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custserv-300x226.jpgHave you ever seen a company that provides consistent, exceptional service for its customers that has unhappy employees? I never have! From my view, it is not possible for longer than a short-term time frame.

On the other hand, if you empower and engage your employees, you’ll find that customer service follows. It is no accident that the Ritz Carlton provides exceptional service. They know it starts with their employees. If you have a problem at the Ritz, whoever is helping you (from a baggage handler to a maid) will make sure you walk away satisfied – without asking for approval.

The problem is that it isn’t easy to create this culture. Empowering and engaging employees means that you must let them try new ideas and fail. You must support them giving away more money than is necessary while they learn the ropes. You must be willing to live with – and support – the choices your employees make.

The key to empowering and engaging employees begins with leadership. I’ve yet to work with a client that had empowered and engaged employees with a weak leader on top. Yet I’ve seen the least likely suspects turn into empowered and engaged employees with an exceptional leader on top!

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Do You Have Engaged Employees?

Develop a Talent Edge

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpgQuality must be an assumption. The problem with assumptions such as service and quality is that people lose focus because there is little conversation about the topics when “all is well”. People are typically not rewarded for things that don’t happen. For example, if there is a crisis, people are rewarded for resolving the crisis and working long hours to work through the situation; however, if they avoid the crisis altogether, it might go unnoticed. Worse, they might get push back on working on the topic at all because it hasn’t proven to be an issue! As leaders, we must appreciate what is NOT happening.

It is not magic or luck. In working with clients of many industries and sizes, it is apparent that “working smart” is what avoids crises. And, most of these crises are well worth avoiding! I was just talking with one of my clients about this topic. They have done an impressive job and are in great shape from many perspectives – well ahead of their competition actually – however, they will not thrive if they continue to be plagued by quality issues. We must build quality, service, safety and these types of fundamentals into the culture as critical norms!

One tip to implement this week:

The first step in noticing what hasn’t occurred is to take a step back and observe. What is going on around you? Do you know why people are doing what they are doing? If not, ASK. You might find out it is to avoid a major pitfall. Showing interest is one way to ensure it becomes an assumption. Another idea is to make sure you are capturing the “right” metrics – which numbers are important to your business and results? Watch these trends carefully. You’ll be reminded of the importance even if the trend is continually “good”. Go talk with the team making that happen!

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

Fotolia_20764188_XS-300x225.jpgProject results drive business performance! In my experience in working with countless companies ranging from small to multi-billion dollar ones, I’ve yet to run across one that wasn’t dependent on project results to meet critical company objectives. Actually, quite the opposite is typically the case – too many projects with too few resources are vital to performance. Thus, those executives who find ways to ensure project success will outpace the competition.

For example, one of my significant manufacturing aerospace clients is experiencing delivery challenges. Thus, there are several projects which are geared towards improving the order fulfilment processes to improve delivery performance. If they do not deliver results, customers will leave. What could be more important than that?

The bottom line is that project failure is not an option! Yet 0% of my clients have enough resources, and they are especially short on the right resources with the right skills to deliver these projects. Given this state of affairs, it is important to understand the top project pitfalls – and, of course, how to avoid them.

A few of the most common pitfalls include the following:

  1. Too many projects: If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. I’ve yet to go into a client that didn’t have more priorities than they could meet successfully in the timeframes desired. Thus, something is bound to fall through the cracks.
  1. Too few resources: Often times, there are just too few resources to manage projects while keeping the rest of the day-to-day priorities moving. Since the recession, companies don’t over-hire; thus, staffing projects can be a quandary.
  1. Lack of skills: Even if they happen to have enough resources or can pull resources into key projects, it is rare that the people on the project team have the appropriate skills to ensure the timely delivery of results. People are moving jobs, retiring, getting promoted, etc. Typically I find that high-skilled resources jump on the chance to be involved in a high-impact project; however, there are never enough to go around.
  1. Lack of a plan: Because executives are focused on immediate results, they tend to “jump right in” and being without a plan to back it up. If there is no plan, how do you know if you are off track?
  1. Lack of focus: Is there a clear critical path? Is everyone on the same page as to the priority? If each project team member focuses on what he/she thinks is important and isn’t aligned with the team, there will be a lack of focus. This is not uncommon!

Given these pitfalls, a few strategies to ensure success include the following:

  1. Prioritize goals: If there are too many projects, it probably means you have too many goals. Go back to your strategy and objectives. What is most important in order to achieve your objectives? Pick only 3 goals. Then, determine which projects tie to those goals. Limit the number of projects.
  1. Reallocate resources: The great news is that if you start with too many projects, you’ll likely have resources available once you slash the number of projects to the essential few. Reallocate those resources. If you still have too few resources, look for ways to automate daily tasks so that you can reallocate additional resources to projects.
  1. Develop & outsource skills: Project management skills are not developed as an aside. Make sure to provide training and education to bring the skills up in your organization. It is likely you’ll still need additional skills. Bring them in! Projects are short-term needs. Find resources with the specialized skill required and bring them in as a temp, contractor or consultant. Supplement as needed.
  1. Make your first priority to plan: Resist the temptation to start doing. Take a step back and build a plan with your project team. If you receive push back from executives, explain the critical importance of flawless execution. A plan doesn’t have to take months to put together. Bring your team together, dedicate a day and do not the leave the room without a plan.
  1. Build a critical path: The best way to know where to focus is to clearly identify the critical path. Which tasks are dependent on other tasks? Which tasks are on the path which will impact project timing? Focus attention on just those tasks. Remind task owners on the critical path. Remove roadblocks.

In today’s new normal business environment, project results are of paramount importance as growth and profitability is cornerstone to success. Identifying and removing project pitfalls is a top priority, and you’ll elevate your business performance.

Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

Project Failure: How to Avoid Top Causes

Are Check Points Required to Deliver Project Results?

CRM-300x200.jpgKeeping with the customer theme, I thought a brief discussion on CRM would be in order. In the last 5 years, I’ve seen the importance of CRM double, at a minimum. The critical importance of customer service has emerged, and so having tools to aid with this process has become trendy – and helps to grow the business.

To determine what you need in a CRM system, start with your customers. What is important to your customers? Determine the top 3 ways you’d like to leverage a CRM system to help you develop relationships with your customers. I often refer to these as critical success factors – what will “make a difference” to your customer and your business?

Once you know your top 3 critical success factors, dig into the specific functionality that supports these areas. For example, if managing your pipeline is important, you should look for software that has robust capabilities on tracking prospects, stages of the business, probabilities of success, etc. On the other hand, if you want to remember to call your key customer or prospect every month to offer value, advanced pipeline management capabilities can be a deterrent. You just want software with call management features and reminders. CRM software is becoming more robust, and it is often embedded with upgraded ERP systems. A bit of searching will yield the perfect CRM to support your particular customer requirements.

Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

Watching Metrics Trends

The Value of CRM

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpgI was in DC this week for a conference. My theme last week was on continuous learning, and I put that into practice this week. Walked away with several ideas. It just so happens to be “cherry season” in DC. This is what got me thinking about time because the cherry trees are beautiful but only in blossom and last for 10-14 days. How ridiculous is that? Talk about a condensed tour season for cherry blossoms! Perhaps that’s why all the hotels were booked….

Thus, cherry trees made me think about the impact of time in our work life as well. If there is one common theme I hear from executives, it is that TIME matters – there isn’t enough time in the day; customers are demanding quick deliveries; month-end close must be rapid for quick decision-making, etc. I guarantee if you take too long to make decisions, you will miss opportunities. When you are 80% ready, GO! Sure, sometimes you’ll be wrong but you’ll gain many more successes that would be missed opportunities than you’ll experience in failures.

One tip to implement this week:

The nice thing about time is that it is not a resource; it is a priority. We cannot increase or decrease the number of hours in a day; however, we choose where we spend our time – a priority. Thus, one easy tip that might be hard to implement is to stop whining about the lack of time!  Instead, think about where you are spending your time. Even track what you are doing for a day – hour by hour.

Did you waste much more than you thought? Reallocate your time to what will drive results – your A tasks. Ignore your C’s – you might never get to them; however, wouldn’t it be better to miss a C than an A because you started with what was easy vs. what should be your priority? Also, consider this: Find a non-essential activity you can cut 15 minutes from on a daily basis. It will be pretty easy if you create that hour-by-hour log. If you do that for a year, you’ll have found 91 hours!

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

Fotolia_66185694_XS-300x239.jpgEven the founder of lean principles, Toyota, can falter on quality; thus, anyone can lose their edge – yet it is cornerstone to business success. People and companies have more choices than ever before. If you wish to remain in the race, quality must be more than an assumption; it must become a strategic focus.

1. View quality from your customer’s perspective – What matters is what your customer expects when agreeing to purchase the product or service. Be vigilant in understanding your customers’ expectations.  Remember to value what they would be willing to pay for.

2. Over delivery of quality is a problem – Sounds strange but there’s no doubt that over delivering on quality can be a significant problem. Consider the cost that goes into over delivering – eventually your price will have to account for the over delivery of quality in order to make a profit.

3. Don’t inspect; instead, build quality into the process – Although inspection will avoid customer issues, it will result in significant cost. It isn’t the best plan as inspectors are needed and issues are found after-the-fact!  Why not reverse this losing proposition and build quality into the process upfront?

4. Track key metrics – What is measured becomes the priority. Is parts per million meaningful? How about customer feedback? Start small and begin tracking what is important.

5. Quality is increasing in importance to today’s marketplace – Since cash remains king even in the recovery, people and businesses are more particular about how they spend their money and have increased expectations. Quality must be consistently high to just “be in the game” – high quality is no longer a differentiator; it is a requirement.

Continue reading on how to strengthen your Eagle Eye:

Quality Tips for Manufacturers

Stand Out From the Crowd and Delight Your Customers!

customerisking-300x245.jpgAs I thought about an appropriate topic, I was reminded of the importance of starting with your customer. No matter what your company objectives, you must understand your customer.

There are several areas to consider; however, starting with these can never steer you wrong: 1) Determine what is important. 2) Prioritize. 3) Translate to a sales forecast.

First and foremost, determine what is important to your customer. Do not fall into the trap of thinking about which features, benefits, services, etc. you think are important to your customer. Instead, find out. Ask your customer questions. Find out what he would be willing to pay for. Certainly, if he is willing to pay additional for quick delivery (as an example), it means that fast turnaround is valued. Dig further. Many customers will think everything is important; however, can they leverage the advantage(s) if you provide it to them? Find out more about their capabilities. Are they willing to invest resources? Tailor your products and services to what will provide the largest perceived value to your core customers.

Next, prioritize. You are likely to find out that your key customers have multiple requirements for success. Which are most important? Which are within your capabilities? Which align with your strategy? Do you have resources in place and trained that can help you with the requirements? A simple ABC method can work wonders. Don’t think about how easy it will be for you to achieve the requests. It doesn’t matter if your customer doesn’t truly appreciate them. C’s are a great example of this type of wasted effort. Instead, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Pick a select few priorities. Too many is a recipe for disaster. My most successful clients have no more than 3 key “A” priorities/areas of focus at once.

Third, translate what you know into a sales forecast. SIOP processes (sales, inventory, and operations planning) can yield substantial results for you – and your customer. It starts with your key customers’ sales forecasts. How frequently will your customers order? What is the likely order size? What is the volume and/or dollar value you think will occur? How does that compare with last year? Last quarter? Does it make sense? Can you collaborate so that you place your customers’ orders for them in a way that achieves a win-win? For example, several of my clients have planned what to send to their key customers with programs called VMI, collaborative ordering, replenishment, etc. The results can be substantial – better service, quicker deliveries, lower inventory levels, better efficiencies, etc. What could be better than having the information to develop your key customers’ forecasts for them?

One of the tenets of lean is to start with the customer. The same holds true for SIOP. Undoubtedly, starting with your customer in mind will get you off to a “great” start. Best case, you can deliver significant benefits for your customer at improved margins for your company. Worse case, you’ll be starting in a better position with an understanding of what your customer wants. Asking is painless. Pick up the phone. Visit your customer. Ask and listen. A few simple techniques and your business will be better prepared to delight your customer and deliver bottom line business results.

Continue reading on how to be the Strongest Link in your organization:

Start with Your Customer

The $1 Million Dollar Planner

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpgI’ve been thinking about the value of continuous learning. I am in the fortunate position of learning something new with each client and from each Board meeting (with my APICS and ProVisors groups). Last week, I met with a prospective client and saw interesting machines and manufacturing processes. I have skills that will help them succeed yet I am able to learn while I go. I also typically learn something new every day from different colleagues I meet along the way – new ideas, interesting facts, etc. This week, I am going to spend a portion of my week in a conference focused on best practices in consulting. If you are not learning, you are falling behind!

One tip to implement this week:

The nice thing about this week’s topic is that it is easy to find ways to learn. Ask your manager about why they’ve chosen a certain process or project. Read trade magazines and discuss them with colleagues. Attend an APICS meeting to learn about best practices. For example, my APICS chapter has an upcoming executive panel and networking symposium on innovation. Please join us if you are in the Southern CA area. Attend a conference about your ERP software, your industry or the economy. Guaranteed, the people I know who are the best learners tend to lead the pack!

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”


Supply Chain Trends

Posted by lisaanderson Apr 13, 2015

Keeping up on the latest supply chain trends can be invaluable for your career and your company success. I’ve never believed in “jumping on the latest bandwagon”, just to be in the cool crowd and to have the opportunity to work with the trendy topics. However, being aware of the latest trends can be invaluable in refining your strategy and developing the optimal plans to achieve your goals.

Since laws change frequently that affect supply chain, if you are not up to speed, you can follow undesirable paths. Since supply chain disruptions seem to occur more frequently than we’d like, we must keep up on the latest issues – and potential ones to boot. For example, the L.A. ports strike affected many manufacturers and distributors. The sooner you are aware of a potential issue, the more likely you are to find a way to lessen the pain or find a creative solution to avoid the potential problem.

Since risk is undoubtedly prevalent in today’s society, we must be vigilant regarding potential risks. For example, the Target and Home Depot security risks seem to be becoming commonplace. Perhaps that’s why CSI Cyber has gained in popularity.

Since technologies and systems are constantly upgraded and improved (obsoleting the “latest and greatest” at shorter and shorter intervals), if you are not up to speed, you will be left in the dust. For example, I just upgraded my phone solely because it was “too slow” because the software upgrades no longer worked with the hardware effectively. Manufacturing equipment is also constantly upgraded. Do you need the improvements? You must at least understand the options – your competitors will! How about the latest best practices related to your business? Certainly, as the Amazon effect has taken place, you should be aware of multi-channel distribution strategies for example.

I was recently interviewed by the Manufacturers Corner on supply chain trends to leverage for success in 2015. Check it out here.  I’m always interested in your feedback and ideas. Please email me with your comments.

Continue reading on how to strengthen your Eagle Eye:

Leveraging Supply Chain Trends

5 Way to Improve Processes

crosssupplychain-300x201.jpgI find that cross-functional teams can be some of the most valuable teams that generate winning ideas. By taking a diverse team of people with different backgrounds and areas of focus and providing a common goal, ideas arise that never would have occurred with a silo approach. In my estimation, my clients that support cross-functional teams achieve at least 30% better results. Thus, why not consider the same idea with cross-supply chain opportunities?

Start with your customers. Typically there are several customers within a supply chain. At the most basic level, there are internal and external customers. However, outside of your organization, think about your customers’ customers?  Is there a way you can create a cross-customer team to find ways to achieve customer delight throughout your supply chain?

If your customer sells to the end user, consider customer surveys or polls. If your customer sells through a distributor, involve the distributor. And so on… Then search for opportunities to leverage across your supply chain for win-win-win-win results.  Even if you achieve a win-equal-equal-win, it would be worth it. Your end customer received a win. Wouldn’t it be likely that growth would follow? Also, if you collaborate for combined success even though you come out “even”, I’ve found that it gets your cross-supply chain team thinking. A win often arises for you as well from unexpected places.

Continue reading on how to strengthen your Eagle Eye:

Want to Improve Your Business But Not Sure Where to Start? 

The Collaboration Platform

Fotolia_59018698_XS-300x200.jpgCreating an innovative culture is cornerstone to success! In today’s new normal business environment, customers expect “stand above the crowd” service with high-value products and services as the norm. The only way to achieve these lofty expectations without breaking the bank is to create a culture of innovation.

Focus on how to create and leverage innovation to not only improve your profitability but also to leapfrog your competition. You must change the playing field – and therefore the rules of the game – and throw out your old business models and practices. Instead, you need to think and practice innovation.

Anyone can be innovative. It doesn’t require a background in R&D or fancy degrees. According to “Inside Steve’s Brain” by Leander Kahney, about the late Steve Jobs and creative innovation, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”

Thus, innovation is not some complex, non-understandable phenomenon. In addition to pure creativity, it’s about re-packaging – literally and figuratively – by connecting the dots in a new way and seeing trends and hidden profit opportunities. The great news is that you can learn innovative techniques, and the most important element is to provide a culture of innovation that supports employee’s trials and errors.

So, how do you go about creating a culture of innovation? Learn more and register for our upcoming APICS-IE executive panel and executive symposium on the theme of innovation to learn more. We have several world-renowned experts on innovation. Learn tips and strategies from the best!

In the interim, here are a few keys I’ve found to successfully creating an innovative culture: 1) Focus on the customer. 2) It’s all about the people. 3) Flexibility.

1. Focus on the customer. Everyone says they focus on the customer’s needs, but do they? Are they doing what they think the customer wants or are they truly finding out what the customer values? It is easy to go down the road of features and benefits without understanding your customers’ priorities.

So, how do you find out? Talk with customers. Ask for the laundry list of requests but do not stop there. Ask questions to help prioritize the list with the customer in mind. Which are relevant to how the customer competes in the marketplace? Make sure your entire organization is focused on the customer – asking questions and providing value but not just jumping to each, non-prioritized non-value added request.

2. It’s all about the people. It sounds strange for a discussion about innovation; however, the best people will create innovative ideas, products, and services. Consider asking your employees, your customers, your suppliers and other partners and trade associations. Undoubtedly, there will be a plethora of ideas.

Value the ideas, and give your employees room to try them out. The quickest way to kill a culture of innovation is to encourage ideas but not follow through and support them. It is much harder to implement than it sounds! In my experience, the first time an idea fails and causes month-end issues or customer problems, innovation is stifled. To counter this, we must reward mistakes (assuming it is not a repeated, same mistake) as it is a critical component of cultivating a culture of innovation. Have you thought about rewarding the best idea that didn’t work?

3. Flexibility: Do not become married to one idea, one product, one customer’s perception, etc. Instead, create solutions that build in flexibility – think of the nontraditional “and” of two, seemingly opposite ideas. For example, instead of thinking that reducing inventory will result in poor customer service, since you might not have as many products available to ship, think about how to reduce inventory and increase customer service simultaneously. Build flexibility into your people, processes, projects, staffing plans and the like so that you can respond rapidly to key customer requests without significant cost.

Since only those leaders who are innovative will THRIVE, please join us to hear the innovation masters discuss strategies for success.

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Lost in Culture Change Maze? Here are 4 Strategies for Success!

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpgI’ve been thinking about the power of Amazon since I facilitated an APICS tour of their San Bernardino 1.2 million-square-foot facility on Friday. It was quite impressive from several viewpoints: 1) warehouse automation, 2) simplicity, 3) how they treat their people, 4) the power of continuous improvement, 5) their focus on the customer no matter the position, and 6) quick deliveries.

Amazon has enormous power yet it didn’t exist until 1994. They certainly are the epitome of innovation and a customer-focused philosophy. What can we pick up from Amazon to boost our customer focus?

One tip to implement this week:

Although Amazon has many intriguing aspects, their focus is on the customer – and therefore the employee (as smart companies know that it is impossible to have unhappy employees providing exceptional service to happy customers) stands out in the crowd.  No matter your position at Amazon, you are thinking about how your job relates to the customer. We can all try that out for size.

We ALL have an effect on the customer. Think about how, and think about how you can improve upon your customers’ experience. It could be a direct correlation or an indirect one – meaning, if you help the next person in line perform better, it will carry over to the customer.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

Knowing how precious the weekends are for busy supply chain, manufacturing and distribution professionals needing to recharge their internal batteries, we’ve been hard at work carefully preparing another informative symposium and networking event.

The ideas-rich symposium will give attendees time to network as well as participate in an expert panel discussing how our current business climate demands we innovate, how companies have integrated innovation into their cultures and where to look for new ideas to remain competitive.

For our Spring 2015 Executive Panel & Networking Symposium, we are proud to have assembled a dynamic panel including the nationally-recognized authority in the transportation sector and on the global supply chain, Fran Inman, a member of the California Transportation Commission and VP of Majestic Realty, Chief Procurement Officer Rich Malone of WET, an innovative company that builds and installs the world’s biggest fountains like Las Vegas’ Bellagio, and Bob Bennett, president of Lean Consulting Associates, LLC and former Lean expert for Toyota.

Please join us for an informative panel discussion, breakfast buffet and the opportunity to meet peers and network with others in our industry. Here are the details:

Saturday, May 2nd

8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Eagle Glen Golf Club

1800 Eagle Glen Pkwy.

Corona, Calif. 92883

Register here and join us for an invigorating morning of conversation, information and fellowship. Also remember to get these benefits year round by becoming a member of APICS-IE.


The Value of SIOP

Posted by lisaanderson Apr 4, 2015

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpgI’ve been thinking about the value of SIOP (sales, inventory and operations planning). Not only can it be a great way to gain bottom line results (capacity to support business growth, improved margins, accelerated cash flow), but it also can help align the functions of an organization. I’ve facilitated three executive SIOP meetings in the last few weeks. In each case, the process brought up critical business topics not otherwise addressed and better aligned the people on one page with one plan.

For example, in one of the executive SIOP meetings, the “next” potential bottleneck surfaced through the SIOP data. Instead of it being a contentious topic as it typically had been, it was brought up as just the “next” area of focus in order to keep the momentum flowing in the right direction. This can make a significant difference to teamwork as folks rally around a mutual plan for success instead of fighting over turf battles.

One tip to implement this week:

SIOP is not something that you’d implement in a week; however, the basis of SIOP is culture change. Start by thinking about how to get everyone on one page. Perhaps the best way to do that is to start by listening. Ask your colleagues for their thoughts and ideas for success. I find that almost all “goldmines” are found with people who already exist within an organization but are either not valued or no one thought to ask them. Simply ask people for their ideas and listen.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

Fotolia_73332488_XS-300x259.jpgMixed messages from leaders not only harm results but they also are a motivation killer! I’ve had several situations arise recently from a variety of clients and contacts related to the harm of mixed messages, and so I thought it appropriate to discuss. According to mySkills Gap research, 77% of manufacturers and distributors are having trouble finding the required skills to support their business. Thus, the last thing we can afford is to make that situation worse by de-motivating our stars with mixed messages!

For example, a superstar performer at one of my clients received recognition last month for her exemplary work. This month, she was called out in a meeting for doing something that didn’t seem to align with “standard work”.  The interesting thing is that what she is doing is an IMPROVED process. Talk about confusing and de-motivating to be called out for doing something ‘good’ (although viewed as bad) while the majority in the meeting are not achieving the baseline goal yet were not called out! As odd as this seems, I find that it is not uncommon.

As leaders, we must take time to think about how our messages are perceived. If we want to thrive, we need the FULL motivation and focus of our employees, especially are star players. Thus, we must ensure we “do what we say” and “say what we do”. We also need to think through when and how we bring up poor performance. In my example, there was no poor performance; however, if there were, it is not effective to bring it up in a meeting full of the employee’s peers. I’ve found that it is quite possible to turn poor performance into high performance with constructive feedback and mentoring.

Additionally, if we do not address poor performance, it is the largest de-motivator to star employees. Although more comfortable for the leader (as you don’t have to have the hard conversations), it is one of the best ways to lose top performers. They will go where they are appreciated. Although the lack of money is a de-motivator, money alone is not a motivator. The vast majority of employees are motivated by contributing to the company’s success and by being valued for their work. Think long and hard before chasing away your top performers!

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to Profit Through People:

Project Failure: How to Avoid Top Causes

Want to Improve Communications?

IveBeenThinkingBlog-1024x459.jpgI’ve been thinking about perseverance. I can attribute the majority of my success throughout the years to perseverance. I guarantee I’ve passed by people who were smarter and more talented by not giving up. My parents have been instrumental in this process because they always made me think that I could do anything I set my mind to achieve, and they demonstrated persistence.

Historically my Mom has been known for her perseverance; however, I have to say that my Dad has taken his challenging lot of Parkinson’s in combination with multiple stroke recoveries with just about as positive an attitude as possible (and my Mom pushing behind him).

I just got back from AZ for a brief visit and to help them with errands, etc. My dad’s Parkinson’s is getting worse, and I really hope he can maintain. My dad’s doctor told my mom that she is obviously doing a great job in keeping him active; otherwise he wouldn’t be walking; period. Persistence pays off. The same is true in work life. When you run into an obstacle, do you stop? Or do you find new ways to succeed?

One tip to implement this week:

Perseverance starts with your state of mind. When the first thing goes awry this week (whether BIG or small), take a few extra minutes to think about it before you react. What would you typically do? What is your end objective? How will your reaction positively or negatively affect your end objective? Try not to blame. We all know people who still blame their parents for things that happened 70 years ago or who blame their boss for screwing up their career. It is easy to do so don’t worry about the past. Instead, put that energy to use in a different way. Look for potential solutions. I guarantee that if you shift your mindset, success will follow – if you give it enough time and persistance.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

feedback-300x200.jpgFeedback can be invaluable; however, it can also be the opposite. As my HR mentor used to say, do not react to all feedback. Consider who is providing the comment. Sometimes, people mean well and provide feedback; however, it is not appropriate or accurate. Sometimes, people are jealous, and it taints the feedback. On the other hand, critiques can often times provide immense value from the right people and in the right circumstances.

Be open to reviews. Request it from those you trust will provide honest (at least from their perspective) and value-added information. For example, I’ve always encouraged feedback as it can accelerate your progress. Don’t let it get you down. Instead, consider it a gift. If people didn’t care, they wouldn’t tell you. And, you know which comments to ignore from those who want to hurt you. Listening to feedback also lets people know that you value their input. Don’t overlook the importance of feedback!

In addition, if you have people reporting to you, provide feedback. Do NOT wait until performance reviews. Provide feedback continually – both positive and constructive. Once people realize you are interested in their success, they will listen and value your opinion. Be specific with positive reviews. How else will the recipient know what to repeat and build upon? Be clear with ideas for improvement and provide opportunities to try them out. Even if you don’t have people reporting to you, provide feedback. Make sure you approach them in a good way; however, make time to provide them with thought-out value.

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Develop a Talent Edge

The 3 C’s to Leadership Success

Fotolia_69357842_XS-300x127.jpgIn today’s new normal business environment, customer service is pivotal in project management ONLY if you want to ensure success. According to my firm’s recent research report, Amazon Effect, which covered the role of customer service for manufacturers and distributors, 67% feel customer service gaps vs. Amazon-like offerings. Technical skills alone will no longer be sufficient; project managers must create an environment of customer service to accelerate results.

For example, one of my clients has several projects going at the same time. One of them is crucial to bring staffing to the levels required to meet customer orders. They have found that if the folks on that project team are not feeling their importance to the company’s results and to their end customers, they perform their job; however, it is not enough! Progress is too slow. On the other hand, once they felt included in the process and a key part of customer service, results picked up. Do you want to leave your most important priorities to chance? Or would you rather create a customer service culture?

No successful executive will choose the former. Thus, it is worthwhile to think about how to bring an element of customer service into your projects and project teams. A few strategies to achieving a customer service edge include: 1) Engage employees. 2) Involve your supply chain. 3) Provide tools & support.

1. Engage Employees: You must start with an engaged project team. Little else matters. Have you ever seen unhappy employees with happy customers? Me either! It’s also likely you haven’t seen unhappy project team members with happy customers. Thus, start with your project team.

Do you have a compelling vision? Why would they feel their part of the project is important? Are they involved in making a difference in some way? Do they know how they contribute to the vision? How do they add value? How do they know? Are you providing feedback? Do you appreciate progress? For example, when a milestone is achieved, do you recognize the team? Also, are you giving project team members opportunities to get on the projects they are excited about or can learn from? A lot goes into engaging employees.

You’d be amazed as to how the most unlikely project team member can contribute to creating a customer service edge if included in the process. In my experience, I’ve seen engineers close a sale, I.T. leaders create customer intimacy, and supply chain employees create a customer service edge. The common ingredient is engaged employees. How important is service to you?

2. Involve your partners: Now that your project team is on board, you cannot afford to stop there. A customer service edge can only be created by involving your project’s customers, suppliers, and cross-functional partners – after all, how will you achieve your project objectives if your customers consistently change their mind at the last minute and your suppliers provide unreliable inputs to the process?

For example, in one company, we implemented a vendor-managed inventory program with our #1 customer, and we went from unreliable service levels to winning the coveted Supplier of The Year Award. We started with our project team and expanded to involve our customers’ project members and other partners such as carriers and IT partners so that we could collaborate for success. We became more intimately involved with our internal and external partners by collaborating with R&D and engineering on packaging, collaborating with our customers on the use of their demand data and sales inputs for the forecast and collaborating with carriers on optimizing transportation lanes and associated costs. Success followed as the project team saw these partners as part of their extended team.

3. Provide tools and support: Last but not least, the best strategies fail in execution; thus, what can we do to ensure we beat the odds and create a customer service edge? Focus on execution – blocking and tackling. Don’t just dictate a customer service style of thinking on your project team. Explain its importance. Provide coaching. Support the process with systems. Build customer service into the project team members’ expectations and coordinate with the appropriate leaders to make sure it is part of the performance management process. Celebrate success. With a clear strategy and the appropriate support, customer service will thrive.

In today’s new normal business environment, project results are of the utmost importance as growth and profitability is cornerstone to success. Only those who create a customer service edge will thrive. Don’t follow the pack; instead, stand out from the crowd with a customer service edge for your project, and leverage the opportunity to leapfrog the competition.

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Customer Service

How to Effectively Engage Employees and Achieve Results