When you look at the structure of a typical business (oxymoron) – as all businesses are inherently unique – we often see an owner’s office or executive suite and the balance of the company organized into functional areas, such as operations, marketing, sales, human resources and accounting. Some companies have fewer departments and others have more. Further, there is usually a hierarchical structure that can be one layer or many depending upon the size and complexity of the business.
Ideally, each department and every employee therein has a mix of capabilities, functions and a set of defined responsibilities. As employees communicate (engagement) internally and externally with their customers, and as their responsibilities are accomplished (performance) the company’s mission is being accomplished and the customer is served (ideally, they are thrilled). Products and services are delivered to multiple customers, value is transferred and a payment is exchanged – a classic debit and credit transaction. The companies that engage and perform to or above market benchmarks – that do “it” better – grow and prosper, while their competitors struggle and may eventually fail.
Practically, the level of individual, departmental and total company performance varies significantly (gap). A failure to fully understand customer needs can result in a misalignment of value being transferred, providing an opportunity for competitors to gain traction. Gaps in desired engagement and performance – individual and company – can diminish the value transferred to those customers, also providing a competitor an opportunity to secure the business.
Incredibly few businesses consistently perform at high levels of performance; misalignment and gaps abound in every business and with their customers. If then, so what? Broadly speaking, the customer’s needs and expectations are not being met due to some combination of weak strategic or tactical plans, or managers or other employees are underperforming. Resolving strategic and tactical weaknesses AND elevating engagement and performance are critical to business success, which is always a long-term and dynamic undertaking. The “hard stuff” of business is important, but so is the “soft stuff” of business, the behavioral elements.
The good news is that small improvements in one area of the company begin to cascade throughout the organization. Step-by-step, the total performance profile of each employee, each department and the entire company is improved. Customers are happier, maybe even thrilled – which is a critical benchmark.
What’s keeping you from taking that first step?