5 Lessons to Help Your Business #LiveLongAndProsper

leonard_nimoy_dies-400x200…boldly go where no one has gone before.

Leonard Nimoy passed away last week. He was known famously as Spock by many adoring Star Trek fans – me included. Yes, I profess to being a Trekkie. Spock was a Vulcan, and as such, espoused logic and wisdom.

He was non-emotional.  The anti-human (or so he liked to think).  Yet – Spock can teach us so much about being human.

Many of his now famous Star Trek lines hold a lot of logic and wisdom that can be applied to your business.  Logic and wisdom that can help your business boldly go where no one has gone before….

“Change is the essential process of all existence.”

To assume that things will always stay the same is illogical. Change comes whether you want it to or not and often unexpectedly. Organizational problems are linked together, and change in one area often impacts other areas.  The more you can prepare for and embrace change the faster you are likely to adapt.  Spock never stopped learning – and neither should you and your business.

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”

Ignoring the needs of the many – as in your people (your human capital) – is illogical.  Leaders who are most successful don’t make it about them – they make it about their people. Integrate each individual’s expertise and strengths and leverage differences to create a high performing organization.  When you consider the needs of the many, you are more likely to drive high productivity and increase success.

“Insufficient facts always invite danger.” 

Rushing to judgment is illogical.  To succeed – you must develop a clear strategy and execute a plan from start to finish. From setting direction and developing a course of action, to communicating, executing, and evaluating implemented solutions.  Know (and make sure your people know) and evaluate all the facts – your strategy and processes – before taking action.

“Infinite diversity in infinite combinations…”

To assume all people are the same is illogical.  Successful organizations embrace diversity. They embrace diversity of thought, diversity in backgrounds and experiences, and individual diversity. People feel valued and respected when they feel they can bring the full breadth of who they are to work. Valued employees have higher levels of engagement and productivity – contributing to increased innovation and growth.

“Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Believing any problem doesn’t possess a solution is illogical.  The first step in resolving any problem begins by acknowledging it exists. Most problems’ businesses face are challenging – but they’re solvable.  As a team – look at the possible causes.  Look at the possible solutions. And from a place of logic – eliminate the impossible – and acknowledge and act on the truths.

Spock once said that “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.”  By taking a Vulcan approach to tackling your business problems – you begin with the wisdom needed to help your business boldly go where no one has gone before.

Now…if you’ll excuse me, I have some Star Trek movies to watch.

About Scott Span, MSOD: is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions – an Organizational Improvement & Strategy firm.  He helps clients in achieving success through people, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable. Organizations where people enjoy working and customers enjoy doing business. 

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3 Reasons Why Businesses #Fail – See #TargetCanada

Target failIn case you didn’t hear – Target recently announced they’ll be ceasing operations in Canada.  What looked good on paper turned into a multi-year, multi-billion dollar loss.  This begs the question – why did Target Canada  #fail?

Look no further than the feedback from #TargetCanada employees (and customers).  Employees make or break the customer experience. Unhappy employees equals unhappy customers. Unhappy customers equal declining profits.

Back in May of 2014, when it was reported by Gawker that Target had lost nearly 1 billion dollars, they received a dispatch from a management-level employee sharing frustrations as to what may have contributed to the failure. It said, in part:

I am a Canadian and I was hired in early 2012 to take on a leadership role for Target Canada stores. From the beginning, a lot of emphasis, time and energy was put into in my training. The primary focus of which, was acclimating to the Target “culture” – I spent months training in the U.S. at stores, District and Regional offices. I can say that I agree with the previous poster on the “passive aggressive” nature of Target’s performance management. The overly sincere “we’re here to HELP you” approach was a constant drain on the senses, as it was akin to swimming with smiling sharks. The real problems, however, became much clearer after we started opening stores.

We’ve heard a lot about the Guest being unhappy with the Target Canada experience, but I can say with confidence that for MANY of us working there, the “Target experience” was not what we expected either. I can disseminate (from my perspective) why the company finds itself in the predicament it does today, and hopefully enlighten some readers on how ingrained and widespread the problems are.

International Assignees or IAs – these are key Team Members from the U.S. at various levels of leadership who came to Canada for a “limited timeline” under the guise of helping set up the stores and teams for success. Instead, we found that these folks were not guides or resources, as much as they were obstacles to progress. If it didn’t come from/work in the U.S. then it was not a discussion point. To come to a country as large, demographically and regionally different as Canada, and assume that the same “playbook” used in the U.S. would work in Canada was incredible. The inability of the “IAs” to think and work beyond this led to us attempting to Xerox the U.S. store culture (for Team Members and Guests) instead of develop one that is tailored to Canadian tastes and attitudes. As things began to go downhill, the IAs were extremely pointed, and openly opined that the Canadian Team Members worked “differently & less hard” and overall “took less accountability” than they were used to in the U.S. That was an exact quote that came from my boss (an IA himself). Many of these IAs were scheduled to return to the U.S. this year… And most have been asked to remain. So much for the claim that the Canadian Target business be “run and operated by Canadians…(read more)

Now I could go into details about the poor operational model of #TargetCanada… processes, strategy, customer service practices, culture – though I think this employee (who per further research I’ve found is not alone in his sentiments) states it best in explaining the failure:  “We’ve heard a lot about the Guest being unhappy with the Target Canada experience, but I can say with confidence that for MANY of us working there, the “Target experience” was not what we expected either.”

Target Canada failed at achieving success through people! If your employees, your human capital (which is by far any organizations’ biggest and most important asset particularly in an industry like retail), aren’t behind your mission, fully engaged, and delivering excellent customer service – how do you possibly expect to succeed?

Some things Target Canada failed to consider that may have led to employee and customer dissatisfaction:

When in Rome…

…do what the Romans do.  Or in this case, the Canadians. The employee who wrote Gawker said that the primary focus of the training was learning the “Target culture.”  And “If it didn’t come from/work in the U.S. then it was not a discussion point.”  Well, what about the Canadian culture? You know, the culture that Target should have taken the time and effort to understand and appreciate prior to just opening their doors in their country. You can’t walk into another culture and expect to do business the same way you do elsewhere.  You have to take the time to understand your customers, their needs, wants, and preferred means of doing business (both operationally and personally.) Give thought to the problem your business solves for them and then learn how to adapt your strategy and processes to the new culture where you’re doing business…oh and if you can’t, or it proves to be too costly, then don’t set yourself up for failure.

If it ain’t broke…

…don’t fix it.  Ok, maybe you should fix some things.  Like in the case of #TargetCanada the “…passive aggressive nature of Target’s performance management.” But when Target invaded Canada, they purchased over 100 stores from Zellers, in 2011.  Despite losing ground to Walmart Canada – Zellers didn’t technically go out of business until 2013.  There was a reason why they didn’t crumble to Walmart competition in the Canadian marketplace – something about the system still worked. Happy people. When entering new territory, especially if you’re replacing stores (and brands), you need to understand what worked and why, so you know what to consider replicating and what to consider replacing.

Business (NOT) as usual…

I know on many levels Canada feels like US North to some people – but it actually is in fact it’s own Country. They even have their own money. Some even speak another language.  In the words of a Target Canada employee: “To come to a country as large, demographically and regionally different as Canada, and assume that the same “playbook” used in the U.S. would work in Canada was incredible.”  Copying the same strategy to another demographic doesn’t always work. Processes are different (Target Canada faced inventory and pricing issues as a huger factor in their demise) and people are different. To succeed you need to study the region in which you’re considering doing business so you understand how – and why – they do business the way they do. You can’t just assume if it worked here it will work there.

Moral of the story: if you’re thinking of growing your business into a new territory – be sure you understand the culture, the needs and wants of your employees and customers, and implement processes to deliver on those – without going broke!  Achieving success through people is key to why businesses grow or fail.

About Scott Span, MSOD: is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions – an Organizational Improvement & Strategy firm.  He helps clients in achieving success through people by connecting and maximizing  people –> performance –> profit™, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable. Organizations where people enjoy working and customers enjoy doing business. 
 

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*All Rights Reserved. Reproduction, publication, and all other use of  any and all of this content is prohibited without authorized consent of Tolero Solutions and the author.


5 Ways to Keep Your Employees Happy in 2015

happypeopleData suggests that 70% of employees are disengaged. To put this in perspective – 70% is considered barely a passing grade by most educational institutions.

That’s an unacceptable statistic for long term growth and success.

Regardless of what type of business you are in – people (human capital) are your biggest asset – people operate your business, service your customers, and help drive innovation – allowing you to compete in a competitive marketplace.

If your people aren’t engaged then they likely aren’t achieving customer service excellence, increasing operational performance and efficiency, and driving innovation. That’s a harsh fact.

But all is not lost. Regardless of industry and size of your organization – engagement begins with behaviors. Here are 5 things you can do for  your biggest asset  – your people – to increase engagement and retention:

  1. Increase leadership honesty and transparency – Within reason, as a leader let employees know what you know and how you feel. Reduce ‘ivory tower’ syndrome.
  1. Recognize, recognize, recognize! – Say thank you. It may sound simple enough but it is often overlooked and taken for granted. Employee recognition is imperative to high retention. Not all employees prefer to be recognized for a job well done in the same ways. Pulse your workforce for their preferred means of recognition and then adapt and implement various strategies based on that feedback.
  1. Have realistic performance goals – Performance goals should be realistic and achievable, tied to specific roles and responsibilities and linked to strategic objectives. Adapt and update performance goals appropriately to account for environmental factors that may cause changes to your business, to roles and responsibilities, and to organizational structure and culture.
  1. Create a culture of trust - An organization with a culture of distrust is an organization destined to be doomed. Distrust occurs for many reasons, such as when employees lack trust in leadership, when communication is not transparent and frequent, when employees see others getting rewarded for who they know and not the work they do, and when employees are asked to contribute to unethical practices. To maintain high levels of employee engagement make sure your organization has a culture of trust, not distrust.
  1. Have merit based pay systems – I’m still surprised when I work with organizations that still pay based on title and tenure – and not performance. Pay should be based on performance. Non merit based pay is a sure fire way to decrease employee engagement and negatively impact retention. If employees see others getting rewarded simply for being there longer, when they have worked just as hard and gone above and beyond achieving their goals, they will most likely become frustrated and they may leave. Not good for engagement.

All of these are inexpensive ways to drive engagement within your organization. They show your people – your #1 asset – that you consider them more than just cogs and drones. It’s important to keep your employees happy. When you make an effort for your people – they’ll make an effort for your business.

About Author Scott Span, MSOD: is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions – an Organizational Improvement & Strategy firm.  He helps clients by connecting and maximizing  people –> performance –> profit™, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable. Organizations where people enjoy working and customers enjoy doing business. 
 

Email | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog | Facebook

________________________________________________________________________________

*All Rights Reserved. Reproduction, publication, and all other use of  any and all of this content is prohibited without authorized consent of Tolero Solutions and the author.