Getting Back to Basics – How to Build a High Performance Culture
After recently acquiring an import and distribution company, I have again been reminded of the incredible importance of implementing fundamental business practices and systems in order to gain traction, momentum, accountability, and a sense of unity and responsibility within the workplace that stands as a team builder. Conversely, I am reminded that whenever I have worked in an environment where these fundamentals are lacking, there tends to be a corresponding culture of under-performance that is created in the organization. The truth is that, if you want a high performance culture, you simply must institute some form of the fundamental management systems which I have listed and summarized below.
Amidst all of the overwhelming tasks that required my attention after purchasing the company, I immediately set about implementing three commonly known, but often poorly executed and neglected, business basics:
- Creating “smart numbers”, which are shared with the team and are indicators of our on-going performance
- Establishing ongoing, consistent, weekly communications (Both in Leadership and Sales)
- Conducting regular off-site meetings to establish company and individual yearly, quarterly, and monthly goals as well as setting up our strategy. This provides our on-going North Star focus while giving us clarity and purpose for our mission.
Our smart numbers report includes weekly sales, monthly and year-to-date profitability numbers, along with comparisons over last year’s numbers (where available). In addition, on-line and social media numbers are tracked, inventory numbers including top and slow sellers, new clients earned, and revenue per client are all highlighted and distributed to the team. The creation of the discipline and the process to get the numbers on a weekly basis has led to greater internal operational efficiencies.
Our leadership weekly communications begin with the identification of a “hot topic”, one immediate burning issue that needs to be discussed followed by the identification and discussion of any employee or customer issues. This is followed by two minute report outs by every participant in the meeting, where everyone gets an opportunity to understand what the rest of the team is working on. Finally we discuss the “hot topic” itself, get resolution, and close the meeting. The leadership meeting takes approximately 30 minutes and always proves to be helpful for the team.
Regular Off-Site Meetings
Our Sales meeting is simple, inspiring, and effective. It begins with the sales professionals on the call to discuss their “win of the week” along with the tactic used to achieve their sale. Next, they discuss their top 3 objectives for the week ahead. Finally, we allow for five minutes of “News” headlines to be shared. There is no “head of the meeting.” In fact, if someone cannot make it, the meeting goes on. We involve everyone and have a consistent agenda, start time, and end time. These meetings provide continuous communication, traction, and momentum that proves that we are all moving in the same direction.
I initiated our first off-site strategic planning session (now held each quarter) which included a review/development of the company’s values and mission statement, reviewing our SWAT analysis, and answering the “R” factor question of “What is the one thing that we need to make sure we do over the next year in order to say we had a great year”. We initiated a process of identifying our top five Company objectives for the year, quarter and month, a theme for the year, and we established our weekly communications agenda. The meetings are very action oriented and strategic, with only an identification–not yet a solution–to our issues. Because these meetings are highly energizing and focused, people walk away with not only a clear idea of what the company is going to be doing over the next quarter, but their role in how they are going to propel the company forward.
After our first quarter, there were multiple comments by the team that “this was the most productive quarter we ever had” and that people “couldn’t believe how much we accomplished this quarter.” And with this said, the second quarter is proving to be equally fruitful! Having habits such as transparency of numbers, openness of objectives, and on-going communications are disciplines that can be easily implemented and can quickly change any environment into an energy-infused, action-oriented culture. Individuals flourish in this kind of environment, where they know they are making real contributions on objectives that can positively change the trajectory of the business.
It is the leader’s job to set the trajectory for the company. It is up to you to create the disciplines in your organization that will empower your team and create the positive momentum required to win in today’s marketplace. It is never too late, or too soon, to get going!
Feel free to email me if you need a hand.