You Can Still Finish Strong

Fall symbolizes the coming to a close of the year.

As the last quarter starts, there remains hope that great things can still take place; that breakthrough relationships, products and possibilities can surface and hard work will yield results to be harvested.

Nine months into 2014, now is the time for leaders in every company to push people and processes into high gear.

The biggest shame to befall any business leader is to begin a new year with the goal of having the year end in a better place, and then face the brutal facts at year end that the business is in worse condition than when the year started.

Ask five questions to check how far, or not your company has progressed:

1. Are we still selling vanilla ice cream? Continuing to sell a “me too” commodity like everyone else does only leads to ever shrinking margins. Many companies get into the trap of selling only on price because they have not correctly positioned themselves in the market, but more importantly, because there is no viable reason for a buyer to pay more.

The turnaround can still take place in the remaining time left in the year. A breakthrough organization is always on the hunt for a more compelling competitive advantage and the search for higher margins by developing products that are worthy of a higher price.

Lock your brainpower in a room until this opportunity had been completely addressed.

2. What have you done to retain the best and engage or replace the rest? Every business is based on the quality of the people in the organization. The challenge of the leader is to retain the very best managers and to engage as many employees as possible.

A superior management team is one that is capable of executing quickly, effectively and efficiently. An engaged workforce of employees make the difference in providing client care over and above what is expected.

If there are people working in your company that don’t care about their employer, why should you keep them on the payroll? People that won’t engage can find work elsewhere.

3. Why are you hesitating paying for performance? Good people are an investment in the future of a company. Give people the opportunity to earn a return on what they deliver.

The issue with many pay for performance programs is that they do not extend deep enough into the organization, thereby creating deep chasms between departments. This creates anger, frustration, a lack of teamwork and misalignment.

When the team wins, the entire team should be rewarded.

4. Are you really leading from the front? The one thing that makes Pete Carroll, the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, standout as a leader is his over whelming display of enthusiasm and energy. He is focused on winning and it shows; he leads from the front all the time.

I’m not asking you to act like Pete Carroll. But you need to be visible, focused and transferring enthusiasm to your team.

5. Finally, is everyone aligned? The responsibility of every leader is to define what winning is for the company and each team and individual in it; provide the tools and the atmosphere to win, and to keep the team focused and moving towards the goal of winning.

I have discovered that far too many companies don’t take the time to educate the people on the payroll why what they do is important and how what they do impacts other people, other departments and the clients.

Invest the time to get people working together towards common goals so they can help their company win.

2014 is far from over.