Together with many consultants and authors, I have long argued that if you first energise and excite people, they will serve your clients well, and (then) make lots of money. But is there any actual proof that this is the right sequence?
There is some. ‘The Service Profit Chain’ by Hesker, Sasser and Schlesinger argues the case for this model convincingly. In ‘First, Break All the Rules’, Buskingham and Coffman reported on behaviours of successful managers in a way that supports this core proposition.
Surveying 139 offices of 29 firms in 15 countries in 15 different lines of business, I asked a simple question: are employee attitudes correlated with financial success?
The answer is an unequivocal ‘yes!’ The most financially successful businesses do better than the rest on virtually every aspect of employee attitudes, and those that do best on employee attitudes are measurably more profitable.
Even more powerful, as the book shows, are attitudes that drive financial results, and not (predominately) the other way round.
None of this should be taken to mean that client service, client relations and quality are not crucial. As well we shall see, they are. Conventional wisdom is right in saying that quality and great client service gets results.
However, what conventional wisdom forgets is that great client service is itself a product of other things. To get great client service, you may be the prime mover of this entire chain of effects: the skills and behaviour of the manager in creating and driving everything else.
Of all the goals businesses say they have (make money, please clients, attract and develop talented staff), the least well done are those related to managing people. Yet not only are people a key link in the chain of activities that create profits, but we are also living through a war for talent – a people crisis – where every business is short of people. To be weak in this area is akin to shooting yourself in the foot. The most financially successful operations share a number of characteristics:
– Management is seen as operating in accordance with the company’s overall philosophy and values. They practice what they preach
– Management is trusted. Individual managers act in the interests of their group, not just to advance the manager’s personal interests
– People’s personal potential is being fulfilled and realised, according to the people being managed
– There is a high degree of loyalty and commitment, driven by managers
– Compensation systems are equitably managed
– Firms do not compromise standards in hiring simply to meet a capacity need. People quality is seen as high.
Evidence shows these are high standards that a few managers (or management teams) reach consistently. They are not easy to achieve. They require courage, an ability to confront difficult situations, and an ability to take a long-term perspective when many pressures cry out for much earlier gratification.
The standards are not commonly achieved, but when they are, we can show that they cause a demonstrable, measurable improvement in financial performance (including growth rates as well as profits).
The standards are tough. They do not say, gently, ‘we encourage teamwork.’ They say things like ‘we have no room’ for individualists. The message is management must have the guts and courage to enforce the standards they frequently preach.
The list of key profit drivers revealed here represents a balanced package.
There is no secret to success. You have to do well on a combination of client relationships, compensation system fairness, skill building, and other factors.
Among the top factors predicting profitability are the issues of trust and respect. These were not introduced by my personal theories. They were the result of cold statistical analysis. This study shows that where trust and respect between management and employees are high, financial performance goes up.
Surprising? Maybe. But we are rarely (if ever) taught how to win, earn, or give trust and respect in our formal education. This book will show you how. It reaffirms the importance of personal character in leading a firm to greatness.
On a related point, the book shows success in management is less a property of firms (the systems of the business as whole) but instead is mostly about the personality of the individual manager within the operating unit.
Success is about personalities, not policies.
In spite of presenting extensive data and statistical analysis, the core of this book is not the numbers. It is the anecdotes, stories and personal experiences of managers who get the best results. I report on the paragons able to achieve truly stellar financial results, while also energising, enthusing and exciting their staff.
What, precisely, do they do? These superstar managers gave permission to reveal their concrete secrets. The findings will challenge you. How well, it will ask, do you pass the tests of trust, respect and integrity?
Are you seen as practising what you preach? If you can’t pass these tests, you will make less money!
To order your copy of Practice What You Preach (for #17.99 free p&p) please contact:
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