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Opinion: 15 management practices for brighter futures

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The ability to manage make-or-break challenges and still forge a successful path forward requires management that can allocate time, human effort and financial resources profitably.

This management activity is not easy to do, especially when we add a pandemic, growing uncertainty about the future and social unrest.

Some organizations come through crises better than others. They compete successfully, and they create places where people want to work. I recently reviewed my client files and analyzed what made some of America’s most successful and respected brands so effective at navigating continuous, and at times, tumultuous change.

I chose five highly successful companies that I learned three personal lessons from each during extensive engagements. They are Bass Pro Shops, Chick-fil-A, Dow Corning, Dunkin’ Donuts and Herschend Family Entertainment.

1. Direct significant effort to operational excellence. Operations are critical to an organization’s future. Concentrate the most energy on issues that vary from your performance standards and raise standards where it’s lacking.

2. Don’t focus on being first with new development. In a fast-changing environment, observe other organizations’ new developments first, then create an appropriate strategy. Big brands don’t always lead first.

3. Take nothing about your brand for granted. To protect your brand image fully, have more checks and balances, not less. Obsessing about seemingly minor operational aspects can be wise.

4. Make business about more than dollars and cents. One founder once told me that business thrives according to both its financials and the care, empathy and respect leaders show people.

5. Balance results and relationships. Creating positive relations is crucial, but so is making a profit. Gaining the highest returns on people’s efforts will not occur unless relationships and results are balanced wisely.

6. Reproduce culture. Convincing employees to fulfill the culture is challenging when you operate multiple locations, but the benefits are significant. To reproduce your culture throughout all levels or locations, make sure values are clear, consistent and tirelessly reinforced.

7. Create a vision that inspires others. One CEO is gifted at creating an inspiring vision, while another CEO struggles with it. A company’s vision should capture customer interests and energize employees to give their best.

8. Manage customer friction. Identify friction at every step in the customer’s experience. Aggressively eliminate friction to increase customer perceived value.

9. Invest in creating customer awe. To deliver awe requires innovation and the commitment to provide remarkable experiences consistently. Customer loyalty today is brittle, and people switch companies too easily. Strong brands not only believe it’s possible to amaze customers, but they invest in achieving it.

10. Build high-performance teams into the organization’s DNA. High-performance teams produce outstanding results. Invest in the team’s effectiveness with learning and development in areas such as communications and conflict management.

11. Welcome differing employee perspectives. Create a feedback-rich culture, one that authentically desires and then acts on viable employee ideas.

12. Emphasize organizational values. In my experience with coaching managers, most overestimate the effectiveness of infrequent communications. The best managers, however, make a persistent effort to reinforce values throughout the year.

13. Fix team dysfunctions. When your team is dysfunctional, intervene with understanding. Don’t assume employees are at fault; look at the processes or limitations they operate within first, then look at behaviors that need correction.

14. Leverage the strength of your organization’s purpose. One client requires all employees, including part-timers, to memorize the company’s purpose statement. By leveraging the company’s mission this way, management helps sustain the culture, influences the right employee behaviors and creates better customer experiences.

15. Invest in management. Gauge the strengths and vulnerabilities of managers with employee feedback tools that allow for confidentiality. If it’s not confidential, you won’t get honest input that can help managers strengthen essential supervisory skills.

Managers today can use simple best practices to fit the organization and its people for the future.

Consultant, professional speaker and author Mark Holmes is president of Consultant Board Inc.and MarkHolmesGroup.com. He can be reached at 
mark@markholmesgroup.com.

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