With the holidays behind us, it’s a great time to re-evaluate where you’ve been for the past year and what you want your business to look like going forward. Strategies founder Neil Ducoff offers these 10 New Year’s resolutions to set the stage for a great ’09.
1. Always put people before profit. Period. Do that, lead them with passion, trust them to do the right thing, give them the freedom to do it, help them have fun, and the profit will come.
2. Listen and really hear what employees have to say. They are the front line of your business that customers see and they hold the insights to make things better. Respond to their suggestions and make them feel valuable.
3. Always clarify expectations. People need to know where they stand and where they are going. Paint a high-definition picture of your desired outcome, then establish progress checkpoint dates and times. Start each day or shift with a huddle. Provide positive and constructive feedback at every turn. Share the information they need to do their jobs.
4. Create equality and fairness by eliminating double standards. This means the same rules that apply to your team apply to you and that all team members are treated the same. It also means you and all your team members will roll up your sleeves and pitch in when needed and that you never talk about, gossip about, or degrade an employee to others.
5. Tackle the tough stuff before it gets out of hand. Right now, you know exactly what’s on that short list of problems and issues your company needs to address. Address and fix them now because it’s easier to stamp out a matchstick than a blazing forest fire.
6. Never put off a crucial conversation, even if it’s outside of your comfort zone. When you avoid or fail to act on an issue or problem, you are dealing with a leadership blockage. Acting from emotions can interfere with your ability to see and confront reality and lead to great frustration on both sides. Once you do, you’ll wonder why you waited so long.
7. Raise the bar on customer service to the highest rung. Customer loyalty comes from delivering extraordinary service, quality, and value with a no-compromise passion. No matter what business you are in, customer loyalty drives the true growth leaders. It starts by listening to your customers and your front-line team. Never accept inferior performance or poor quality service. Your customers will notice, whether or not they tell you.
8. Protect the financial integrity of the company. Accountability at all levels of the company when it comes to adherence to its financial control systems is the determining factor of your company’s profitability performance. You need to create a cash-flow projection, to live your plan, to pay attention to all your financial reports, to understand your financials, build cash reserves, and manage debt.
9. Achieve maximum consistency through accountability to your systems. Systems give your business predictability. They reduce the chances of things going awry, spinning out of control, or otherwise becoming more stressful than necessary.
10. Create a no-compromise culture that is pure world class. Strengthen, nurture, and protect your business culture from contamination at all costs. Great leaders aren’t great because they’re innovative, understand numbers, or have good communication skills. They’re great because they design, build, and fiercely protect the cultures they are empowered to lead.
Best wishes for a happy and profitable 2009!