February 3: Leaders keep talking about the VUCA world (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity). However, the recipe for future readiness for a business could revolve around an entrepreneur’s unique requirements, views, and ambitions. Let’s consider SMEs (Small and medium enterprises) as an example. The mindset and mobilization of resources required to get future-ready mainly depend on the owner’s perception of the changes. Many progressive owners of SMEs believe that future readiness needs to happen on multiple fronts and is usually a multiprong approach. The purpose of this write-up is to share perspectives and provoke ideas to build readiness.
There are three crucial aspects towards building future-ready organizations –
- Building a sense of purpose: It is essential to communicate the definition of an enterprise, “this is what we stand for”. But, more importantly, an employee needs to feel a personal connection with the organization’s purpose. For employees, this helps them to decide, “Why should I work for this company?”
- Building a Value plan: The key objective here is to articulate and highlight “How” are we different from the rest in every aspect of our offering. The key is to use the value plan to focus the organization’s efforts and instil a sense of what matters in every employee and stakeholder. For example, having a strong sense of customer obsession can energize people to create positive and compelling customer experiences. With this plan, people are clear about their criticality in the mission.
- Utilize culture as your ‘Secret Sauce’: Culture can’t be a mere slogan, rhetoric, and a statement. It needs to get percolated to the whole fabric of the organization. Culture needs to be seen and felt by one and all. Besides having a clear “why” (purpose) and “what” (a value plan), companies that thrive in the next generation will distinguish themselves by their cultures—the “how” of any organization. Culture is that unique set of behaviours, rituals, symbols, and experiences that collectively describes “how we run things.”. Broad themes won’t cut it. Instead, behaviours must be made an integral part of core business activities and specific work tasks, especially for the moments that matter.
All the above need to get translated into a multiprong approach across the organization. The four pillars of future readiness can be broadly categorized as:
- Sales Readiness
- Customer Service Readiness
- Infrastructural Readiness
- Leadership Readiness
Pillar 1 – Sales Readiness:
Every aspect of sales team productivity, monitoring and measurement mechanisms, ways of reaching out to the prospects, managing the funnel of opportunities is undergoing a significant change. The digital world has opened a wealth of opportunities for salespeople. The entire customer acquisition process can be much more innovative and easier for the salespeople who are willing to use technology. Gathering information about prospects, getting intelligence about the stakeholders, using analytical tools, and utilizing CRMs build their effectiveness. Information is abundant for people who have a hunger to develop their knowledge. Virtual meetings pave the way for higher sales productivity; we just need to accept it more openly.
- Are the Salespeople leveraging on the advantages of the digital world for Customer acquisition?
- Are the levels of preparation improving steadily?
- Is the sales team’s productivity improving by leveraging opportunities coming from WFH mode?
- Is there better alertness and vigilance about business opportunities?
- Is there a willingness to embrace newer customer acquisition methods?
The salespeople need to do their self-assessment of the readiness to achieve better levels of sales performance.
Pillar 2 – Customer Service Readiness:
While technology is driving convenience for the customers, what is also gaining importance, is the “Human touch” to the services. The customers sincerely appreciate the timeless human attributes such as commitment, sincerity, and empathy.
- What can customer service (CS) teams do better to connect with their customers?
- Is the customer service working with the desired speed?
- Is there a clear understanding of the customer service process that creates a better customer experience?
- Do we measure what matters?
- How are the Customer service teams performing in WFH environments?
The customer service teams need to self-assess the readiness to achieve better performance.
Pillar 3 – Infrastructural readiness (Human Capital and Production)
Growing organizations need to build readiness to achieve scale. While there are pressures to meet current working capital requirements, planning for future requirements can be crucial for growth. Forces tied to successfully surviving the disruptions brought about by the pandemic have amplified existing challenges for many SMEs. Most common amongst these included concerns such as-
- Talent acquisition and retention – Good talent may move out if they find their employees are not in a position to meet their growth aspirations.
- Investments for building technological readiness
- Investments for building production capacities for future
- Meeting cash flow requirements in the disruptive times
- Do we have the readiness to meet the financial needs to grow our business?
- Do we invest our resources in the objectives that can enhance our business?
- Do we have incentives for high performers?
- Do we cut down expenses that are not essential?
- Are we leveraging the technologies that cut down the costs?
The top teams need to self-assess the infrastructural readiness to achieve better performance.
Pillar 4 – Leadership readiness
The willingness of the leadership team to bring the desired transformation to an organization is of paramount importance without a deep commitment to readiness from the leadership to design, develop and implement the mechanisms for future readiness, all the efforts to build enthusiasm down the line could be highly ineffective. Therefore, there are three things that leaders must constantly do:
- Listen and Learn- Future readiness requires constant learning to help the employee experience evolve. Leaders should no longer use surveys to get an annual or bi-annual metric around engagement levels. It should happen in every review (weekly/ monthly/ quarterly)
- Stay Agile – Organizations need to respond to changes in their environment, both internally and externally, to be future-ready
- Innovate – Use your employee feedback to help you design future strategies
- Do we conduct regular reviews?
- Do we listen to our employees during our reviews?
- Do we implement some good suggestions shared by employees?
- Do we have motivating incentives for high performers?
- Are we building a leadership pipeline steadily?
As Ken Blanchard says, “The greatest leaders mobilize others by coalescing people around a shared vision”.
In my view, the critical requirement for business leaders is to ensure that there is enough appetite for learning from disruptive changes, build grace to accept changes and remain agile.
About the author :
Dinkar Rao is an internationally acclaimed business coach.
He is the Founder of Groval Euler’s (www.grovaleulers.com),
Groval Selelctia (www.grovalselectia.com) and
Kabir Learning Foundation (www.kabirlearning.in).