Six Barriers Preventing Companies from Winning
Why do some companies achieve results year after year and others in the same space cannot? Why do some organizations experience double digit percentage growth every year while the industry ambles along at less than 5% growth?
In the hundreds of companies that we have studied at Butler Street, along with the analysis from our research division, we have found some common themes in companies that struggle to win.
Here’s what we have found:
- Most companies have a strategic plan in place (even if it’s not written in detail), the strategy is generally sound.
- Most companies have pockets of greatness. Usually, the operations (front and back office) are in good shape and sometimes even industry-leading. Nevertheless, they still can’t grow.
- The barrier is in the execution. And only companies that do away with optional cultures are able to grow profitably and consistently.
If your company allows any of the following situations to happen, it may well be what’s preventing you from winning and will certainly be what will prevent you from winning in the future.
- Socially Accepted Excuses: Companies who allow their leaders to accept excuses that seem logical breed an optional culture. As an example, when they lose a client, they rationalize that the client was difficult, was only focused on price, was not a fit, etc. Or worse, they pretend that they really didn’t lose the client, it’s just that the need for the client product and service is simply no longer there. Allowing people in your organization to rationalize subpar performance is the first barrier to growth.
- Moving the Foul Pole: Companies who have different sets of rules for people with essentially the same role create confusion, drama, and make execution nearly impossible. Moving the Foul Pole is a reminder that no game can be properly played if the rules change inning by inning or quarter by quarter or worse, person by person. Execution requires that the rules of the game (your operating model) are defined and upheld, no matter who steps on the field.
- No Leadership Skill-Building Process: Companies can be quick to promote and even quicker to hire externally for key leadership positions. Sadly, they fail to provide the leadership development that success will require. To achieve consistent results, every leader must commit to continuous improvement of his or her skills, processes, and techniques and the company must provide a skill-building process.
- They Don’t Share: As I stated earlier, most companies have pockets of greatness. They also have high-performers (not enough of them, but nevertheless…). What they don’t have is way to identify and share the best practices of the high-performing people or teams. Companies that can transfer best practices within their organization quickly and efficiently are ones that have a better chance of achieving consistently high growth.
- They Don’t Know their Purpose: No matter what business a company is in, their purpose and meaning for existence is what makes the employees loyal and engaged. Leaders who talk about numbers and strategy without connecting it to meaning and purpose are holding the company back. They don’t share stories of the difference they make. Every company makes a difference. What is yours?Even the most self-motivated people can get discouraged if they are not reminded and shown that the work they do is valued.
- They Lack a System of Reinforcing Activities: “Strategy of the Day.” “New Shiny Toy.” It's easy to overwhelm an organization with new expectations they don't accept because they don’t tie together. Everyone has full plates and without reinforcement the employees come to realize that if they ignore it long enough, it will go away. That is why it's so important to introduce new tools, behaviors, and processes in a sequenced approach, one change at a time with a system of reinforcing activities that build upon each other.
What to Do Next
If you would like to move results at your organization more quickly, take a minute to give yourself and your organization a quick self-test in the six areas above. Then commit to real change in just one area and act. If you’d like help, give us a call. We can help you move from an optional culture to one that has high energy, highly-engaged employees who experience what it’s like to win!
At Butler Street, we help companies and their people grow. We get to see others achieve their personal goals, we get to help struggling sales professionals and leaders find success in their work. We make work easier. That keeps us working hard for you.
Mary Ann McLaughlin serves as a Managing Partner at Butler Street, a leading management consulting, training and research firm that focuses on client and talent development. Prior to Butler Street, she served in executive roles for 13 years including chief operating officer, president and managing director. A Six Sigma Champion certified executive, McLaughlin leverages her robust process background with 32 years of sales and operational experience.
A recreational triathlete, McLaughlin has completed three marathons (Chicago 2x, Marine Corps) and numerous triathlons. She holds a B.S. in Marketing from Bradley University.