Posts tagged with ‘global and social change’

05 oct

OperationsRx: Are You on a Winner? Realizing Value in Teamwork and Day-to-Day Operations

MichelleKerriganGandhi once said you can measure the civilization of a people by how they treat their animals. Translated into corporate terms: you can measure the success of leaders by how they value teamwork in day-to-day operations.

Not long ago, a law firm partner who specializes in joint ventures and venture capital transactions asked me what I look for in operational success. It was an operational due diligence exercise to help investors determine “are you on a winner?”

I gave her a list of questions to consider when assessing quality, whether you’re an investor or a CEO wondering about your own operation. Here are 4 to get you started:

1. The management: are they leaders?
2. The team: are they organized and primed to execute?
3. What happens when people ask questions?
4. Is there an overall sense of unity and positive energy?

Most investors might just focus on the first question. Totally understandable. But, if you’re investing in a company with a growing or changing operation, you may want to take a closer look at the day-to-day. That’s where the magic happens. Where the vision you’re investing in comes to life, in the form of people, process, and teamwork.

It’s where ideas are given arms and legs so they can move forward. The value in any company depends on it, and so does the value of leadership. Answers to the bottom 3 questions will tell you a lot about the #1.

Whenever I’ve been given a new operation, I closely observe the day-to-day and sit side-by-side to interview members of the team. I find out what they do and how they do it, and am very curious about the why and when as well. I especially look for a sense of unity—if each person understands the importance of their role in achieving goals, and how they affect the people around them.

The team: are they organized and primed to execute?

Means: are there workflows, processes, schedules, and deadlines with assigned tasks and responsibilities? Are there to-do lists and scheduled meetings for follow up and review? Does the team have what it takes to do their job well?

To succeed, you need structure, focus and accountability to get things done. Most people yawn over these details, but without them, even the best strategies are just air. Think of any team sport without rules, goals, timing, talent and training. Total confusion and chaos on the field. Cause for concern for investors.

What happens when people ask questions?

I ask a lot of questions. You have to. You need to know if priorities and goals are communicated clearly and often, especially when they change (which happens a lot during growth and transition). You need the team to feel comfortable asking questions too. What you don’t need is frustration caused by fear and confusion—-it wastes time and money: yours.

Is there an overall sense of unity and positive energy?

This is crucial. I cannot emphasize it enough. Even if the operation is disorganized, it can be fixed. Some disagreement is expected-—it can even make a product or service better. But if there’s no sense of willingness—to cooperate, to collaborate, to win as a team—then run, don’t walk, to the next investment. Constant conflict is a deal breaker.

Value is realized in the day-to-day. Look closely, and it will inform you about quality leadership and teamwork, and warn you about hidden costs of conflict, confusion and control.

It is the revenue line—where money is made and lost—-and that’s the bottom line of business.

Copyright 2010 Michelle Kerrigan

For over 25 years, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping organizations and individuals improve performance and productivity in the day-to-day workplace. A trusted expert who uniquely combines extensive leadership and operations experience with powerful coaching and organizing techniques, Michelle helps clients develop skills and confidence critical to the bottom line. More at www.MichelleKerriganInc.com.

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Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on October 5th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , ,

14 jun

Marketing from the Inside Out to Win Buy-in and Succeed at Change

MichelleKerriganI read a line recently, “Everything is marketing.” How true. We all have the potential to influence people every day. If you don’t believe that, you probably don’t buy products, share opinions with friends, or have a Facebook page.

I’ve worked with marketing companies my entire career—two powerhouses, one startup—and have executed some amazing campaigns for some amazing clients. A great deal of time and money goes into building a brand, gaining attention, and telling a story to consumers. But what goes on inside the brand? And is anyone supporting it?

Here’s the bottom line: a company’s success is largely based on what its employees do (or don’t do), just as much as what their customers do (or don’t do). So where’s the marketing to employees? How are they being influenced? Today’s tactic of “you’re lucky to have a job” is wearing pretty thin. Coercion is not the answer to winning in the marketplace; maybe marketing from the inside out is.

One of the many things I was asked to change when I led operations at the startup was Customer Support. I had heard a lot of complaints about their lack of knowledge regarding product, policy and membership, their inability to get issues resolved, and their habit of giving away credits (a.k.a. revenue) to soothe angry customers. So, I was very apprehensive accepting this new challenge.

The team was based in California (our headquarters were in New York) so they were far from the everyday action—a difficult situation in any large operation, impossible in a startup where change is an everyday event. It seemed like everyone in New York had something to say about this group, but very few people actually interacted with them. Why??

Here was a team of support agents who were fun, flexible, positive, social thru and thru, and passionate about our product and all kinds of media (music, movies, TV, web). In short, they were our target audience. And, one more thing—the perfect change agents.

Customer Service is Marketing and is Change. It’s where the rubber meets the road, the best advantage point of influence. Yet, it is often overlooked and underutilized. Many companies find the word ‘service’ boring. So it is not surprising how little support customer support gets—another change that has to happen if businesses want to succeed. They don’t see that customer service is change management at its finest, that the same elements needed for employee buy-in and great service—communication, participation, education, support, commitment—-are the same elements needed for customer buy-in and great sales.

Just think of all the companies you love and hate, and why, and I’ll bet your customer service experience played an enormous role in making up your mind, or changing it. Correct?

So, I knew I needed to begin a dialogue between Customer Support and Marketing, Customer Support and Product Development, Customer Support and Merchandising….you get the idea. Whether you’re influencing employees or customers, the dialogue has to be continuous, connected and contagious to work. Marketing from the inside out is effecting change through exchange. The success you have with your internal audience will help you win your external one. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Our VP of Marketing and his team got Customer Support involved in everything we were doing, and a great exchange of ideas and enthusiasm happened across all levels. We discussed customer wants and needs, new feature buzz, targeted campaigns, and product development. We shipped our latest store merchandise out to California so they could see and feel what we were selling, and flew our product manager out to train agents for a new launch. The agents tested new products and shared invaluable feedback from our customers’ point of view which helped us tailor our offerings the right way. Everyone was focused, collaborating, and on the same page: exactly where you want your customer to be.

Marketing rewrote our entire knowledge base, and we began a new story, from the inside out.

It is the job of today’s business leaders to market from the inside out, to take every opportunity to influence employees because, after all, they’re customers too. Begin the dialogue, open doors, get people involved. Share marketing ideas, do internal market research, get product feedback. Create a culture that is customer responsive by being employee responsive.

Be the brand you want everyone to identify with. Your best campaign could be sitting right in front of you.

Marketing has been defined as: “the whole company, taken from the customer’s point of view.”

How do your employees see their company?

Copyright 2010 Michelle Kerrigan

For over 25 years, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping organizations and individuals improve performance and productivity in the day-to-day workplace. A trusted expert who uniquely combines extensive leadership and operations experience with powerful coaching and organizing techniques, Michelle helps clients develop skills and confidence critical to the bottom line. More at www.MichelleKerriganInc.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on June 14th, 2010 in Career, Global/Social Change | No comments Read related posts in , , ,