As my career developed, my management tools matured naturally. They are a product of my varied experiences, living and working in places from New York, Beijing, Tokyo, Budapest and Silicon Valley. I can boil them down to three key areas; Customer, Closure & Communication.
Customers provide our companies and our employees our prosperity and it is our employees, and only our employees, that can make success happen. Focusing on both every day is a must.
Customers – I started my career on the front lines in sales. With technology changing so fast, I was faced with the fog of battle every day. More than anything, it taught me that you don’t have to know everything, but you do have to be a great inquisitive listener. The best strategies built in your internal conference room will never compare to listening to a prospect or customer. Follow their anthropology – what they do every day. This will tell you what to do. Catch the big trends because that is where budgets shift to. If you are not talking to four to five customers a week, you are missing the most important ingredient for an effective strategy. My six years in Japan gave me even more clarity. In Japan the customer is not king, the customer is a god! Today, my Fridays are consumed with as many as five customer calls and each one is a beacon that guides me.
Closure – OK, now what? Customers told you what to do, but can you turn ideas into action? How do drive your team to meet customer expectations? Of course, start with OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), but along the way, every meeting and conversation should be boiled down to “the what, by who and by when”. Never accept the phrase: “we will do it”. “We” means nobody will do it. In my former company, a large Japanese auto company used to give us $900K a year and hated us. Three years later, they were giving us $4M a year and loved us – meeting customer expectations equals prosperity.
Communication - Human nature dictates that employees need dramatically more information than what is actually required to do their jobs. Leaders often spend 98% of their time doing, and 2% communicating. No good. The first thing to communicate is vision and belief in a bright future. Further, communicating that each individual’s personal/family prosperity is important is something you can never do enough of. How can I make people’s jobs more rewarding both emotionally and financially? What concrete steps can I take, year in and year out? To me, when making changes to the workforce to be able to seize on new opportunities, I never think about the people that can no longer get you there, I think about the families of the people who will.