Over the past years we have worked with a number of different leaders and managers within the wholesaling industry and in other industry sectors, all committed to doing the best for their businesses and employees. It has really been fascinating to observe that everybody works, leads and manages in different ways and learning the variety of approaches that individuals and teams adopt has been an eye opener. Every year we compile a blueprint for making a success, whatever the economic climate, of our business from the learning that we have picked up in the years preceding.
Here is our list for 2012 that we will be applying to our work. Some are old favourite ways to operate and behave of course, but the list is built from the observations we have made of successful commercial ventures in 2011 and preceding years.
l Purpose: everybody in the business knows what they are there to do. They pull in the same direction, all the time. We have watched this be a real heartbeat in consistently successful businesses.
l Customer focus: it is always about the customer. The whole organisation understands how easy it is to lose customers and works accordingly. Every piece of customer feedback is taken seriously and acted on.
l Communication: the best led businesses seem to have clear and regular paths for communications of all types. There are organised internal question and answer sessions, and/or regular employee feedback methods so that everyone has a voice.
l Measurement: rigorous measuring and reporting of progress. Clear priorities that are consistently monitored and reviewed.
l Ambition: a positive approach to moving forward, a real pragmatic approach to grow. This ambition is supported by good plans and people, resourced fully and always aiming higher than the current marketplace conditions suggest is possible. Never out of reach more just out of grasp.
l Competition: a healthy respect for others in the same market situation. A supporting system of market intelligence with clear reporting responsibilities to advise the business of competitive threats.
l Process: things work and ‘hang together’, and when things don’t work they get fixed swiftly. All processes are actually light touch rather than banks of forms and checklists just enough so that team members understand their boundaries and always detailed where the use of money is concerned.
l Transparency: successful organisations currently seem to be finding better ways to decide and demonstrate value centred ways of working. Often clear statements regarding ‘integrity’ ‘honesty’ and ‘openness’ play a big part and are visible in the business. Customer charters are present.
l No complacency: a desire to improve that takes your breath away. Recognition that success is hard won but a passion to get better, be the best and lead the industry sector is almost something that can actually be felt. Every time we have witnessed this it has been role modelled from the top of the organisation.
l Something outside work: teams find some type of social cohesion that allows them to enjoy each others company. It’s not just about drinks after work more a willingness to be together as a group because common interests are present. Recruitment plays a huge role here. Sometimes a focus on selected charity work, or helping others has been a driver for this, a magnet to cluster around.
In our business learning from others has become the way we work. It is, of course, a rapid and cost effective way to create new behaviours that contribute to success.
Across the spectrum of operating specialities and procedures that exist in the wholesaling industry there is ample space for this ‘top ten’. It would be a surprise if you don’t recognise a significant amount of them already present in your business.
Perhaps just the odd one could be added in or may be worthy of more focus? As always, there doesn’t have to be a revolution (unless of course you see a need for one) just a practical application of a new way of working to tilt the scale in your favour.