By: Don Yäger
We all know it and have heard it before, “you can’t get where you want to go by standing still”. Early, and I mean REALLY early, in my career, I learned a lot in my Industrial Electricity trade school. One item is that there are irrefutable truths related to electricity and, if you do not pay attention to these truths, there are extreme consequences. I learned this often until I developed a healthy respect and consistently deployed common safety practices. I learned how important “ground” was – the standard by which you knew if a circuit was 120V or 450V – a common ground (or earth) that is the point of reference from which voltages are measured, a common return path for current. It is consistent – always there, always the same.
Unfortunately, in our vastly competitive landscape, customers, markets, industries, and yes, even our standards of excellence, are constantly changing. Part of the reason why “data is king” is that it provides ongoing insights related to trends, helping us to make decisions and choose paths. This helps us continue to add value to our customers, whether internal or external. The bar is always being raised and this has a cascading effect on our teams, especially our front-line customer-facing professionals who have to keep up.
Generally, I can say that most of my peers and colleagues do not like standing still – not in their personal life, and certainly not in their professional life. If I am standing still, I am behind – never satisfied with the status quo and always trying to achieve more. So how do you stay ahead, whether it is ahead of your customers or competition?
- Have a vision, make sure it is shared and internalized – Revisit your Mission Statement – is it relevant? How are you communicating FIVE TIMES and FIVE WAYS (5×5 – From Karin Hurt’s and David Dye’s Winning Well)? More importantly do you get feedback from everyone on what the mission and vision mean to them? Is it in alignment? Will their work, as they interpret it, get you to your vision?
- Accept feedback, without defensiveness or excuses – What are the mechanisms by which you gather information and feedback from your employees, customers, or clients? Do you take it all in unfiltered or do you find yourself almost mentally defending the reason, or making excuses? This is your garden of growth and insights, as I used to hear Scott Cook (Founder of Intuit) consistently say, “…customers don’t care what you know, until they know that you care…” And they know you care by the action and attention you pay to their feedback.
- The path to results, innovation, and prosperity is through your employees – Treat your employees with the type of service you want them to provide your customers and you will never have to worry about customers or future business. Inc.com published an article on 10 Things Customers Want – take a look, but think about this list in the framework of your Employees – how are you doing in providing this experience for your employees?
I imagine everyone could come up with a list a lot longer than this – I am a believer in the “Rule of Three” (see Brian Clarks’ Blog). To me, I start here: Where am I going (Mission/Vision), how do I know I am on track or need to change (Feedback), and what is the gas in the engine to get you there quickly (Employees)? Self-awareness and self-reflection are humbling, but they’re also great things to get you to success. Where are you at? Are you standing firmly on the ground, or is the ground shifting under your feet? Don’t stand still.