Tag Archives: Needs

How Do You Handle A Loyal Employee Who No Longer Fits? Three Thoughts

Situation: A company has a long-term loyal employee who has served in a number of roles. The company is growing, and no longer has a clear role for this individual. This individual can’t and doesn’t want manage either other employees or projects. The CEO wants to be compassionate with this individual to honor their loyalty, but finds himself in a quandary. How would you handle a loyal employee who no longer fits the company’s needs?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Your desire to treat this individual compassionately is commendable. This individual has been loyal and has served you well. There are a couple of questions to ask: is there a valuable function that this individual can serve within the company, and is this individual essential to the company?
    • What happens when this individual goes on vacation? Are there gaps in service or function?
    • Who handles this individual’s duties while they are on vacation?
    • If the answer to these questions is that others fill in easily and not a beat is missed, particularly when this individual is absent for long vacations, then either they have made excellent preparations prior to their vacation absence, or they may not be essential to the team.
  • As a business grows, it changes. Not everyone who came onboard early will have a place as the company grows. Think of a pick-up basketball team on the local playground. In pick-up basketball, you play with whoever is available. Let’s say that the team starts to improve, and they decide to join a competitive league. Now the game starts to change, and some of the buddies who played pick-up ball won’t be able to make the shift to competitive ball. They aren’t bad people; they just no longer fit the game that the team is playing.
  • You may need to sit down with this individual and have a heart-to-heart discussion about the needs of the company and their ability to serve these needs. This is difficult, but if there is truly no longer a role for this person, then you need to be honest with them while at the same time honoring their past contribution.

Key Words: Company, Growth, Needs, Roles, Manage, Function, Value, Essential, Honesty, Contribution

How Do You Transform Company Culture? Three Keys

Interview with Joe Payne, CEO, Eloqua

Situation: A company is the leader in an expanding market. To sustain growth, they must transform how their people operate so that they better address and serve the needs of their target customers. How do you transform company culture?

Advice from Joe Payne:

  • We have a saying at Eloqua: Culture eats strategy for breakfast. More important than this year’s product strategy is the culture you build that let’s employees make decisions on the fly because they know “that’s how we do things at Eloqua.”
    • Look at how you pay and reward your people. We all receive bonuses on the same team metrics: company sales, profitability, and customer satisfaction. If the team wins, we all win.
    • We are not a democracy, but everyone has a voice. Although we make decisions as a business, we avoid top-down management. We push as much authority and accountability as far down the organization chart as we can. You can only do this well with a strong culture.
  • We adopted a mantra to guide our way, “Get it done – Do it right”, and a set of metrics to make it part of our culture.
    • We created a two-by-two grid, with “Get it Done” on the Y-axis and “Do it Right” on the X-axis on which all employees, including the Executive Team, are plotted. If rated in the top right quadrant, that employee is doing well. If someone finds himself or herself plotted in the Upper Left quadrant (getting it done, but not doing it right), that person has one quarter to improve. Lower Right people get two months. Lower lefters are out that day.
    • We can measure “getting it done” using standard quantitative metrics, but “doing it right” is more qualitative. We ask questions like, “Is the person a positive source of energy for the team? Does she go above and beyond for other staff and for customers?” We provide examples to help evaluators plot individual performance.
    • Once we instituted this matrix, one of our top selling sales reps was evaluated as being in the top left quadrant. When he only paid lip-service to changing and didn’t correct this behavior after a quarter, we let him go, numbers and all. This decision was both a major “wow” and a major win for the company.
  • Culture and culture change start at the top.

You can contact Joe Payne at joe.payne@eloqua.com

Key Words: Culture, Growth, Transform, Customer, Needs, Pay, Reward   

How Do You Chase A Moving Ball? Three Fundamentals

Interview with Michelle Bonat, CEO and Founder, RumbaFish Technologies

Situation: Early stage companies focusing on social commerce and analytics face an unpredictable market. Nobody can accurately forecast market direction or even who the players will be in 2 to 3 years. What are best practices for chasing a moving ball?

Advice from Michelle Bonat:

  • In a rapidly evolving market it is critical to have laser-like focus on the needs of your customers. You must create value for them by understanding their needs, businesses and challenges. While technologies and markets change and evolve, human behavior is remarkably consistent over time. By focusing on rewards, sharing and customer motivations we better understand their needs. We see three fundamentals in working with customers.
  • First, focus on understanding needs versus wants. If Henry Ford had asked what customers wanted for better transportation they would have said “a faster horse.” They needed a faster way to get from Point A to Point B without getting rained on. We invent solutions that are incrementally better at addressing fundamental customer needs by leveraging technology and social commerce.
  • Second, work collaboratively with your customer. As we develop an understanding of needs versus wants, we develop an arm in arm relationship with customers and partner to evaluate solutions that work for them. We use short versus long release cycles with frequent checkpoints to assure that both sides are on the same page and that we understand the features that are most important to the customer. As a result, our customers become evangelists not only for the resulting product or service, but for us!
  • Third, go into any project with the customer’s success foremost in your mind. We focus not only on getting the solution right, but on assuring that the solution optimizes the customer’s primary objectives. That way we all share in the win.
  • The bottom line is that customers want to be treated as individuals and want their individual needs met. We honor this and make it central to our customer interactions. This way, no matter where the market goes, we will be a player.

You can contact Michelle Bonat at michelle@rumbafish.com

Key Words: Strategy, Leadership, Social, Media, Commerce, Analytics, Predictability, Unpredictability, Market, Direction, Player, Customer, Value, Needs, Wants, Behavior, Engage, Share, Understand, Technology, Social Commerce, Collaborative, Relationship, Success, Solution, Individual

How Do You Fund Growth? Five Points of Focus

Interview with Hannah Kain, President & CEO, ALOM

Situation: While funding from banks and institutional sources has been challenging in recent years, growing companies need to fund their growth. How have you funded your company’s growth?

Advice from Hannah Kain:

  • We focus on frugality and prevent wWhile funding from banks and institutional sources has been challenging in recent years, growing companies need to fund their growth. How have you funded your company’s growthasteful spending. However we invest in tools that enable staff to purchase wisely and stay ahead of customer demands. We also collaborate with vendors to manage costs.
  • As a result, the last two years have not forced us to change how we fund growth. We are getting large contracts and work globally to solve customers’ logistics challenges. Our challenge has been moving from centralized distribution to strategically placed centers around the globe, increasing inventory costs and cash needs.
  • Where we have changed is in how we negotiate terms and credit with our customers. We manage vendor accounts payable to maximize cash flow while treating them as business partners. This requires close vendor communications to assure that everyone’s needs are met.
  • We have been cautious with our banks and seldom dip into credit lines. Managing vendor payments has been more effective.
  • Essential to vendor communications are open sharing of information and goal setting. We work to create a team atmosphere. This is similar to what we do in our offices. In our experience, instilling the right culture is far more powerful than financial incentives.
    • We share information through all-hands company meetings and regular updates so that everyone gets the full picture.
    • We also share information with our vendors so that each side is aware of the other’s needs.
    • We create an annual one-page business plan for the company, and parallel plans down to the supervisor level. Performance against plans is updated regularly to assure that we remain on top of situations.
  • We focus training on new tools. Our staff gets technology they need to be successful.
    • We generously provide technology to our employees, provided that they give a logical business rationale. This includes home computers, iPhones or Applets to help them do their jobs.
    • Similarly, when a vendor or customer asks for a service improvement or a new service with a good business rationale, we invest to support this.
  • These methods have allowed us to finance most of our growth internally.

You can contact Hannah Kain at hannah@alom.com

Key Words: Funding, Bank, Institutional, Growth, Spending, Tools, Empower, Customer, Demand, Costs, Vendor, Cash, Needs, Terms, Credit, AP, Partner, Payment, Information, Sharing, Goal, Culture, Performance, Technology, Service

How Do You Resolve a Conflict Involving a New Employee? Four Considerations

Situation: A company has hired a new employee with excellent skills who reports to a Director. This person is a self starter who prefers little supervision. Friction is starting to develop between the new employee and the Director. How do you resolve this conflict?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • This person was hired for their talent. However a successful hire takes account of talent, but also role, cultural fit, organizational placement and the needs of the company.
    • For example, if this person is strong in operations but they are now in client services, is this the right role?
    • Similarly, if the culture of the office emphasizes teamwork, collaboration and support, is this the right culture for this individual?
  • Be cautious before tweaking the org chart to create a new role for this person..
    • Consider both your current staff and the new person. You may be creating additional conflict if your actions appear as favoritism.
    • The dominant factor is YOUR plan. If the employee is wrong, replace the employee.
  • If an employee can’t get along with others it is a difficult situation to repair.
  • When you meet with the employee what should be said?
    • First, don’t try to solve the situation before you have a clear strategy.
    • Question and listen. “You’ve been with us a short time, and I want to check in with you. What do you think of your role?” Let the employee talk, probe for clarification of what is said. Take note of what is said. Acknowledge any requests but indicate that you will put them under advisement.
    • Do the same in discussion with the Director.
    • The key is that you are in control. Look at your objectives, and where you fit resources best within the org chart. Once you have your plan, communicate it.

Key Words: New Employee, Conflict, Friction, Talent, Role, Fit, Organization, Company, Needs, Strengths, Skills, Report, Personality, Act, Direct, Concerns, Boundaries, Response, Conversation

How Do You Manage Opportunities in This Economy? Five Ways

Interview with Keith Merron, CEO, Avista Consulting Group

Situation: Ongoing uncertainty makes it difficult to clarify strategies going forward. What are the bases for these uncertainties and how do you manage opportunities in this economy?

Advice:

  • The world is moving so rapidly that they key to success is differentiation. There is so much information about how to do this that companies start to look similar very quickly. The ability to stand out as different is critical. Ask yourself:
    • What is my target market?
    • What are the needs that my offer will satisfy?
    • What is my unique approach that is distinct from other solutions which meet these needs?
    • Once you identify the answers, you need to back these up.
  • One has the opportunity to write the future. If you can get one step ahead of the curve this is a huge advantage.
    • Products that died were often two steps ahead.
    • Successful visionaries see patterns that are emerging, sense what is next, and speak to that.
  • Because information is at your fingertips through the Internet anyone can set up a business. The Challenges are viability and sustainability. If these are present the opportunities are huge.
    • The web is a place where you can share information. How to monetize this is unclear.
    • Once you have a following you can offer things for sale that are valued by your following. When this happens, the potential for fast growth is more available than ever. So is the flip side. If a restaurant gets trashed on Yelp this can kill it!
  • In a recession, M&A activity is faster. This enables one to establish a presence much more easily.
    • There are many virtual companies. You no longer have to be in the same place to work together! There are also many ways to partner or co-brand via the Internet.
    • What’s hard is to create tensile strength in the relationship. Because it is so quick and easy to cobble together relationships, the biggest challenges are creating loyalty and commitment.
    • The needs are communications, motivation, commitment and follow-through – just like in a traditional company but in a virtual space. This creates a true bond.

You can contact Keith Merron at keithmerron@comcast.net

Key Words: Uncertainty, Opportunity, Differentiation, Target, Market, Needs, Approach, Timing, Patterns, Visionary, Internet, Following, Community, M&A