General Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke to my 3 Vistage groups this week and the take-aways were fantastic. Well actually, it was a pre-recorded interview with Vistage CEO Sam Reese that we watched at home and discussed at the meetings. But still, the take-aways were excellent! >
What do you do when new competitors emerge? It used to be that the U.S. was the largest manufacturer in the world. It has been many years since Asian countries- first Japan then China became major competitors. Many US companies moved their manufacturing off shore to take advantage of cheaper labor. Then companies started to outsource customer service to other countries, then software development. Now with the changes to how we work since COVID, many companies have been working from home for over 17 months. Not just some of the work has been done away from the office, ALL of it was. Guess what? We have created new competition to the way we used to work and many of our team members have no intention of going back. How do we turn that to our advantage? >
Every Vistage group is having the same discussion: how/ who/ when to go back to the office? Those who never stopped going in – the essential in-person company leaders roll – their eyes. They have been masked up and in the office/field the whole time, but what about the rest of us???? >
When the pandemic began last year, and many parts of the economy hit a hard stop, I warned that how we treat our team members will long be remembered. They may not leave us in the moment, but the opportunity would come with the recovery. In case you hadn’t noticed, that moment has arrived.
Contacted on LinkedIn, or by recruiters they have never met, our best team members are being hunted and offered really sweet packages. And, when they get hired away because they can’t turn down a 20% increase in their pay (after all they have kids who will go to college if school finally goes back to in-person), you will have to pay their replacement more than your current 10 year employees with more experience. Argh!
What to do? First of all, say thank you. Seriously. Personally thank your team. Individually if possible but if you are communicating by video, look right into the camera and say thank you to your team for getting you through this crazy year. Acknowledge the parents (especially the Mom’s) who heroically kept our families and our companies going. Acknowledge the loss of family members and health that many suffered.
Double down on your great culture. Hopefully, all of the work you did in the last year to focus on your core strengths, to communicate well with your team whether in person or at the work place, to listen deeply to them and to customers, will make you an extremely desirable place to work. So, if a few team members are recruited away, you will be able to replace them with great talent.
Start recruiting now by creating or reinforcing a company presence on LinkedIn that shows who you are. Make sure your website is attractive to potential recruits. Remember, if they are now remote employees, they can work for some other company in another time zone. If you ever were in the driver’s seat on hiring, that has disappeared. If I haven’t scared you enough, read this article from Joe Galvin, Chief Research Officer at Vistage. And, if you company executive, and are not in Vistage, ask yourself, why not?
Given a choice, people do business with people and companies they like. If only Amazon has 2 day service, you might not win customers with a one week delivery schedule and no other compelling value. All things being equal, we tend to buy from people or brands we like or trust. >
KPI’s or KEY Performance Indicators are typically used around revenue, profit, and activities that lead to them. They may be used around sales activities that lead to closing a deal – like number of cold calls, number of appointments set, number of proposals initiated, etc.
How about using KPI’s to measure culture diversity? >
In 1989 Stephen Covey wrote The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It is still a source of wisdom to me and one of the few books I revisit to align to my true north. My 2 favorite habits are “Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.” and “Begin with the end in mind”. They both play a part in today’s discussion. >
How often does someone try to delegate up to you? Hey boss, how do I get on the shared drive? Hey boss, what should I say to this difficult customer? Hey boss, should we get a different supplier? >
Is it easy for you to receive feedback? For most of my life, you could give me positive feedback all day long. I would tend to dismiss it, but I’d be emotionally happy. If i received negative feedback, my stomach clenched as my jaw froze into a slight tight smile, which may have looked like terror. >