Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

The Challenges We Face

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It is not only important for managers to recognize the challenges that they will face, but also to understand how to meet and overcome such trials. Preparation provides them with a starting point and the impetus to change.

As the complexity and depth of challenges increase, managers cannot afford to ignore the issues that currently confront them. Doing so will create a domino effect of problems that will continue to plague them until dealt with. More importantly, managers will learn that the obstacles, barriers and challenges to their business will continue at an alarming rate, fueled by technological advancements and changes in the global economy.

Cognizant of the above circumstances, managers can devote more time to meeting the strategic challenges that continue to confront their business. At the same time, more of the tactical issues must be pushed to the frontline employee. The strategic nature of many challenges precludes most managers from micromanaging the activities of their people and forces them to deal with the macro-issues of management.

Related: Adapt or be Bypassed

Several critical management challenges identified are listed below, along with specific strategies managers can employ to meet these challenges.

Reinforcing Employee Support Systems

The rapid flow of information between managers and their employees is the biggest challenge to be faced. It is recommended that managers conduct a complete reassessment of their employee support system. The best approach is to flowchart the entire system so as to completely understand its methodology and complexity. Over time, support systems tend to become increasingly complex and redundant as new elements are put into place, which overburdens the process.

Managers should consider a complete redesign of their support systems; this can start with a fresh set of goals and objectives to use as a foundation. With these goals and objectives in mind, managers should analyze the type and form of information that both they and their employees require, and the best means of obtaining and delivering that information. The key is to remember that most managers and employees are awash in information, but starving for knowledge. Managers should look for the best methods possible to deliver knowledge over information, providing support data and information if it needs to be referenced. Some vital areas to examine are:

  • The effective use of performance metrics to evaluate work.
  • The conversion of reports into action plans.
  • The minimization of data flow to eliminate information overload.

Realigning Internal Processes

Managers must conduct a comprehensive analysis of the buying habits and patterns of their customer base. As buyers become more sophisticated and are forced to face the realities of increased global competition and a depressed economy, their behaviors change. Managers must examine and monitor these changes, and analyze future trends: when compared to their existing processes, most will find profound shifts. The impact of the Internet on information gathering must be addressed along with the overall increase in risk factors that change the way companies handle their purchasing. The key is to realign the internal processes using all of the available tools and technologies to closely match customers’ buying behavior and to maximize the use of their people’s time and resources.

The business landscape is evolving and changing. It is important to monitor these changes and continually adapt and modify the operating processes accordingly.

Related: Power Must Be Shared for Organizations to Grow

Strengthening Employees’ Understanding of Customer Profit Economics

There is no doubt that many changes in the economy and marketplace have precipitated a shift in customer economics. If anything, many companies have been induced to reevaluate the manner in which they conduct business. Companies are purchasing more carefully and examining the return on investment a specific product or service delivers to them. Consequently, unless employees understand the economics of their business and how their product or service fits into that picture, they will be quickly discounted.

Managers should require their people to conduct a review of their companies’ major accounts in order to understand the specific application of their product or service, recognize the importance of that product or service to the customer, and glean how the product directly contributes to the customer’s profitability. Only when employees know how their product contributes to customer success can they successfully position themselves to contribute to the bottom line.

Reconstructing and Realigning Reward Programs

As companies realign their internal processes and require more servicing of accounts, managers must adjust their compensation plans to reflect these changes. Compensation plans should be designed so that employees perform desired activities and functions, which can include business development and service. Research shows that employees will gravitate to where they are making the most money. If they are paid on commission it is unlikely service will be important to them.

Managers should identify and prioritize desired behaviors. Based upon what they come up with they will have a platform for creating a compensation program that meets their goals.

Related: Dealing With the Challenges of Change

Flattening Decision Making

Managers are challenged to move the decisions typically made by managers directly to their frontline people. Employees are thus given the latitude to make quick and timely operational decisions that can positively impact the speed and quality of results.

Strengthening Employees’ Understanding of Their Companies’ Profit Economics

Employees should be educated in the profit margins of the products/services their company sells. They need to understand the impact an order has on their business as well as the financial ramifications of customer concessions. Once furnished with this information, their performance should be evaluated not only on their specific work-related activities, but also on the profitability of the portion of business for which they are responsible.

Excerpt: Overcoming Management Challenges: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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2 Responses

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  1. Usually we try to ignore overwhelming complexity by the attempt of pressing it in the old mechanistic (thinking) system so we have the (wrong) feeling of control and hope of understanding what is going on and the subjacent mechanism. For us this “understanding” is often the basic step of thinking about a solution.
    The challenge we have to face is first an inner challenge. How could we act without try to understanding (we have to give up this idea, it never happened!) the mechanism by just intervening and learning from the “answer” of the system. The second challenge is to break the system of report and control, which is also a system to keep leaders thinking that they have the power to control what others think and do. But it never was. So big challenges to overcome…

    Rainer Peraus

    October 10, 2012 at 11:10 am


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