That's right. Improving is not like making a resolution you will change, it's about having the right mindset. One that says, "I will never settle for how well I'm currently doing, and will continuously strive to find better ways to do everything." At our company, Blinds.com, we establish our business and personal goals at the beginning of each year, but ask everyone to tell us at any time when those goals should change. We also ask that when better ideas arise, they should be brought up immediately.
Every day, I expect my staff to consciously improve their skill sets. In our call center, for example, maybe it means paying attention to your words, inflection, pace, and tone of voice, all of which determine how our customers respond to us, our product suggestions and our solutions to their problems. Each person is coached so they can be aware of what they specifically need to work on to improve that day. Then there's the next day, and the next.
And just because some of your people are especially skilled doesn't mean you shouldn't continue working with them, because usually a 10% improvement from your most productive people is a lot better than a 40% improvement from your lowest. Don't neglect your top producers.
The other day I heard the term restless dissatisfaction used to describe how people in another local company think about their business' state of being. I like the concept of never being satisfied, but I think restless dissatisfaction is too negative. One shouldn't think about what one should NOT do, but what one SHOULD do.
Here are a few tips to ensure your business improves continuously:
1. State clearly to your senior leadership team that it's OK to debate anything. Then make sure they do the same with their own direct reports.
2. Make continuous improvement a continuous expectation.
3. When someone offers a suggestion, make sure they get public recognition.
4. If something doesn't work, chalk it up to experience and try something else. Never penalize people for trying something new.
5. Do something with an idea as soon as practicable. If you can't, be sure to tell the recommender when you think the idea will be addressed. By all means, give some timetable and rationale for putting it aside for now.
We all know it is essential that you and your people adapt and improve. But if you think you'll change just because you make a resolution to do so, you better think again. You agree?
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