COMPANY VALUES CREATE THE CULTURE

Define your 10 commandments

Don’t forget to live by them. You are always on stage and always being watched. So be careful of the rules you make and the example you set. Everyone will copy your lead.

Articulate expected behaviors.

Always hold yourself to the highest standards but don’t be afraid to also be human and allow yourself to make mistakes. Just for fun, check your driver’s license and if it doesn’t say you are The All-mighty, you now have a license to make mistakes. In order to mitigate the impacts of those mistakes on your company’s culture, express what you expect from others. They need to do more than just try to be you.

Challenging people can really bring out the best in most so don’t be afraid to ask others to comply with X, Y, Z, professional standards. When you explain your expectations to others you give them a real chance to comply. Staff meetings, one-on-ones and town halls are all good forums to utilize. Just be clear and to the point about what you think is good and bad and why.

Treat the values like the Constitution.

They should be a source of strength and pride for your organization. They should provide for continuity and also adapt to the times, now and again. Revisit your values each year with your team and make sure they remain relevant. If so, carry on and if not, make adjustments. Dedicate a session to just this to ensure there is depth to the discussion and importance to the topic.

Don’t underestimate the importance of creating a coherent company culture. You want people to be at their best, especially when you aren’t around. Fortunately, there are tools like this (link) to help you learn more about this subject.

DELEGATE WHEN THE CONTROLS ARE IN PLACE

“To delegate doesn’t mean to abdicate. You are still on the hook for the results. Make sure that you can contain risks if need be and be wise about when and whom you empower.”

Establish authorities for key decisions and key people.

Knowing who should decide what, and when is a key task of a leader. Be thoughtful about your delegations because they can be disruptive, empowering, risky, or energizing. A lot of it has to do with the framework you establish and the understanding of the person being delegated to. A responsible step would be to make sure the person is not only capable to decide but also understands clearly what you are asking them to decide. Always ask them to repeat back to you the problem, solution and expected outcome to avoid surprises.

Review reports on all facets of your company so that the surprises are as few and far in between as possible.

An ex-President once said ‘trust but verify”. That’s a key component of the delegation formula. Make sure you are getting the results you want, from the risk you are taking by checking to see if the decisions are showing up in the numbers. If so, reward. If not, reassess. Waiting doesn’t make things better.

Perform audits on a routine basis to double-check whatever you are reading or being told.

It’s great to kick the tires but it’s better to do it systematically and independently. Audits are great for that. They can go where you can’t and help you see things more clearly. They are invasive to be sure, but politeness goes a long way in making people comfortable. Be thoughtful about when you use them because they can convey a lack of trust. But hey, don’t you want to know what is really going on? Audits can also help with accountability and ownership of issues. But never forget that you are dealing with people and therefore you must listen and talk.

Make sure to reinforce ownership by having feedback sessions with individuals and teams on a routine basis.

They all need to hear from you. If you can get this right, you can raise your company’s IQ points by the hundreds, have more satisfied employees and a better run company.

Don’t try to do everything by yourself because there is plenty of help out there like this (link).

FOR BETTER RESULTS, DO WHAT THE DATA TELLS YOU TO DO.

 

1.) Use Scorecards to keep track of the key variables that drive your company.

A scorecard is a management tool that synthesizes key data like growth, operations, talent and financials in one easy to read page and gives you a snapshot of your company’s performance. It can provide you a quick and easy to understand the 360-degree view of your company. It is entirely data-driven and can help you get into the habit of making key decisions with data as opposed to your gut feel, aka, opinions. You don’t need to know everything to navigate a start-up, but you do need to master the important things that are essential to your company’s performance. The best way to use it is to review it daily, share with your team in staff meetings and realign priorities as you develop your business.

2.) Perform external research to keep you current with competitors, customers, and trends.

Don’t become so internally focused that you forget there is a big world out there with creatures that want to eat your lunch, want more from you or are just plain changing. Try to learn something every day about the environment you operate in and you stand a much better chance of adapting and flourishing. Looking at other’s websites, getting exit interviews of customers, and attending conferences are all practical ways to assess trends in your segment. Reposition your activities if necessary but using external data to inform your decision making will help you keep your value proposition sharp.

3.) Review financial statements on a regular basis to make sure you have a handle on your profits.

Think Outside the Box

It’s not always easy to be different or to think outside the box, but it can go a long way when you are able to do so. One example is the old-fashioned hand-written note. Think about how much it can “wow” a customer to receive a thank you card for their purchase, or to get something that says “Thanks for buying me!” along with their purchase.

One company, for instance, that has cornered the market in this respect is Better World Books. When you order their books, you receive a lengthy email from your “book” thanking you for your purchase and describing the journey ahead. Instead of having a dry email from the company that tells you the expected arrival date of the book and the titles you’ve purchased, they created a first-hand account from your book to you. Brilliant.

These are the types of little business ideas that can make a big difference. And putting a smile on your customer’s face (or that of your employees) can really go a long way.

 

 

 

A New Angle on Social Media

Many people see social media as a way to reach out to clients or customers and as a necessity in the global market today. What they don’t always realize is that many of these social media channels can actually be a great resource and tool. Twitter, for instance, can actually be an invaluable tool for market research. This is a location where you can listen to your competition and to your customers without them realizing that you are doing so. You don’t have to send out surveys. You don’t have to worry about getting feedback or client response when you ask for it. Rather, if you follow the Twitter accounts of your competitors and your customers, you’ll see what they are thinking, reading, watching and doing.

Your market research is sitting there, just waiting for you to tap into it. Few business leaders and social media professional realize that this is an invaluable aspect of the social media revolution – and it’s one that can have a serious impact on a company that takes this approach seriously.

A Hands-On Approach to Your Business

If you’re a business leader, it’s important for you to have your finger on the pulse of all aspects of the company. This means, for instance, if your company uses social media to connect with clients or partners, the business leader should be savvy in this area. It’s never appropriate to just assume that you’ll be able to hire great people who know how to do the aspects of the business that you don’t know how to do.

Rather, it’s important to build those skills yourself so that you can oversee the work that others are doing. This doesn’t mean that you have to become an expert in absolutely every aspect of the business, but it does mean that you should have familiarity with all aspects.

On a similar note, everyone in the company should have some idea of what people are doing in other departments. Even if someone is on the technology end of the company, they should still understand how the social media outreach works. If someone is writing copy – they should still know about the technology being developed and the products being introduced. These are a few of the ways that employees can ensure that they are working together and understanding the larger picture that goes into creating a successful company.

Keep An Open Mind

Even if you are the boss and you expect others to listen to you – it’s important to be a listener too. What does this mean? It means that you recognize that you can always learn from other people and grow with their knowledge. Just because you’re in charge doesn’t mean that you’re always right. It also doesn’t mean that only your ideas will change the company.

There is a fine balance between leadership and humility. Of course you want to convey that you’re the boss. But you also want to recognize that other people’s opinions in the company have value. As Brian Chesky, the CEO of AirBNB has said to Healey Cypher of Oak Labs, “Everyone is superior to you in some way. There is always something that can be learned from each person you speak with. Humility is more than niceties; it’s a pathway to perpetually learning from any experience.”

Three Ways to be a Better Manager

We can always improve at our jobs and with our personalities. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t already doing a good job – it just means that there is room for improvement. Here are three ways that any executive can try to improve.

First, trying to stay positive can have major results. While there are always going to be road blocks and frustrations in the business, a positive outlook can make a huge difference. As Michael Dweck, the founder and CEO of Basic/Outfitters says, “Committing to your work with positive thoughts, your passion will shine through, ultimately leading to positive outcomes.”

It’s important to always think about how you are telling your story – and to realize that you are telling one. People love narratives and they want to follow along with a storyline. Your business is a story and the goals that you have are part of that story. Always keep this in mind when you pitch ideas, sell yourself and the company, try to motivate others, etc.

Think about what you are going to say “no” to as much as what you will say “yes” to.  Harvard Business School professor and best-selling business author David Maister says that careers are defined just as much by what you say “no” to as they are by what you say “yes” to.

A Great Public Speaking Tool

Many people are terrified of public speaking, and this is true even if they are executives who frequently give speeches. What most people do when they are nervous and want the task at hand to finish is that they speed up when they speak. They talk faster, hoping to be able to get off the stage more quickly and to accomplish their task.

But obviously they haven’t accomplished their task if no one can understand them, and if their words don’t have the intended impact.

One of the best ways to make an impact while speaking is with a dramatic pause. It feels counter-intuitive when you’re doing it and many people feel like they have to fill the void; but don’t fill that void. Pausing in the middle of a speech offers the listeners a chance to process what you’ve been saying. And it offers you, the speaker, a chance to pause, to gather your thoughts, and to take a deep breath.

This technique should be in any great speaker’s arsenal.

Incorporating Technology Knowledge

 

Many executives don’t want to be bothered by the technology aspects of their jobs and companies. They know they have an IT department and that their company’s chief information officer or chief technology officer will take care of these issues. But it’s often important for other executives to be part of this process. Here are a few ways to involve more executives within the company in the technology side.

  1. Spend time at a technology hub to meet companies, investors and others.
  2. Create a reverse mentoring program in the company where younger and more technologically skilled members of the team “mentor” less tech-savvy members.
  3. Go and actually see what your customers are doing with technology if you can. If you own a series of stores, shop in one of them and see how customers are looking at price comparisons with their phones, how they interact with technology and your products and such.