The dawning of a new reality.
There is an increasing awakening among business owners - big, small and micro - that the consequences of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the end of the capital expenditure mining boom and the debt dilemmas of Europe have included unintended, undocumented and non defined changes in business cultures, philosophies, policies and practices.
Customer service standards, relationships and instances of referrals have all been adversely affected.
The needs of in company signage, corporate literature and public utterances about commitments to and the pre eminence of customer service, quality, value, change and innovation remain. They stand Stark naked and contradict the daily experiences and perceptions of team members, clients, customers, associates and suppliers.
The ideals persist in the minds of some, but their attainment and maintenance are impeded, filtered and blocked by a seemingly omnipotent preoccupation with cost cutting, retrenchments and operational containment. Ideals are often compromised by marketplace realities. Words are debased by actions.
Confusion abounds. Contradictions militate against well intended endeavour.
At the same time staff members are encouraged to extend themselves, to reach out to clients and customers to provide service excellence, to ensure accuracy, quality and value. Statements - if not pleas - are made for them to reduce costs, eliminate waste, rationalise inventories and to implement cost - free efficiencies.
Not surprisingly, in many instances morale is down, tensions are up, performance levels are inconsistent and tolerance levels are wafer thin. In short: the rubber band has been stretched to near breaking point.
BODY LANGUAGE SPEAKS VOLUMES
Most conspicuous in many businesses through Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Europe and North America at present is the overt body language of service providers and professionals.
Arguably, the gestures are unrehearsed and unintended, but they do speak volumes to the clients and customers.
The rolling of eyes, the shrugging of shoulders and the figurative dropping of shoulders should perhaps be confined to the underperforming Australian Cricket Test teams. Sadly, the attitudes are toxic and infectious.
Coaches of all codes of high performance sports and business people implore their people to look and to act like professionals.
Verbal slips are like dropped catches, they lose matches. Sales and relationships are literally walking out the door.
MAKE A STATEMENT
There is need for business leaders to assemble their team members to make a statement, to recommit to the corporate vision and ideals, to redefine the goals, the service values and, above all, the beliefs which have, do and that will continue to drive the company, its people and network.
The benefits will flow. Rekindling a sense of pride, positive self image and aspiration will be promptly rewarded.
Reason, not rationalism, should be the fundamental driving force.
Understanding, support, compassion and passion will and does engender cohesion, interpretation and confidence.
Declarations by business leaders and owners about tolerance of prudent risk taking, single shot failures and suboptimal performance will promote a sense of adventure, desire and proactive behaviour. Being in control is often founded on the reassurance of support from higher ranks.
DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT
One business truism is worth repeating:
“Nothing meaningful or better will
happen unless and until you
do something different”.
“Holding the line” will, at best, maintain the status quo. It is an attractive and appropriate proposition for very few entities, business owners, nations and individuals.
“Holding out” is perhaps worse, because one is then dependent on external factors, forces or entities to initiate a change for the better.
“Holding on” begs the question... for how long? It also implies you have encountered the ubiquitous “cliff” and are dangling precariously.
Now is the time to “let go”, not to hold on. The later implies and typically results in consolidation, contraction and solace.
To regroup and to seek regrowth necessitates an unshackling of mindsets, paradigms and the micromanaging of processes.
In many instances spreadsheets should be set aside and emphases on cost savings need to be reprioritised. All people need to figuratively and literally stand up, stretch out and walk about.
Talk, engagement and interactions generate refocus. They stimulate enthusiasm, facilitate recognition and differentiate one from the predictable, inertia, the mundane and lethargic norm.
Tangible and intangible rewards await those who commit to uncompromised customer service excellence, quality, value and consistency.
Investments in time, money, people and resources will doubtless be required. It will involve outlays before benefits, an orientation to outcomes rather than to processes, and most particularly, a bias to longer - term strategies, in preference to shorter - term tactics. Step up now:
Step 1: Regroup
Step 2: Refocus
Step 3: Regrow
Enjoy and profit from the journey.