3 Sure Fire Ways to Prepare Your Business For the Long Haul
Amidst the demands required to run a business, remain profitable and meet both long and short-term goals, the key to business success hinges on leaders staying focused on the end game. With disruption at every turn, that is no easy task. Thus, as Active International celebrates its 30th year in business, we have collected some of the most important lessons we’ve learned that have helped ensure our longevity and success along the way.
1. Find and Cultivate your “A” Team
Commonly people say their people are the most important asset, and it’s true. A successful company is built by successful people. It is imperative that companies invest time in collecting and cultivating their team. Zappos, an online shoe and clothing company, has made a name for itself when it comes to taking the time and care necessary to craft an “A” team.
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Determined to find employees whose values align with their own, Zappos created a list of ten core values. Then they tailored their existing job descriptions, hiring process, professional training and work environment to underscore these values for their employees, visitors, customers and partners. Zappos is so committed to finding employees who fit their culture that they make an offer to every employee at the end of the first week of their training – they will pay any employee for their time, plus a $2,000 bonus, to quit on the spot. It’s a simple way to weed out the newcomers who are only there for a paycheck and don’t truly want to work for them.
Zappos has not only invested to ensure they have their “A” team, they are also willing to invest to ensure they protect the team culture they have created. And it’s paid off – the company has ranked on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies To Work For list for six years in a row, which speaks to its unique and effective approach to its employees.
2. Be Nimble and Willing to Change Strategy
As the marketplace evolves, successful companies not only pay attention to shifts and emerging challenges, but they also anticipate how these developments will impact their clients and partners. They actively listen to the market and their clients needs, and then they leverage that insight to modify existing products or services or develop new ones. A company that understands and prioritizes client feedback and external market changes is far more likely to deliver solutions that drive revenue growth and ensure they remain relevant in the future.
McDonalds’ recent announcement that former chief brand officer Steve Easterbrook will be replacing Don Thompson as CEO is a prime example of a company making big changes to stay relevant in a changing market. Due to economic challenges, evolving consumer tastes, rising competitors like Chipotle and menu glitches, the fast food giant’s sales at U.S. locations open at least 13 months declined 2.1 percent last year, the biggest drop for the company in over ten years.
A company that understands and prioritizes client feedback and external market changes is far more likely to deliver solutions that drive revenue growth and ensure they remain relevant in the future.
Joining the company in 1990 as an electrical engineer, Thompson rose through the company’s operations side and was named Chief Operating Officer in 2010 before being promoted to CEO. During his tenure as CEO, however, sales slumped. But the slow-down wasn’t due to poor operational efficiency.
McDonalds’ recent business challenge has been around market perception of fast food. Recognizing this, the board made the decision to shift gears and appointed Easterbrook, who joined the company in 1993. His mandate will be to change the company’s image and bring the brand and product more in line with today’s market expectations. While it remains to be seen whether a new CEO will turn the company’s fate around, it’s clear that McDonald’s is aggressively restructuring to better resonate with consumers.
And that is a move that pays off more often than not for companies willing to be nimble.
3. Reframe how Success is Measured
It is important for a company to maintain a clear perspective on business goals in order to thrive in the long run. While performance can be measured in many ways, desired results aren’t always guaranteed.
At Active, we’ve overcome this issue by encouraging our employees to do everything within their power to understand management’s expectations by clearly articulating corporate objectives and strategies. Of equal value, however, is in understanding what lessons can be taken away from the occasional misstep. It is during these moments that we’ve had some of our most valuable insights about motivating staff. When managers focus their feedback on “lessons learned” rather than “failures made,” they motivate employees to push themselves and the company to new heights.
Business leaders must constantly balance the pressure to manage both short- and long-term goals. They must also focus on keeping their employees engaged and providing a workplace environment from which staff can derive personal and professional satisfaction. By keeping these lessons in mind and taking responsibility for the creation and development of a corporate culture that focuses on its people first, leaders are much more likely to achieve long-term growth and success.
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