Who Are Your Stars?

July 21st, 2019

In our 14 years of consulting experience and almost 30 years of working experience, we have found that 80% of executives spend the majority of their time with the 20% of employees who do not achieve results. Unfortunately, this means they don’t have time to spend with the stars who achieve 80% of the results. Do you fall into this trap as well? As executives commented in our 2019 predictions document, talent is a hot topic in today’s tight labor market. If you aren’t paying attention to your stars, they will jump ship to someone who does pay attention.

People don’t leave companies. They leave bosses!
As an executive, stop to think about what questions you are asking. Do you ask your direct reports about their stars? Could you identify the future stars of your organization? Or are you just addressing issues as they arise? Key customer issues. Board questions. Performance problems. Etc. If so, undoubtedly, you are receiving information from stars or they could be working behind the scenes, invisible to you. We find that these stars can be easily overlooked because they might not like the spotlight or they are likely to be the person to bring up unpopular topics. Does your culture support these stars or encourage them to stay hidden?

Here are ways to find your stars:

  1. Pay attention to who your leaders go to in order to get information. There is always a star behind the scenes who has the information when you need it. It is likely this person could be several layers below you and so you’ll need to pay attention.
  2. Have you asked old-timers for information or ideas lately? Ask employees who have been around a while. If they feel overlooked, they aren’t going to offer ideas and information until asked. However, when valued, you just might be surprised with some amazing results. We have had countless numbers of clients with this sort of hidden gem! Typically there is at least one person like this in every organization.
  3. Look for someone who might be unpopular in meetings because they’ll bring up issues. Frequently, there is someone who is willing to speak up about issues who becomes unpopular because the rest of the team doesn’t understand or think the issue will occur. This person is also seen as delaying the process. Sometimes, these folks are just problem employees but often they can be your stars. Stars are willing to speak up about issues, and if you listen to them, they will save you from all sorts of problems. Of course, if it was only that easy! Typically these folks might not be the best communicators, so they aren’t seen as stars by their managers. You’ll have to look hard.
  4. Look for the influencers. Although not typically in a position of power, the masses will follow them because they trust their judgment. This isn’t obvious because leaders aren’t involved. Look for who employees go to with questions or look for who they will go to if issues occur.
  5. Ask each employee about his/her ideas and/or create small group discussions. Once you gain trust, you’ll rapidly identify your stars.

Since your stars are responsible for 80% of the results and are the go-to people for any project worth doing, there is a dramatic ROI in finding your stars and embracing them. It certainly seems worth the effort of checking in on a few employees each time you walk through the office. Don’t stop and talk with your favorites or those with which you have common interests. Instead, stop at the first desk that wouldn’t part be part of your routine. Be interested and listen. We’ll bet you learn compelling ideas rapidly. Let us know how it goes and what strategies you find the most successful in finding your stars! We are always interested in this vital topic.

Did you like this article?  Continue reading on this topic:

Employee Performance: Do Not Ignore Your Stars

People Rule!



Biggest Shakeup in Decades Coming to the Shipping Industry with IMO Regulations

July 18th, 2019

According to Reuters, the biggest shakeup in decades is coming to the shipping industry as the IMO regulations go into force in January. Shipping owners have to cut sulfur emissions from 3.5% to .5% which is a reduction of 85%! This means they’ll have to use low-sulfur fuel, install exhaust gas cleaning systems, use expensive liquefied gas or go slower. None of these are nominal costs. And, certainly going more slowly will exacerbate an already problematic situation where customers’ Amazon-like expectations aren’t being met!

 

Analysts think the container industry could incur an extra $10 billion in costs. That isn’t pocket change! It is expected that there could be a 10-20% increase in operating costs in related companies. Twenty five shipping container executives said they plan to pass along costs to customers. The shipping industry is tired of absorbing costs. Are you prepared for the likely impacts of this massive change?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Are you keeping up on the latest news such as these changing regulations? If not, you must start unless you want to be run over by your competition! For starters, if you are in an industry related to the container and shipping industry (which almost every company has some relation because no one operates completely in isolation), figure out the likely impacts. Should you be doing what some beneficial cargo owners are doing in moving up shipments so that it is less likely you’ll get ‘stuck’ during the holiday season? On the other hand, last year, when the tariffs caused extra imports, rates increased and containers were held up.

If you are a manufacturer, are you re-evaluating sourcing? Perhaps it is time to re-shore and near-shore as the total cost is no longer compelling to source from Asia in most industries and non-commodity products. This is without considering the dramatic difference in lead times, inventory requirements and associated working capital considerations. Don’t just follow the fads. Find an expert and figure out what makes sense for your situation.

Trucking companies are also likely to be negatively impacted. Now, they’ll have increased competition for low sulfur fuel. According to the Reuters article, it could double the price of diesel fuel. Wow! If there ever was a topic related to the resilient supply chain, this could be it!

What are you doing to build flexibility into your supply chain and your organizational design? If you are interested in a resilient supply chain assessment, contact us. You’ll find more information on these types of topics on our resilient supply chain series.



A Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity for Manufacturing, Logistics & CA to Align

July 15th, 2019

Last week, I went to the California Capitol building as a part of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership’s (IEEP) regional leadership academy. It was interesting to hear how the process works. I also am also representing the IEEP’s Logistics Council as it relates to moving forward with the Brookings report recommendations to create a consortium of logistics and advanced manufacturing excellence in the Inland Empire.

We are positioned ideally to scale up and partner with industry, academia and government/non-profit partners to achieve this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of aligning seemingly disparate goals of manufacturing, logistics, California government and the federal government’s interests to achieve a win-win-win-win. Wouldn’t that be a feat!

The idea is simple. The Inland Empire’s predominant high-paying professions include logistics and manufacturing. The IE has been outpacing all of California in job creation due to these industries yet they are not typically supported (to say the least!). Since they are contributing vitally to the IE community and jobs, we have the cards stacked in our favor:

  • IE logistics is #1 in the U.S.
  • IE manufacturing is strong and vast (SoCal is #1 in manufacturing in the U.S.)
  • The IE has access to great talent in the local and surrounding area universities (CSUSB, UCR, Drucker, Harvey Mudd, Cal Poly, Redlands), community colleges (Norco, Chaffey etc.), and partners such as GA Tech
  • And, the IE is in the unique position to leverage advanced technology to increase customer value, improve profit and create clean technologies as a win for the environment, X.

Thus, we are scaling up and collaborating for success.

This opportunity didn’t just fall into the IE’s lap. The leaders saw potential and ‘went for it’. Are you looking for opportunities?

One tip to implement this week:
In our work with clients, it is commonplace for clients to ignore vast opportunities such as this exciting initiative. There are always roadblocks, different interests, money flows to address and lots of other issues that arise. The key question is whether you are looking at each issue as a detriment or if you see the big picture and train your eye to ‘see’ a successful path forward.

Recently, our APICS Inland Empire chapter had the opportunity to provide training and education to Target (thanks to our partnership with the University of LaVerne). When the opportunity arose, we didn’t know how we would scale up and fulfill it successfully. However, we took the leap of faith to create value and had the confidence that we’d figure it out.

At first, we were worried about executing against our commitments.  Yet, it all fell into place. It forced us to be a bit more creative.  So, when the next leap of faith opportunity arose to provide manufacturing and logistics education to high school students to help bridge the gap to a profitable career, we went for it. We continue to evolve as we go but it has allowed us to make a difference in a way we would never had pursued or been involved with previously. Are you taking a leap of faith?



How Customer Service & Retention Directly Impact Profits & Performance

July 12th, 2019

Since I’ve been speaking to CEOs about “Pricing & Profits”, the true impact of customer service and retention is arising as a game changer. Can you create a situation where you make a “forever promise” to your customers? It certainly will directly impact your customers’ perceptions of your value and your bottom line!

The statistics are staggering:

  • According to Bain & Company, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25-95%
  • According to Harvard Business Review, it is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one.
  • According to Salesforce, 74% of people are likely to switch brands if they find the purchasing process too difficult.
  • U.S. consumers are willing to spend 17% more to do business with companies that deliver excellence customer service
  • According to Newvoicemedia.com, after one negative experience, 51% of customers will never do business again with that company.

Do you know how your company is doing?

 

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Clearly, in reviewing the statistics, we should all be ultra vigilant about customer service and the customer experience.

Where do we start? In our experience, our best clients understand their target customers and what is meaningful to them. The customer experience has to start there. It is easy to get carried away with measuring on-time delivery, customer complaints and other metrics but what does that really tell us? Do our customers simply want a reliable delivery estimate and someone to pay attention to ensure success or do they want a tailored, customized customer experience? Are we getting complaints from our unprofitable customers and silence from our best customers, and therefore focusing in on the”20″ of the 80/20 equation? It happens more frequently than you’d think!

Once you know what is meaningful to your key customers, define a way to measure your success in achieving your objective. Perhaps use the net promoter score as it is one simple question that speaks volumes: How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague? As you explore why, you’ll find ways to increase the value of your customer experience to your key customers. Certainly, customer service is a critical topic in creating a resilient supply chain. You’ll find more information on these types of topics on our resilient supply chain series.

 

 



How Are You Keeping Up?

July 9th, 2019

In today’s Amazon-impacted, data overloaded world, it is one BIG challenge to just “keep up”. How are you keeping up with the latest industry trends, noteworthy products, emerging technologies and more?

It would be easy to spend 40 hours a week just “keeping up”. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend that as your competition would be happy to speed on by. However, this idea got me thinking about how executives should “keep up”.

Time isn’t a resource. We cannot make more time. On the other hand, time is a matter of priority. When we answer, “I don’t have time for that,” it means we aren’t prioritizing that topic or that person. We cannot prioritize everyone and every topic including how to stay up-to-speed.       

A few recommendations for executives to stay up-to-date on relevant information without taking “too much” time:

  • Make it a priority for your team to stay up-to-date.  If each of your team members is up-to-date on relevant information for his/her area, it will be half the battle. Ask for a bullet point summary of highlights.
  • Talk with customers.  One priority you cannot delegate is a certain amount of customer interaction and discussion on trending topics. How else will you steer the ship?
  • Attend key industry conferences. Typically, there is a flagship industry event our clients attend. No matter how busy, make room in your schedule to attend, meet with customers and suppliers and find out what is trending.
  • Focus some attention on your strategic differentiation. For example, a few clients are expert at sourcing. Thus, they better put some focus on this topic. Others are expert at manufacturing, e-commerce or a technical topic. Stay abreast of key trends.
  • Skim industry articles & the Wall Street Journal. Staying current on key events and how they could impact your industry and your company is essential.