As many businesses are still experiencing sporadic or flat-lined economic recovery, and competition has intensified, few areas remain where a company can differentiate itself from its competitors. Technology disruptions have leveled the playing field and the barriers to entry in certain markets are now within the reach of savvy entrepreneurs and small to medium enterprises.
Many companies are now becoming aware that their survivability requires a combination of management soft skills, engaged and empowered employees and technology. Companies interested in making more strategic investments to accelerate growth will need to have certain fundamental characteristics as the economy improves if they want to achieve better profitability. So what are these traits that enable companies to sustain growth and profitability in this hyper-competitive marketplace?
Abundant research results and anecdotal evidence both point to the same key characteristics. The linkage between them and financial performance is a very tangible one and signifies one of the few remaining prospects for competitive advantage.
The following are six common characteristics of companies that “get it.”
They emphasize ethical leadership
Ethics is not just about knowing right from wrong. It is selecting, unswervingly, to do that which is right. Effective leaders must lead by example, and possess and demonstrate integrity. This should start from the boardroom and cascade down throughout the organization. When embedded in the company, ethical behavior becomes an integral part of a solid base for employee satisfaction. It conveys to all stakeholders that company management places a high value on ethical behavior for the long-term survivability of the organization.
They have responsive management
At these companies, management has its ear to the ground to capture both its customers’ and employees’ voices. Management obtains their input, values it and implements changes based on it. After all, there is a symbiotic relationship between the customers and the employees.
Goals are clear, defined, and understood by all
Smart companies establish links that intertwine the goals of both employees and the organization. Attainable goals are mutually agreed that have identified deliverables by specific time frames and measurable metrics. These companies use proven motivation factors and build employee satisfaction to ensure that employees comprehend and, more importantly, care about how their jobs contribute to the success of the company, and to the overall good of the company’s customers.
Short-term results matter, but management is for the long-term
Research repeatedly shows that companies with an enduring adherence to clearly specified goals build a superior level of customer and employee satisfaction than companies that change priorities on the run. This obligation to the long-term not only inspires employees to remain with the company, but also bolsters their capacity to contribute to financial performance repeatedly. Moreover, customers view companies in a more favorable light when they know that the company is not a fly-by-night entity.
Measurements and monitoring
Companies with a high focus on the employee-to-customer-to-profitability chain continuously measure everything: market share, customer service, customer satisfaction, product/service quality, employee satisfaction, service delivery, process efficiencies…everything. This allows them to establish what’s working and what’s not, and to fine tune things accordingly. Recurring reassessments also enable these companies to profit from an inflow of fresh ideas and new viewpoints.
Employees are authorized to act in customers’ best interests
Frequently, clients find themselves involved in a customer service situation where the customer is upset, both by the inconvenience and the fact that the company employee is plainly unable to solve anything because of “policies.” Arguably, policies are important. However, compare that experience with what you would find at a Ritz-Carlton, where the employee is authorized to solve your problem right then and there.
Ritz-Carlton employees are trained to break routine to solve problems and own them until they are resolved. They work hard to foresee customer needs, and employees are empowered with up to $2,000 to resolve any customer concern. Now which company would get your patronage again and again?
Today, the linkage between management soft skills, engaged/empowered employees, technology and financial performance is indisputable, based on numerous studies that support the correlation. Consequently, companies have a unique opportunity to gain competitive advantage and differentiation by harnessing these assets.
By doing so, the possibilities for growth are endless.