I received this email last week. The author’s name has been withheld in order to protect his/her job: “I read your book Make Change Work. and it made me angry. What made me angry is the fact that I work as a management consultant for one of the largest consulting firms and I am ashamed how few (if any) of the wisdoms we actually take from your book and coach our clients accordingly. Very often, we are in gross ignorance of the very valid insights and tips you have in your little book.”
Who do you choose when there is very little difference between the choices? Do you take the time to understand the small factors that might distinguish one choice from another, or do you go with what is easy or the name that you hear the most often? There are four individuals running to represent their party for the office of state representative in the area where I live. All four seem like nice people, and all four are virtually indistinguishable in their stance on the issues. Seriously, you could copy and paste any of their individual responses onto the web site for any of their competitors, and no one would notice.
Leaders distinguish themselves in times of great risk and great reward. Whether it is the political leader who bolsters our confidence in times of crisis or the business leader who follows her instincts to seize an opportunity, we respect and admire the leader who is out front when the stakes are high.
Three weeks back I wrote about my exceptional service experience at Sewell Lexus of Dallas. The theme of the post was that it was the Sewell people rather than their product that has kept me as a loyal customer for over 20 years. The premise behind that post is the same one I offered in my 2006 book, Results Rule!: Fundamentals are the minimum. Being distinctive is the difference if it adds value. I can purchase a Lexus from a number of different dealers. The quality and service of the Sewell staff makes them distinctive in a way that adds extreme value. The very nice folks that service GE kitchen appliances just reminded me that you can’t forget the first part of my premise: Fundamentals are the minimum. Because without the fundamentals, there is nothing you can do to stand out with your customers (at least not in a positive way).
Every change is evaluated against the result AND the damage inflicted during its implementation. Ignore the people side of the change (feelings and perceptions), and it is only a matter of time before the desired results suffer, too. The type of change needed in today’s successful organizations is continuous. It is generated from every level, and it requires engagement and commitment from those involved. You can mandate compliance. Commitment and engagement to make change work are volunteered when you focus on more than the end result.
Delivering customer service – at least the way it is practiced in most companies – is easy. The customer asks you for something, and you give it to them. Building a culture that is obsessed with serving customers is hard. Carl Sewell’s family of auto dealerships is at or near the top for sales and service with the brands they represent for one simple reason: They are the best at sustaining a culture that serves customers.
Culture change follows behavior and performance change not the other way around. If you buy into that premise, the behavior and performance you expect, enable, measure, reward, and hold people accountable for will become the habits that define the culture. The best organizations have clarity, alignment, and execution across each of these areas. And that leads to the question of “how do you know a change is taking place?”
There has to be something we can learn from Washington’s failure to address the debt limit, right? There are three very important lessons about leading change you can take from the chaos over approving the federal budget and raising the debt ceiling.
Don’t worry about the sale. Just take care of the customer. Give the customer the best customer service you can deliver, even if the customer isn’t buying, and eventually the sale will come.
Great work leads to great results. In this guest blog, David Sturt from the O.C. Tanner Institute shares what was learned from research about how great work happens. This is fascinating info.