During my more than two decades as a pioneering consultant in the field of customer experience and customer experience management, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know many great people. One of them is Chris Daffy.
Chris is a customer service and customer experience management consultant from the United Kingdom (http://www.chrisdaffy.com/index.php) who has helped scores of small to large organizations around the world develop and implement best practices in the field. Current and past clients include the Dorchester Hotel, Unilever, Pizza Express, Manchester Airport and DHL.
Besides being a world-renown consultant, Daffy is also a leading speaker, workshop facilitator and author on customer service and customer experience management.
I’ve known Chris for more than 15 years. We’ve worked together doing workshops, speaking engagements and just sharing perspectives on customer experience and service.
I have nothing but the greatest respect for Chris and workshops that we’ve done together actually broke attendance records at some conferences. Our network and compatibility in thinking about value creation has led to a very deep respect for each other but most importantly I count Chris as one of my dearest friends.
Chris is one of the greatest collectors of data and information and integrating that knowledge into action. He possesses a great sense of humor and a very straightforward, loyal and supportive character.
Given our mutual passion for customer experience management, we have decided to periodically exchange our blogs and share them with our readers. We hope the blog exchange augments our content and expands your thinking about customer service and customer experience management.
In this first blog exchange, Chris shares his thoughts on the role of business leaders and the challenges they face in balancing working ON their companies not just IN them.
Working ON the Business
By Chris Daffy
The job of a business leader is not easy. One of the many challenges that has to be faced is the delicate balance that needs to be created between making sure things are as the leader believes they need to be and giving people the freedom to use their talents to do what they think is right. This is especially so when the business is one the leader created and built themselves. In such businesses, during the early days the leader is the business and must therefore work IN it to ensure its survival and success.
However, if the business grows, and good people are recruited to undertake the various roles, there may come a time when the leader needs to take a step back from working IN the business and start working ON it. And that can be hard to do – for some it’s extremely hard.
We had a discussion about this at a recent meeting I had with a few business leaders, some of whom had built their own businesses. It was obviously a challenge for some of them. So I thought it might be helpful if I wrote down a few ideas for things that might help them sharpen their focus ON their businesses.
And then I thought it could be of interest to other business leaders; so here it is. This list is of topics or issues, a question format, that, if focused on, should help keep a leader’s attention ON the business. I’ve grouped them in what I think are logical categories. These are the key ones that come to my mind. But I’m sure there are more that will vary from business to business.
* Have we established a core purpose (why we exist) for the business? Is it noble and/or worthy of peoples efforts? Does everyone know what it is?
* Do we have a future-focused, worthwhile business goal (a Beckoning Beacon or Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? Does it challenge and excite everyone enough that they wish to play their part in helping achieve it?
* Have we created a strategy that we believe will enable us to achieve the business goal? Is it clearly communicated to everyone so they know their part in making it a success?
* Is everyone aligned behind the core purpose and the business goal? If not, what are we doing about those people that are not aligned?
* Does the organization have all it needs to succeed, grow and achieve the business goal? Are there any areas that are holding us back? If so, what are we doing to rectify this?
* Are we making the best use of the available relevant tools, techniques, technology, etc.? Do we know what the best ones are? If we are not using them, how can we make them available?
* Am I keeping myself up to date with the best thinking and techniques? What am I doing do keep myself ‘sharp’ and aware of what’s new? Am I doing this in a way that sets the right example of personal development to everyone else?
* Do I know what customers think about our organization, products and/or services? What feedback channels do we have to keep my finger on the pulse of customer perceptions, needs and future plans? Do we need more?
* Am I aware of what our competitors are up to? What feedback channels do we have to keep my finger on the pulse of competitor activity? Do we need more?
* Am I aware of what’s happening generally in all our key markets? Am I close enough to them to know what’s coming and ensure the business is ready for it?
* Do I know our people and their hopes, fears, talents, strengths, weaknesses, ambitions, etc.? Am I allocating enough of my time to really knowing all my people on a one to one basis?
* Do we have values and behaviors that are known and practiced by everyone; especially me? Have I taken the time to create, record and broadcast a set of values and behaviors that everyone agrees with and is happy to practice? What am I doing about any people that appear uncomfortable with this?
* How is the general morale of the workforce? What means do I have to know how they are feeling? Am I tapped in to the employee grapevine?
* Do we have the right people in the right roles? Am I confident that we have the best available people in all the key roles? If not, what am I doing about this?
* Does everyone have what they need to perform at their best? Have I ensured that each person has the tools, training and resources they need to excel? Have I actually asked them?
* Do we give our people the room to grow and the opportunity to use their strengths and talents to the full? Do I know what are the strengths and talents of all our people? Am I providing the opportunities they need to fully utilize them?
* Do people feel motivated, inspired and fairly rewarded? Am I doing my job of keeping everyone loving their job and wanting to stay with us and help us succeed and grow?
As I said above, there are sure to be other subjects that are more relevant to different organizations. But whatever they are, the point is that it’s easy for a business leader to spend (and perhaps enjoy) so much time working IN the business that they neglect the vital role of working ON the business. I, therefore, hope these ideas will help any leaders who find themselves too much in that IN situation to find ways to get more on to the ON situation.