Small Steps / Large Gains

Many business executives have a core understanding of the cause and effect relationships that determine business value. However, the standard “score keeping” of financial reporting typically fail to itemize employee behaviors, and their social and emotional competencies, which impact their roles, responsibilities, thinking, decision making and customer-facing outcomes.

Businesses should also identify and measure the “softer skills” of workplace behaviors. They massively leverage desired improvements in financial performance.

The present value of a company is increased or diminished based upon the total effect of employee behaviors on the business. Optimizing financial value requires soft skills training to improve employee performance. But what are those different actions, and how does a company put them into play?

Business success requires awareness and the willingness to adapt, to change. Companies want to improve, but frequently that’s not budgeted. The daily challenges take priority. So change waits.

Companies want to be positive and action oriented, but research in psychology and neuroscience indicates that people often don’t change as they are not consciously aware of what needs to be changed. Awareness doesn’t need to be time-consuming or expensive, especially in smaller businesses. It is about constantly being curious. 

Periodically evaluate key customer-facing processes and practices. Management tends to focus on What, Where and Who, and that is appropriate. But, consider asking Why and How focusing on soft skills and customer-facing processes. Different answers will come to the fore, resulting in small refinements that can generate large performance gains. Don’t put off fundamental change … to a distant tomorrow. 

Creating business value is a journey of many small steps. Take the first step. We can help.

Facing New Challenges

Business owners fill many roles – as CEO or President – and as visionary, leader, and cheerleader. You make the big decisions, determine market strategies and tactical direction, the WHAT, WHO, HOW and WHERE of your business, and more.

As a business owner, you must do whatever it takes.

In most instances, you recognized a market need and worked day and night and most weekends … to launch your company and see growth in revenue and profitability. There were times of jubilation and moments when you questioned everything. Yet, you persevered and are enjoying more success. Challenges still exist and competition is a constant pressure, but now you are not alone. You have a team.

But you want more. Your original vision has grown as you have also grown as a business owner … with all the hats you still wear. Maybe business growth is flat of late. Maybe you see a new market opportunity. Or, maybe you need to transition the ownership of your business to a daughter or son, someone on the management team, or an outside entity. New challenges to face and overcome. You have big decisions to make.

As you assess your company’s financial and available expertise, and your bandwidth and that of your management team, there might be another maybe – you realize a need for outside experiences and expertise to  navigate the new challenges. So, how do you find the right expertise, the right set of experiences to provide the requisite guidance?

Ask your colleagues for referrals, and as you meet with candidates to discern their fit and competencies, be clear with them as to your present resources and challenges, and be absolutely clear on what you want to achieve. There are always details. Nail them down. Make the call. Trust your instincts and work to support their efforts on you behalf. Success will follow.


Below is a comment from an older edition of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, a comment from John Mulligan, CFO at Target Corporation.

“Too many people invited to too many meetings. Too many people have veto power over decisions that didn’t directly affect them. We were handcuffed by consensus. We needed to be faster – faster in how we work, how we make decisions and how we get things done. That means more instruction, less levels of approval, and yes, collaboration, but not everywhere and only where it is warranted.”

I bolded two key words. His comments reflect on the challenges Target has seen in recent years, and mirror workplace dysfunction seen in companies and corporations everywhere. As companies grow they add layers of management and many meetings to build consensus, collaboration, strategy, tactics and more.

Continue reading “Handcuffed”