To set out on a sound footing this year, there are three cornerstones for businesses to focus on and they all have one thing in common: be different!
1. Be different from your competitors – know your strengths and how they add value
It is the old adage, but in a world that is getting noisier and faster, with more DIY organisations than ever aiming to do it cheaper, quicker and smarter, you need to be clear how your organisation makes a difference in the world.
- How are you different?
- Do you offer the greatest levels of customer service in your sector?
- Are your products cheaper or more innovative?
- How do you know these features are providing real benefit to your customers or service users? Are you asking them? Are you asking them often enough?
The first step is making sure that what you provide delivers value and benefit to your market. That is – know your strengths, know what your customers think of you, and never tire of delivering value to them.
Successful companies do this by staying humble, and open-minded, and never assuming that they know best. When they lose this perspective, their fall from grace often follows.
2. Be different from other hiring organisations – communicate and reinforce your brand
Workers today want to understand the ‘meaning’ of their work and of the organisations they work for. Once you have implemented the first step, you can start attracting people to work with who relate with and respect what you are trying to achieve. As a result, you increase the chances of obtaining a talented team committed to your future success and to growing your business because they ‘get it’.
To achieve this, you must be clear on your values and points of difference in the market – you want to attract people who like what you are doing and feel in tune with it. Communicate what you are about internally within the business and externally into the employment market, to create a steady flow of like-minded potential employees.
Ensure internal alignment with your values is reinforced at point of recruitment and promotion. So if, for example, customer service is a point of difference for you, you should be hiring and promoting people who eat, sleep and breathe customer service, people who have the right skills and the energy, people who love it. It is also important not to hire just for skills, hire for strengths too!
3. Be different from other employers – create a positive and productive workplace
How do the most successful businesses continue to grow and thrive? They create positive, productive workplaces where employees feel valued, challenged, and listened to. These businesses make employees feel trusted and free to do their jobs to the best of their ability, and feel as if they are genuinely making a difference.
Start by helping your employees find their unique strengths and talents and get these delivering value for the business and for customers. It is easy to say but challenging in practice as most businesses focus on driving out people’s weaknesses and mistakes rather than pinpointing strengths and giving them the chance to flourish.
Research tells us that a focus first on strengths can increase staff engagement and contribution by as much as 73 per cent (Rath and Conchie, 2008).
Lastly, lock in the magic by making sure your people processes (performance management, hiring, promotion, reward, training) are all aligned with your company’s values and proposition. That way, nothing is left to chance as the business grows, enabling you to hold onto your unique points of difference.
How do you secure success and strong growth in 2015? Keep it simple, know who you are and what you do, attract and keep people who get it and love it. In other words, put your strengths front and centre and use them to be different and make a difference.
Paul Brewerton is joint managing director at Strengths Partnership.
Share this story