Why are so many consultants enamored of reports? Don’t let them fool you: it’s because they’re easy. Don’t think so? Ask a teacher what kind of work her students prefer: do they like to read and discuss pieces and do creative assignments or do they like to do worksheets? The intuitive answer is the creative projects, but most students prefer filling out boring worksheets because it is easier. It requires much less effort, concentration, and interaction. It doesn’t require that you be engaged. And the report is the consultant’s version of a worksheet. Some set themselves to autopilot and churn out reports that mean very little for the success of your business. You deserve more than a cookie-cutter, worksheet, busy-work approach.
Business isn’t run quite the same way as relationships; it would be interesting, though, if we had to create a value proposition in order to ask someone for a date. We would have to provide a concise summary of why that person would possibly want to go out with us, why we are the best choice, and what we can offer that other people cannot. We might throw in some numbers on the percentage of fun we anticipate or probability of a second date. On second thought, maybe running a business is a lot like a relationship.
In our last post, we talked about some common obstacles businesses face when communicating the value to clients. They all boil down to being confident in what you have to offer as much as your ability to convey that, with equal confidence, to clients and customers. Today, we’ll talk about how to overcome some of these stumbling blocks.
It has been said that Apple’s real value proposition is not in the actual products or technology they produce, but in their ability to blend that technology seamlessly into everyday life. The true value is not actually in the product or service; it’s in Apple’s uncanny ability to convince people that they cannot do without it, that there is value in having an Apple product that goes beyond the actual device or gadget.
How much do you weigh? How old are you? How are your finances? Three questions which can lead to major faux pas in most conversations. Most of us would never dream of asking these of people we have just met – and most of us won’t even discuss it with our closest friends! Money is closely associated with status, power, success, expertise, and knowledge. We attribute great power to numbers, but at the same time, go to extreme lengths to avoid discussing them. This is fine at a casual dinner party, but in business, failure to discuss, understand and act on the numbers can lead to disaster.
A favorite question I often ask business owners or senior managers after discussing their company’s priority business goals is “if I asked your first line supervisors or employees what the most important objectives here are, what would they tell me?” Typically, after a little silence, the more honest ones answer “I don’t know.” The point of course is twofold:
1. Has management taken the time to define progress in terms of very specific metrics?
2. Has ownership of those objectives been passed to the people who produce the company’s products or services?
One of the most critical aspects of leadership is conducting effective performance reviews. Performance is the key component of an effective organization. Performance can mean meeting profit expectations, introducing effective marketing strategies, and hiring and mentoring high quality personnel. However, it is clear that without the latter, exemplary staff, the former components cannot be realized. Furthermore, the management of effective human resources is dependent on clear, consistent and effective performance reviews.
The focus of the assessment should be based purely on performance objectives.
When a company hires me as a consultant, I ask to see their performance review plan. If there is no plan in place, then this is where my work with the organization begins. A performance review plan must be tied to performance objectives. In other words, if there are no clear performance objectives, then there is nothing to which to tie your employee performance review. The employee, in dialogue with the manager, should direct their activities to these predetermined and mutually agreed upon set of objectives. You cannot evaluate employee performance without a clear link to the objectives of the organization.
Performance objectives evolve from the initial job description. For example, an account manager or a sales manager may have similar generic objectives including familiarity with client needs, communication with the client, delivery of services/products and customer satisfaction.