If you’re like most leaders, the busyness of your job can make days, weeks, and months pass in a blur. It’s essential that you occasionally pause and take stock of how things are going. New Year's is a great time for doing just that— celebrating your team’s accomplishments this past year and making any necessary course corrections to make the New Year even more successful.
If you're looking to take your team’s performance to the next level, consider these high-impact resolutions:
Small process problems can have an enormous impact on your team’s ability to carry out their mission in the most efficient, effective way. To optimize your team’s performance, it’s necessary that you get real about the things that are holding them back.
According to author and consultant Steve Spear, it’s relatively easy to identify processes ripe for improvement. He says, “Look for awkwardness on the part of those doing work and disappointment on the part of those who should be benefiting from that work.”
“Learning depends on first recognizing that problems exist—that there are fundamental shortcomings in how things are being approached. Then, these problems have to be solved—not in some slap-dash, make-do way, but in a bona fide knowledge-generating way that gives insights about how to proceed,” says Spear. “It’s about advancing from where we squander irrecoverable time and precious resources to where we put those to their best possible use.”
Many leaders hear from their teams that they are being held back by outdated technology and database software. If your team is still spending significant amounts of time on busy work like herding paperwork, updating spreadsheets, and creating time-consuming reports, it might be time for you to consider automating these processes.
To learn more about replacing your manual processes, download the Process Improvement Playbook.
There’s a saying that a parent will never be happier than their most unhappy child. In many ways, the same applies when it comes to a company’s relationships with its customers.
You can’t only focus on your happy, satisfied customers— you must take the time to understand the perspective of the unhappy, dissatisfied customers.
When you get a complaint, your goal can’t simply be to fix the problem and move on. The ultimate goal is to address the complaint in such a way that you not only retain the customer but create an enthusiastic advocate for your service or product.
Author Jay Baer’s research shows that nothing is more important to customers than having their complaints resolved quickly. In his book “Hug Your Haters” he shares, “Getting the issue solved in a single transaction is more important to a customer than accuracy or politeness.” He found that individuals who have their problems resolved in a single contact are twice as likely to remain customers and four times more likely to speak highly of your company.
To resolve complaints quickly, you need to make sure the person handling the problem has access to all potential information they’ll need. For many enterprise companies, this is a challenge because they may have separate teams and databases for various customer service channels, which results in fragmented, siloed data.
Baer says moving to cloud-based platforms that provide data integration could help your customer service team move between channels without hassle so that clients can resolve their problems effortlessly by their preferred channel.
Historically, IT focused largely on maintaining the database and keeping everyone’s computers up and running. Today, IT has to do all that, while also creating controls to guard against security threats and creating an endless array of customized apps for various departmental needs.
Most organizations only dedicate 1 to 4 percent of their budget to IT, yet somehow expect them to meet all the technological needs of every department. This invariably results in a common problem— a backlog of app requests. Today, most enterprise organizations have an immense IT backlog that burdens IT and inhibits the potential productivity of all of the departments who are awaiting mission-essential apps.
There is a solution that is a win-win for both business units and IT— citizen development. This involves allowing business units to use cloud-based rapid application development tools, like QuickBase, to create, test, adapt, and deploy customized apps with little or no coding. IT retains the ability to approve apps, create policies, and oversee governance.
The cost savings associated with citizen development are substantial. In a recent study of QuickBase, a leading citizen development tool, Forrester Consulting reports that organizations saved an average of eight weeks of development time per application. For the average organization, this resulted in a cost savings of $19,231 per new app. This cost-savings enabled composite organizations to build 55 new apps a year, resulting in a three-year, risk-adjusted total cost savings over earlier methods of $2,538,462. This led to an ROI of 260%.
To find out more about what citizen development could do for your company, check out Forrester’s full report.
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your team is to accept the reality of limitations. There are only so many hours in the day. So many of us are always trying to squeeze in “just one more” meeting, call, email, or project— and we fail to recognize the impact of our poor time management.
Start the New Year by refocusing your team on the mission and helping them prioritize their tasks in a way that aligns with that mission. As a leader, it’s important that you lead by example, by aligning your daily schedule with your priorities. Be intentional about reallocating your time, saying no to low-priority meetings, and delaying responding to some emails— and give your team members the freedom and encouragement to do the same.
Jonathan Feldman, a municipal CIO, recommends that leaders embrace the slogan “Do, Drop, Delegate.” He explains that this involves creating a forced ranking of your department’s priorities. If a task doesn’t align with those priorities, you need to delegate it or let it go. “In 25 years of experience, I’ve learned that if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority,” he says, adding, “What you focus on is what gets done.”