- Capturing Value, Not Just Forecasts
- Convert an annual pilgrimage into an opportunity
- Retaining Pivotal Talent During the Recovery
- It could be “Katie Bar the Door” as the economy continues to expand
- The G20, Google and Organization Culture
- The benefits of knowing and improving organization culture.
- Teams at the Top
- How to Achieve Executive Team Alignment
Human Capital Metrics - Creating Insights to Excel in the New Economy
Sponsored by The Human Resources Leadership Forum of Western, PA
October 20, 2009
Capturing Value, Not Just Forecasts
The annual budgeting cycle is underway for many B2B companies. The process usually includes a pilgrimage to customers and/or channel partners to gather their best-guess estimates of business for the coming year. Why not take this as an opportunity to do more than just ask customers to gaze into their crystal ball? After a tough business year, it is a great time to reaffirm why customers should stick with you through thick and thin.
Customer retention is not determined by their satisfaction with your products and services. Satisfied customers walk all the time. Studies from across a number of industries have shown that perceived value is the best leading indicator of whether a customer stays put. Customers re-buy when they buy your value proposition – when they perceive that your product/service is worth it.
So don’t just send Sales on the road to gather volume forecasts. Put together small teams and train them to confirm the perceived value of your product and service and to look for opportunities to increase value. Involve functions that may not normally visit customers - executives to talk to customer executives, cost accountants to analyze value-in-use, engineers to identify process and product improvements, supply chain folks to look at delivery and inventory, etc. Don’t just ask “What can we do for you?” or “Are you satisfied?”. Test all of the touch points with your customer and all the links of your product/service with their process.
Value only makes sense in comparison to other alternatives so take the time to ask about competitors. Following the same process with ex- or potential customers can also provide valuable value insights.
Sure, gather forecasts while your there. Also look for value improvement opportunities that could drive more business or business at a higher price. Then you can ask “What would the forecast be if we could do X for you?” What you learn about perceived value can also be used to prioritize and fund improvement initiatives for the coming year that will further lock in customers.
There is nothing like a Business Plan with some great up-side potential.
Retaining Pivotal Talent during the Recovery
“In the midst of the worst recession in a generation or more, with 13 million people unemployed, there are approximately 3 million jobs that employers are actively recruiting for but so far have been unable to fill.” Business Week, April 30, 2009
While this is a sorry statement on the terrible mismatch of the skills of the US workforce and the needs of employers, it should also raise a red flag for companies that are struggling to retain critical talent. Add to this two other facts and it is clear that talent retention and development had better be on your radar screen
It’s obvious that the war for talent continues more than 10 years after McKinsey coined the term. There may be more layoffs to come but here are some suggestions if you want to be a winner in the coming talent battles.
- Resources continue to be tight so it’s important to make sure that you are getting the biggest bang for your limited talent buck. Three areas typically exhibit strong cost-benefit: development focused on the future for high potential employees at all levels in the organization, on-boarding for key new hires and for leaders promoted from within, and focused technical training to keep High Pro’s up to date.
- Address the “stayers” that survived the layoffs but are now disengaged. You should be monitoring employee engagement (versus satisfaction) to know how much of an issue this is in your organization and with whom. Re-engagement is a leadership task centered on communications and work. Do people know and have confidence in the strategy that will get your company through the recovery? Do they know what part they can play in achieving the strategy? Are their objectives clearly linked to important business outcomes? If you can’t answer these questions, you are going into battle with no weapons.
- Develop a clear picture of the overall capability of your organization. Do you have the right mix of talent that will enable change? Do you have the leadership that is capable of re-engaging employees? Do you still have command-and-control leaders in pivotal roles that subvert initiative, innovation, flexibility and speed?
Don’t wait, start building your talent arsenal now!
The G20, Google and Organization Culture
The G20 came to Pittsburgh and the excitement was palpable. I had the great experience of attending a Pre-G20 event hosted by the Pittsburgh Technology Council and featuring Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Google. The event was held at Heinz Field, the home of the world champion Pittsburgh Steelers. The audience was glamorous, it was a beautiful sunny morning, the world media were everywhere extolling the city’s re-emergence, and Greenpeace climbers were hanging from the West End Bridge. I’m a Pittsburgh bigot so this provided much fodder for my Steel City chauvinism.
The best part of the morning was hearing from the leader of an innovative, disruptive, and fast growing company. Mr. Schmidt is an extremely well spoken but self-effacing CEO. He clearly is not a flash-in-the-pan, me-me-me leader but an obvious product of (or creator of?) and cheerleader for the Google Culture. He also loves Pittsburgh so what’s not to like?
I could comment on much of what he had to say but his thoughts on organization culture stuck with me the most.
Mr. Schmidt commented that the culture at Google today is just like when it started. He called it a “mess by design” and a “disruptive force” that “adapts well to scale”. It’s built for and by people “who don’t like to be told what to do” but want to “pursue what they care about”. He commented that it is important in this economy and with the best workers to “get beyond command and control”. He emphasized that every company has a culture whether you know it or not. His point was simple – you need to know the culture that will make a difference for your business and work hard on it.
Check out the podcast of Pre-G20 Forum with Google and the Pittsburgh Technology Council
If you’d like more information on measuring and improving your company culture, please contact Michael Couch & Associates Inc.
Teams at the Top: How to Achieve Executive Team Alignment
By Roz Turner, founder of Roz Turner & Associates
If you are a member of a “team at the top” of your organization, then you are charged with setting the strategies that put your company on course for its success. Nothing is worse than when a decision-making team gets bogged down and finds that it has difficulty moving forward. A “team at the top” sets the pace and direction for others to follow. It can send a bad message to the rest of the organization when the Executive Leadership team gets mired in ineffective operating behaviors that slow down the action.
Executive Team Alignment can help leaders to quickly face critical challenges, rapidly make tough decisions and sustain ownership of the decisions made. Sounds good, doesn’t it? If you’ve been on a team that often gets “stuck”, you may be thinking, “how can I sign up for that?”
What Executive Alignment Is and Isn’t
Alignment is not a type of agreement, “buy-in” or a willingness to “go along with” something, but rather, a commitment to work in new ways. To achieve authentic alignment, most executive teams need to fundamentally change how they interact and behave. Alignment is an ongoing process not a one time event. It’s a way of working together that demands that each member of the team be willing to communicate openly and honestly and not hold back. Being “aligned” with a team occurs when our participation in the overall success of the organization is greater than our need to “be right” about a decision.
What Works to Create an Aligned Team
- Being willing to engage in straight communication about the tough issues and having no “sacred cows” or things that are deemed “undiscussable”
- Communicating often and intentionally as a team. This means having regularly scheduled meetings that you can count on.
- Knowing your own and each team member’s strengths and limitations and being willing and able to coach one another
- Constantly improving your leadership capacity – by getting feedback from the people who report to you and from others on the team
- Learning how to work together to turn a “breakdown” into a “breakthrough” without getting stuck in blame or hidden agendas.
- Embracing a set of “best practice” leadership team operating behaviors. Identifying the team behaviors that are important to your leadership team and modeling them for the rest of the organization.
Pay now or pay later
Given today’s current economic climate and the challenging business environment, now’s the time for better executive team alignment. It takes a high degree of intention, commitment and time to create an aligned executive team. Executive leaders can “pay now” by taking the time and making the commitment to work together to increase their effectiveness as a team, or they will “pay later” when they have business challenges and their team is not up to the task.
Click here to read the full article on Executive Team Alignment