Looking ahead to 2016 – the year to break some habits? It’s sinning time!
Every year we all approach the idea of New Year resolutions with a mix of enthusiasm, cynicism, opposition, or apathy. We all know that many personal goals don’t make it past the first weekend (stop smoking, cut back on the extra glass of wine, go to the gym 3 times a week), and others have staying power but after 5 or 6 months we have stopped thinking about them.
Business ambitions for the New Year can also suffer the same fate, possibly because they were unrealistic, you met resistance along the way, or unexpected hurdles stopped you in your well intentioned tracks. Perhaps we have tried these resolutions before, and not wanting to give up, we keep on trying hoping (unrealistically) that this time circumstances will be somehow different. And you end up frustrated that it’s “more of the same”, like last year.
Maybe 2016 should be the year to sin, actually we mean SIN;
- Stop doing what is not working for you
- Improve in selective areas where this can improve performance
- Create Newness, in product, processes, or operations innovation to differentiate yourself
Some case studies that spotlight what can be done to break “staying with old habits”:
# Stop the underperformance
A client who had a problem with a senior manager who was underperforming. This person had been employed for over 12 years, was well liked, but not performing at the level required for that role. There needed to be a change, and for more than a year the deliberations around making an effective decision continued. Eventually the person was terminated, under very reasonable terms. Within a day, the atmosphere in the department improved, within a few months the company’s fortunes improved rapidly as this was a key operations job and, looking back, the Owners wondered why they had enabled this to go on for so long.
# Improve to outperform
Staff at this client were becoming demotivated by the apparent lack of clarity around their goals and how these were linked to performance reviews and compensation. It all seemed arbitrary, or last minute depending on company annual results. We analysed the current process, and with senior management developed a methodology that linked individual objectives to company goals, that also were aligned with job descriptions. With this mid-sized client ($25 m annually) we also then reviewed the performance management practices, which were inconsistent, and created a template and process for regular reviews. Finally we linked compensation and a new bonus scheme with job levels and responsibilities, and individual achievement. The results started to show in the following 6 months, and this company grew to $50 m in 3 years.
# Create Newness, or seek out ways to innovate
Another B to C client was in a service industry, and the challenge was topline growth. For over 2 years sales were steady, but not increasing. The market itself was static, customer needs were being satisfied, but there was no obvious upside for the business. We encouraged the client to take a fresh, higher level view of their market; whether there were emerging trends in adjacent markets, as well as in other countries. We explored potential synergies or opportunities for horizontal diversification, as well as geographical expansion. After a thorough strategic review, we recommend launching the existing services into an adjacent market that had greater potential for long term growth and for the client that barriers to entry were low. The business grew by over 50% in the next 24 months.
In wishing everyone a successful 2016, we would like to suggest that it is time to SIN. Stop doing what is not working; identify one key area to Improve; and Innovate to make a difference to your customers.