Business and Operations
Stay ahead of Your Competitors
By Brad Wolff
7 Steps to stop falling behind your competition, and gain a competitive advantage
By Brad Wolff
Doesn’t it seem that business is more competitive than it used to be? ABC, a company that previously dominated their marketplace, suffered staggering losses in their previous fiscal year. It became blindingly apparent that what had worked in the past was no longer effective, and the company president had no idea how to fix things.
It was time to use proven techniques for achieving a competitive advantage.
ABC engaged a firm that identified the root causes of their problems. After two years, sales and profits dramatically increased. The results came from a seven-step process based on sound principles that put a focus on leveraging their internal talent. If you find your business falling behind, you can follow ABC, Inc.’s lead by putting these seven steps into practice.
1. Employee alignment
When assigning duties performed by employees that don’t fit their characteristics or core nature, they won’t perform well, like making people with poor detail orientation doing work that requires high detail. Training and development, management encouragement and other well-intended efforts will not fix these issues. As Peter Drucker said, “A manager’s task is to make the strengths of people effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.”
2. Create a culture of personal growth and development
Personal growth results in professional growth, creating a greater capacity to handle life challenges, accomplish long-term goals and work well with others. Personal growth and development includes an increased awareness of self and others, the ability to manage one’s ego, ability to manage emotions and development of innate talents to maximize productivity and effectiveness.
3. Align employees with your company’s mission and vision
Human beings have an innate need for meaning and purpose in what they do. This means that they need to care about how their efforts affect the world outside themselves. For example, take assembly line workers that produce incubators for premature babies. In one scenario the workers are only told to mechanically perform the prescribed duties. In the other scenario they are crystal clear about the importance the quality of their work has on the survival of infants. Which workers do you think are more motivated? Engagement and performance are directly affected by people’s connection to the outcomes of their work.
4. Align employees with your company’s culture and values
People need to feel that they fit in with their social groups. Employees who are out of sync with an organization’s culture and values will never contribute their best. Being aligned is the point, since diversity of thought and behavior allow a culture to adapt and thrive. It’s important for leaders to consider whether they should change their culture, like when it’s become toxic, or when there’s shrinking population of workers who fit the current culture. Without the ability to attract and retain needed talent, organizations will fail.
5. Align roles and to strategies and goals
In today’s environment, organizational goals and strategies must change to adapt. Frequently, roles and supporting job duties don’t adequately change to align with these shifts. Think of a company that changes its strategy to shift most customer communications from telephone to email, yet the employees’ duties and training continue to focus on telephone communications.
6. Assess Your weaknesses, starting from the top
It’s impossible to have a strength without its vulnerable side. We’ve been taught to hide or deny our weaknesses despite how obvious they are. Our ego’s impulse to protect our self-image is normal but counterproductive. When leaders openly and honestly acknowledging “challenge areas,” this sets the example for others.
7. Commit to work on your challenges
Studies on human potential and positive change demonstrate that self-awareness is the first step, but it’s not the last. Committing to take baby steps and doing them generates positive habits that create lasting positive change. Changes intended to meet the needs of your environment create a flexible, adaptive organization poised to thrive despite the torrent of unpredictable or unwanted change. Your willingness to acknowledge change that you don’t like, openly discuss it and consistently take the actions required to adapt will stregnthen you. At the end of the day, leaders are simply making choices that define the present and future of themselves and their organizations. There’s nothing magical about the most effective leaders. They’re just making more effective choices. These choices encompass how they decide to see the world, their openness to challenge their beliefs and their willingness to experiment with innovative ideas. Equally important choices include their willingness to objectively look at themselves and take actions to grow in areas. They choose to become a greater, more effective version of themselves. Leaders know that what they demonstrate (not what they say) is what has the greatest impact on the entire organization. / BJ
Brad Wolff specializes in workforce and personal optimization. He’s a speaker and author of, People Problems? How to Create People Solutions for a Competitive Advantage. As managing partner for Atlanta-based PeopleMax, Brad specializes in helping companies maximize the potential and results of their people to make more money with less stress. His passion is empowering people to create the business success they desire, in a deep and lasting way. For more information on Brad Wolff, please visit: www.PeopleMaximizers.com