Strategy and Growing Your Business

When I see a company year-after-year forecast sizable increases in revenues and profits and regularly miss the forecast I am reminded of Albert Einstein’s admonition about insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

To achieve growth, you need to think differently about your business and do it on a continual basis.

For the past few Mondays I have written about strategic thinking because it is a skill that is required to be an effective executive. And through my experience coaching executives and leaders, I know it is a skill that can be acquired. But like any skill, it needs practice and reinforcement.

By the way, don’t confuse strategic thinking with strategic planning. You may plan once a year, but strategic thinking needs to be happening regularly throughout the year.

Can your strategic thinking be sharpened? How about the strategic thinking skills of your executives? Do you have a regular process to identify strategic insights?

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

Learning to Think Strategically

Newly-promoted executives face a number of significant challenges as they adapt to an executive role. One of the most significant is the ability to think strategically.

In my 30 years of working with executives, it is rare that a new executive has that skill. Even among executives with years of experience relatively few are good at thinking strategically because they have built their careers on being good at operations.

Of course, operational excellence is extremely important, but so is keeping an eye on the external environment and that is a key role for any executive.

My point: Relatively few executives are skilled in thinking strategically.

The ability to think strategically is important for the entire management team, not just the top leader. You need all executives to develop strategic insights from their various perspectives and disciplines as input to business strategy.

Are you providing your executive team with development programs aimed at honing strategic thinking skills?

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

Pay Attention to Key Management Processes

Innovation and continuous improvement keep operating processes efficient and effective, but too often management processes get neglected and they can cause significant problems during growth. What are management processes? Here are examples:

  • Ongoing strategic thinking and business insights
  • Strategic planning and periodic updates
  • Operating plans and budgeting
  • Goal-setting and accountability management
  • Performance reviews
  • Succession planning
  • Recruitment and selection
  • Training and development
  • Review of rewards competitiveness

These don’t have to be sophisticated and best-practice based, but they do need to be sufficiently effective to help drive the business forward.

What you don’t want is for these to be forgotten or to be administrative exercises. Each one has a purpose. Make sure each process is “owned” by a person who will sharpen the focus on key outcomes and oversee improvements.

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

Special Report: Retain Your Key People

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that employees are voluntarily quitting their jobs at the highest rate since the internet boom in 2001, and most of them are getting bigger paychecks – roughly 30% increases according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. The trend is across all industries and is due to the strong economy and very low unemployment.

Nearly all of my clients have reported losses of good people, mostly to competitor companies and for significantly higher pay, and many clients have been struggling to find good, reliable people to hire for some time now.

Here’s what you should be doing now:

1. Focus on Your Best People.

You cannot effectively address this concern by looking at your entire workforce. Instead, create a list of the 10-15% of employees who are high performers and/or the ones you cannot afford to lose because of their expertise and the critical nature of their jobs to your operations and your customers.

Go through the list person-by-person and determine the following:

  • Are they being paid what they are worth?
  • Are they being managed by an effective manager who is good at engaging and communicating with his/her people? Does the manager know of any frustrations or problems the employee is experiencing?
  • Are they challenged, stimulated, and feeling accomplishment?
  • Have they been told recently how much they are valued?
  • Is there a development plan in place specifically for each person to provide more opportunities to get involved in the business? For ideas, look at the article I co-wrote for Forbes: http://bit.ly/2KWb4P5

Make changes to fix any of the problems identified. If you need to make exceptions to pay policies or other practices, do it. These are your best/most valuable people. Losing any one of them will cost you 1.5-2 times their annual pay in lost productivity, position vacancy, costs to cover their absence, replacement and training costs associated with a new hire, etc.

These changes need to be proactive. Waiting until someone receives an offer from another company, then making a counter offer seldom works to retain the person, and even if you do manage to keep them, it causes ongoing resentment.

If you are concerned about losing the best of the best, then you might want to take even stronger measures, such as a long-term retention incentive. It accrues value for key people and if they leave the company, they’ll also forfeit the accrued value.

2. Strengthen Your Company’s Capability to Attract, Select, and Retain Good People

The ability to retain high performers is the result of doing many things well – not just one thing – and it begins with recruiting and selecting the right people in the first place. Of course, this is very challenging in a business environment like today’s, and that’s why it’s so important to do it well.

  • Create A Compelling Value Proposition. Answer this question: Why would a really good performer want to come to work at your company? (The answer is more than pay and benefits.)
  • Develop Specific Profiles. Ideally, you have very clear profiles of the kinds of people who fit your culture and who will perform well. These are not canned profiles from personality questionnaires, but rather the result of thinking-through the skills, perspectives, learning style and attitudes you want.
  • Strengthen Your Recruiting and Selection Process: You’ll also have an ongoing recruiting process – not just when there are openings, but all the time and with people who are already screened and qualified, ready for an offer. This needs to be treated as the important process it is, and continually improved.  Both quality AND speed are imperative in filling positions.

You can make a positive difference in retaining your most valued people, but like any other key challenge, it needs serious attention.

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.

My website is www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

When a Key Manager Isn’t Cutting It

Having the right strategy and structure is good, but you need to make sure that you have the right key players in every important management position. Is each one capable of helping to take your operation to the next level? Do they understand and are they fully committed to the strategy? Do they ‘pack the gear’ (skills, perspective, and attitude) necessary to be highly effective? – the skills, perspective, and attitudes.

If a manager is doing okay, but not excelling, what are you going to do about it? Live with it? Make work-arounds to accommodate them? Are you hesitant to make a move because an individual has been with the company for a long time and were effective in the past?

Whatever the situation, if he or she is not the right person for the position today, you must make a change. That does not necessarily mean he/she has to leave the company, but it does mean you have to face-up to the problem.

I have seen leaders live with mediocre talent that holds the entire company or division back. And I can tell you that in every case where action is taken to get the right talent in the position, everything seems to improve – the operations, the atmosphere, the energy, and the attitudes of high performers who all wonder why it took so long.

Don’t misunderstand me – this should not be a capricious or mean action. It needs to be handled with respect for the person and finding a solution that works for both the company and the person.

Chances are the person in question knows that he/she is not performing up to expectations and is not very happy with the situation and secretly wants a change. In many cases, a better position can be found where he/she will add good value. In other cases, they can be helped to find a much more appropriate and satisfying position in another company.

If you want to talk through a specific case, give me a call.

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

Dramatically Improve Your Leadership Effectiveness — Part Two

I’ve been asked what key changes executives need to make in order to have a quantum leap in their effectiveness. What’s interesting about the question is that the answer has little to do with most of the things executives work on to be more effective – tactical things like better managing time, improving specific leadership skills, adopting a new leadership style, etc. All those are good and important, but the really powerful changes have to do with two fundamental and strategic mindset changes.

Last week I covered the first one: Letting go of things that are not important to your current position. Here’s the second fundamental mindset change:

Fundamental Change #2: Change your dominant thought pattern. How you frame your everyday mindset will determine your behaviors and actions. For example, being a pessimist produces vastly different priorities, actions, and results than begin an optimist. Thinking in terms of cutting costs produces vastly different results than thinking in terms of profitable growth. You choose your mental frame and that influences your actions, your employees’ actions, and business results.

Here’s the key: As a rule, you need to be thinking big

It’s very important that you change your self-talk. You have to be optimistic, growth-oriented, focused much less on problems and far more on opportunities. Opportunities to grow the business, opportunities to delight customers, opportunities to get your employees and the organization excited and energized. Yes, problem-solving is important, but it is tactical and best left to your competent operations people – it is not the best way to spend YOUR time. You need to be operating at the level of a leader. Be optimistic, growth-oriented, and positive; focus on where you want to take your company and the strategy to make it happen; in short, lead your organization.

In summary, there are two fundamental changes you need to make in yourself to dramatically improve your leadership: First, let go of the things that are not your job. Second, change your self-talk to be positive and growth-oriented. If you do those, you will be a leader in behavior and action, not just in your title., and you will position yourself and your business for profitable growth.

What will you do, specifically, to make these changes?

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob.legge@leggecompany.com

 

 

Essential Steps for a High Return on People

Most organizations devote a lot more time and money on weak performers than they do on top performers. They think that by investing in the lowest performing people, they will improve overall company performance.

You wouldn’t do that with a portfolio of products or stocks, so why do it with your organization?

To improve your return on people, do the following:

1. Identify your best performers and make sure that they get the support and opportunities they crave. Help them contribute in even better ways that affect greater and more extensive parts of the business.

2. Identify those people with the potential to be excellent performers and provide them with the coaching, mentoring and focused development that will enable them to develop and become superb.

3. Stop investing so much time and money in weak performers. Instead, give them very clear performance expectations and deadlines. If they need specific training to be competent, give it to them, but measure whether the training actually resulted in better performance.

Also, if a manager is one of the weak performers, look to see if his/her direct reports have had any development opportunities – chances are they haven’t. Stop letting the weak manager hold people back.

Put your investment where you will get the highest return — in the best and those with the potential to be successful. Have clear performance expectations for everyone and the right processes to address poor performers when needed.

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob.legge (at) leggecompany.com