In 1998, the world was very different - dial-up modems still screeched through phone lines, France were poised to win the World Cup and NASA found water on the moon.
A less obvious change is in the attitudes to mental skills training. Now everyone from professional athletes to sales divisions knows the benefits of the right mental approach on performance. The core principles have remained the same, but as new people enter employment, organisations still need help in developing worthwhile skills.
New businesses in particular need to adopt best practice methods when it comes to upskilling their people.
The age of informed customers
The pressure on business owners is, in part, because the buying journey has been disrupted by the internet. Whether your customer wants a toaster or a global mainframe, there’s a wealth of online information including reviews, prices, jargon busters, typical costs and expected life spans. Each customer is an expert, in their own way, is more informed and has much more of an idea of exactly what they want. This in turn puts them further ahead in the buying process. With a period of ‘discovery’ or lead-in time, customers expect fast turnarounds and will walk away when they don’t achieve quick progress. While this sounds like a lot of pressure on sales people and business owners, well-informed consumers can actually be a positive for companies.
Focusing on the modern pressure of delivering to informed, decisive and demanding customers means that the core of businesses and their objectives need to be in place. These are the ‘foundational basics’ and one way to immunise businesses from the pressure of the modern environment is to double-down on getting the foundations right – allowing you to build a robust and successful working environment on top of them.
Making sure the foundational basics are in place could include things like:
- Ensuring the purposes of the business are clear and simple to all employees.
Does everyone understand what the business is trying to achieve – and furthermore, do they agree with it and support it?
- Giving employees the right skills, knowledge and resources to execute the company strategy.
Are your sales staff experts in what your products can offer customers?
Do support staff have the right skills to offer excellent service and make customers feel valued?
Are computer systems integrated and aligned to prevent delays and mistakes that cause complaints?
- Having a communication and management performance review process.
Feedback is essential and information flow about performance, including meetings, success insight and tracking progress can make a huge difference to a connected, high-performing environment.
- Identifying the risks and threats to the business.
Whether it’s internal pressure, competitor action or even problems caused by extreme weather understand the importance of making contingency plans to allow the business to successfully function.
- Taking care of the human element.
Keep staff motivated and find out what makes them feel valued and therefore engaged and hardworking.
In some cases, new businesses have an advantage over larger, established companies in this regard, as there’s the opportunity to ‘bake-in’ these foundational basics before the company grows and problems arise. There are a number of key questions to answer that will allow these basics to become part of the fabric of the business, including identifying exactly what product or service is being sold, why it’s valuable and modelling who you will be selling it to. Getting these answers will allow you to connect the two together, which should show you exactly what you need to do to get the product or service to market.
Not all pressure is bad pressure.
As much as we hear about the modern business environment, and the world in general, being more pressurised than ever before and the unhelpful impact this has, if you look at pressure as a potential catalyst for growth, it can make things a lot more manageable.
Getting the foundational basics of the business right, making sure they’re understood by everyone and so central to the company that they become second nature, allows staff to identify where the real pressure is coming from and devote their time and effort to meeting demands and responding to changing business needs.
The job of business owners and senior managers is to make sure the balance is right – that staff have enough stimuli to feel motivated to put effort in every day, but not so much that they’re unable to gain a sense of achievement and suffer from being overwhelmed.
Customer Centric Solutions (CCS) have been in the people business for over 20 years – round about the time we still had dial-up! Developing leaders, helping teams on the ground to understand their individual and group responsibilities is something we’re passionate about. Our flagship programme, Team Excellence is aimed at optimising the effectiveness of teams working at any level within the organisation. After all, these days pressure seems to find us all, no matter what kind of work we do.
This article was adapted from one published by Performance Gazing Systems Ltd. CCS has been the South African partner to Gazing since 2006.