Our organization has embarked on an employee engagement path that has literally caught fire throughout the company. Several Cambridge Engineering, Inc. production managers embraced the LEAN philosophy espoused by Paul Akers in his book, 2 Second Lean: How to grow people and build a lean culture. Our production team’s focus from the beginning has been on training people how to think differently. Many sophisticated books have been written on the LEAN topic. Paul’s book is not one of them. Paul details a path towards employee engagement that everyone can understand. As leader of the sales team, I have watched the trans-formative power of a LEAN mindset with our Ops team and have been inspired to apply this thinking to my life.
While our operations team has a head start in embracing these teachings and this thinking, there is a powerful message at the very beginning of the book that applies to all leaders that are considering the necessary strategies and tactics to grow their business, grow their market share, increase pipelines, improve closing ratios or improve processes and flow in their organizations. Growing our businesses success starts with growing people. Growing our business success starts with you and I growing.
1.) Humble Myself – Despite what we might think sometimes, we don’t know everything. There are literally thousands of people that are smarter, faster, stronger, more creative and more eloquent than we are. Don’t let my success lull me to sleep. Know that everything can be improved upon, each and every day. The first step towards growing is accepting the reality that things can be better, that you directly influence growth and that in order to grow, we must change how we think and how we act. We must humble ourselves in order to grow.
2.) Focus on Me First – if 90% of what we do every day is waste, then start to break down our own daily, weekly, monthly activities and work on those things that will help us to be more efficient, productive and positive. Kill the time wasters, use the time wasted on impact activities. Living a LEAN philosophy personally is the greatest outward example to demonstrate our commitment to it.
3.) Focus on Momentum and Activity – Quality activity drives quality results. As we reported during our AHRI year-end breakfast meeting with our Representative partners in Orlando this month, there is a direct correlation between quoting activity levels and 2015 sales performance levels. Our top quartile performers quoted our equipment 2x as often as the 2nd quartile performers and delivered four times as much revenue to their organizations. Proactive selling and proactive education activities put our sales force in more of the the project conversations.
4.) Tap into the Resources that are available to you. Are you plugged in? Are you deeply engaged with those people that could most influence your positive outcome. Are you meeting more inside your office, or outside of your office? Cancel your inside meetings and double your outside meetings and watch what happens with your network of connections, customers and influencers. Our Regional Managers travel into our Representative markets and we expect them to deliver value to our sales partners through proactive selling, educating and modeling. Our technical sales advisors and engineering applications support teams get granular with our Representative partners to create customer solutions. We welcome our partners to tap into our human genius to help them grow their business.
5.) Find a peer group that will share best practices and challenge you to be your best. This is a repeat of number 1. An admission that improvement is possible requires one to be humble. Others may have insights that could assist you on your growth path. Give and receive experiential input for improvement opportunities in your business. If you cannot find a peer group, start one. Find those successful business leaders that you respect and trust and extend a hand to get your group started. At Cambridge Engineering, Inc. we count on our Representative Advisory Board to provide candid feedback on industry, organizational and tactical direction. This eleven member board is comprised of bright people that we learn from at every engagement.
What worked for us as leaders in the past, may not necessarily work for us in the future. Many things change in our industry every day. Join me and take that first step of admission that it is possible to improve what we are doing as individuals. This step will free our minds to look for great improvements that are right in front of our eyes every day. Our modeling of this continuous improvement commitment mindset will motivate additional believers. The first step in humility is best step we can take to grow ourselves, our people and our businesses.