those issues to come to the forefront...

Staffing: The 1st Cornerstone of a High Performance Culture

Staff with the best – mediocrity can work with your competition. This is the mantra of a high performance culture. As business people, we do not directly control terrorist plots, the economy, our competition, taxes, healthcare plans, or national events. But even with unions, executives and managers do ultimately control who works in the company. We should make the most of this opportunity and leverage the “people piece” to enhance our companies’ performance advantage.   Here are some suggestions for raising performance and driving out mediocrity from CMI’s A,B,C process:   1. Educate managers: Help them understand the definitions of A, B, and C players. 2. Jointly gauge employee performance: At specific meetings, managers should jointly assess employee performance.  Only those who interact directly with the employee should state their opinions. This allows the employee’s manager to get candid feedback. In assessing performance, avoid grey areas – no pluses and minuses – managers must make a choice whether the employee is an A, B, or C player. 3. Take action. Ditch the D’s and F’s’: D and F employees will drag your company down. If you have more than a few D and F employees, sell the firm and do something to save yourself. Decide what to do with your C players. C players are mediocre employees; these employees are marginal in their performance and unremarkable in any positive attribute they bring to the workplace. They exist, take up space, and just get their jobs done, sort of. A test for “C-ness” is putting yourself in this scenario: If one of these employees came up to you and said they...

Bruce’s Book Review – Traction by Gino Wickman and Mike Paton

Traction is a must read for anyone building a company.  Whether you are a start up,  a growing $20 million business, or anything in between this book has something for you.  As you know, I am not a guy in the diner about growing companies . I have been successful in being a resource to companies so that they successfully grow.  Another way of putting this is that I am great compost for growing companies.  When I read Traction and I have probably wandered around its pages at least 10 times since I read it six years ago, my reaction is always the same…”oh wow that is a great idea, oh there is a powerful process, and hey I could have written this book”.  Only I did not. Traction is full of great ideas.  There is an audit included in the book that I have many clients  take.  The audit helps  pinpoint where as a organization you need to develop yourself.  This book is a must read for the leadership team of your organization.  After everyone takes the audit, you can then compare scores and get aligned on what to work on.  The author presents a system of growing and structuring a company.  What is great is that you do not have to adopt the system and you can pick and choose what to utilize. The book has ideas on how to focus and how to structure meetings.  One idea that I have taken from this book is the one-page plan with a focus on quarterly organizational  rocks.  This book is a classic and the ideas are classic and...

The 4 Cornerstones of a High Performance Culture

If culture was a pyramid, there would be four cornerstones: staff, teams, purpose & values, and strategic planning. At the apex of the pyramid would be a work culture that attains performance beyond expectations. the cornerstones would be defined by the following: Staffing your organization with the best employees. Teams that are high performance teams Corporate mission and values that everyone is aligned with A complete and implemented Strategic Business Plan Only a pyramid with all four of these cornerstones will create a foundation stable enough for an ongoing high performance culture. What follows is an explanation of how to create these four cornerstones.  These will appear in the next couple weeks of posts.   To learn more about building a high performance culture click here.    ...

Check this out! Bruce’s Article – “Great Customer Service is a Spot of Bright Sunlight on a Dark, Stormy Ocean” published by Training Magazine!

I’d like to share a secret with you.  It is about having satisfied and loyal customers.  It is simple.  It always works, and it is so underutilized. In the real world, I find that my business service interactions are non-descript, tactical interactions.  Service gets delivered and you give money to whomever is delivering the service.  It is all matter of fact without any kind of significance.  It gets done…it gets delivered.  Yet occasionally, I have service that puts a smile on my face, makes me more loyal, makes me more likely to come back.  It happens.  Not often, but occasionally. And that leads to my secret:  Great Customer Service is like a spot of bright sunlight on a dark, stormy ocean. Read...

Building a G.R.E.A.T. Company | What is T?

Components of a G.R.E.A.T. Company V T: Teamwork and Transformation. Great companies are not groups of individual agents with everyone doing their own thing. Instead, they are focused places where collaboration and involvement are the currency. Employees know that customers experience the company as a whole and that any negative experience from anywhere in the company can sour the relationship. It takes a whole company to make a customer wildly loyal. Transformation means that the company touches its employees in meaningful ways. People see themselves differently due to their relationship with the company. Employees are committed for having worked there, customers are loyal for having bought there, and owners are invested for having generated a company that makes a difference. Great companies do more than just provide a service and generate a product. There is clearly a much bigger game that molds, impacts, and transforms the lives that they touch. Want to create a collaborative and transformational work culture?  Visit CMI’s...

Building a G.R.E.A.T. Company | What is E?

Components of a G.R.E.A.T. Company III E: Entrepreneurial Great companies engage in proactive and creative actions and activities. They focus on cutting costs and thinking about ways to improve efficiency. They create a culture where employees proactively make things happen rather than standing around waiting for orders. Great companies know their destiny is in the hands of their employees, and they get them actively engaged in creating a bright future. Interested in taking control of your company’s future?  Visit the CMI...

Building a G.R.E.A.T. Company | What is A?

Components of a G.R.E.A.T. Company IV A: Attitude. While “entrepreneurial” and “generous” speak to this type of attitude, great companies also exhibit plenty of spunk, vim and vigor. They have attitude with a capital A. This may mean going the extra mile for the customer. It may mean being on time, no matter what. It may mean that top executives double up in hotels to cut costs and contribute to their profit. Whatever the context, great companies exhibit an attitude and view of the world that clearly sets them apart. Want to change your company’s attitude?  Visit CMI’s...