We all know that we are competing for business in a competitive world. We claim our people are our advantage. Or our product. Or some other magical ingredient.
Yet it is my experience that there are usually a number of factors that come together into a system of excellence rather than a single thing. High performing systems are composed of many parts including the people in them.
So what does that look like?
The Big Roles
As a business owner or entrepreneur you will probably hold three completely separate roles at points in time:
- Business builder
Sure you may wear many more hats but if you dig under the covers, you can probably put them all under these three categories.
As the business builder or entrepreneur you will design, plan and implement the growth of your business… working on the business. This includes everything from product and service creation to the systems required to find and serve your clients.
As soon as you throw more than one person into the picture, you will need to communicate the vision, goals and work to others and then hold them accountable for achieving it. It isn’t just all just vision and action from the front; there is a big management component as well.
As some level you will also be doing the work. Sales, marketing, providing products and services to clients, administration, finance.
Of course you can hire employees to do all three roles as well, but as the entrepreneur, you are ultimately responsible for them all. To really grow a business you need to be focused on the first two.
What are you doing to ensure that the key roles are being performed to excellence?
Looking outward, what is it that makes your clients or customers buy from you? What problem do you solve or value do you add that they are willing to part with time and money for? Who are your ideal clients and how do you attract and retain them?
If you want to attract and retain the best employees it is not really that much different than clients. You need to understand what your ideal employees look like. You need to ensure they have the talents, training and skills to perform their role in the organization to excellence. But it is their alignment with your mission, values and culture that will really set you apart. You always need to be searching for great talent and creating a great business will help draw them to you.
Product or Service Focus
Build great products or provide top notch service and clients may find you through word of mouth. Certainly companies like Apple started with the product focus. Interestingly enough, they rarely asked their customers what they wanted. It sometimes works like that for innovative companies. But they did understand their customers enough to build things they would want. So don’t lose sight of the customer.
What are you doing to ensure your products and services are excellent? That you are building a company where employees can provide excellent experiences for clients? One where your clients and employees are raving about you?
What About You?
I don’t mean just the owner, although they are included.
I mean you the reader. You. Everyone in an organization from the entrepreneur to the receptionist.
High performing organizations require high performing team members.
What are you doing to be excellent?
If you are like over 90% of employees, once you graduated from high school or university, you stopped actively learning; unless someone forced you to.
Why do you think most regulated or managed professions require continuing education? They know the profession and people in it will stagnate without continuous learning.
Most employees continue learning only through what their employer provides either formally or on the job. Before you prepare for your next job, make sure you are already doing the current one well.
Remember that you can hire for that learning drive but as an employer you can help create a learning and continuous improvement environment.
Can you imagine hockey players getting to the NHL and ending their training and improvement? If you want to stand out in business or on the job, the easiest path to excellence it to continue learning and to continue practicing your skills.
But not just any skills.
The ones that matter most to your clients, to your team, your organization, and to yourself. The ones where you add the most value because they are needed, you are good at them and you have enough passion and talent to continue to do them well.
Once you have mastered your role you can train others to do it as well. Make yourself redundant and worthy of moving up. Or stay where you are and just get better if that is your choice.
Excellence starts with you and flows into your organization and then back to you.
Every person and part of a system plays to the system’s overall performance.
It starts with YOU.
So what do you personally do to perform at the level of excellence?