By understanding your customers, which comes in large part from asking important questions, you’ll quickly see what is truly valuable to your customers and where you fall short. More importantly, those same questions provide priceless information about opportunities your competition hasn’t yet recognized.
3. Re-evaluate your corporate culture. If your corporate culture doesn’t echo your dedication to serving your customers, develop a strategy to shift it. I love the poster with the caption “Sometimes the best solution to a morale problem is to fire all the unhappy people!”
Shifting the culture of your organization can be a momentous task. The most important step is to have a clearly defined understanding of what that culture is going to be. Evaluating your current teams’ willingness and ability to change would be impossible when business is humming and reducing headcount would create an unreasonable burden. But today, emptying a seat to make an adjustment to the team might be the best opportunity to positively affect a shift in your culture.
The courage to clear out those folks that don’t fit into the new plan delivers a reassuring message to the remaining team that they’re appreciated and truly valuable to the company.
4. Empowering employees builds trust. Now that you have built this great team, it’s time to show your trust by empowering them to deliver on the new initiatives. I believe we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. Let your team make mistakes. You’ve survived the past few years; you can certainly weather a few missteps now.
Your responsibility is to guide your employees away from catastrophic failure and allow the organization to become what you’ve envisioned. I’ll let you in on a little secret: the true culture of an organization only comes to light when the boss isn’t around. Stability is right around the corner. Not because we’re coming out of the recession, but because you’ve assembled a powerful team, provided them tools, and empowered them to succeed.
I frequently remind my staff that our success today is from preparation and hard work years ago; our responsibility today is to work hard so we continue to be successful for years to come, and the time to start paving the way for that success is now.
Zane the founder of Zane’s Cycles and the author of "Reinventing the Wheel: The Science of Creating Lifetime Customers," (BenBella Books, March 2011), in which he discusses the importance of culture, empowerment and customer engagement.