Posts Tagged ‘Ellen Bryson’

Preview: Is Financial Performance a Core Culture?

Thursday, October 13th, 2011 by Ellen Bryson

The following is an excerpt from an article by CEO Advantage advisor Ellen Bryson.  The full article is scheduled to appear in the upcoming 4th edition of The CEO Advantage Journal. 

While there is no “right” purpose, I suspect there is a wrong one: financial performance.  When growth becomes your purpose, trouble is not far away.  McDonald’s discovered this in the late 1990s when they shifted their focus from “QSCV” (quality, service, cleanliness, and value) to building more restaurants.  By early 2000, McDonald’s had more than 28,000 restaurants with annual revenues in excess of $15 billion.  Two years later, they experienced their first quarterly loss since 1954. 

Starbucks had a similar experience.  In Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul, Howard Schultz shares how Starbucks lost its focus.  In effect, growth became their purpose.  Schultz says that financial growth is not a strategy; it’s a tactic.  He admits that when Starbucks began pursuing undisciplined growth as a strategy, their culture crumbled and they lost their way.  Ironically, the financial performance they were pursuing eluded them when it became their chief focus. 

 …In their book The Discipline of Market Leaders, Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema talk about three distinct operational models: customer intimacy, innovation, and operational excellence.  In my experience as an advisor to CEOs and executive teams, I have seen each of these manifested as the driving force of culture.  I have never seen a thriving company with a culture centered on its own financial performance ahead of serving the customer.  Is financial performance important?  Of course!  But it is the result, not the cause, of serving customers well.


There Are No “Bad” Employees!

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 by Ellen Bryson

I recently received an article from Patrick Lencioni entitled “The Dilemma of the Difficult Employee.”  The article discusses how managers typically react to a difficult employee.  The most common way is to question whether or not to keep the person and tolerate their behavior or let them go.  Lencioni points out that the real question we need to ask ourselves is, “Have I done everything I can to help the difficult employee?”

This caused me to think about a statement I once heard: “there are no bad employees, only bad hiring decisions.”  This certainly puts the onus back on management. Ever wonder why someone you thought was going to be a superstar turned out to be  a mediocre performer? Is it possible that the problem is not the employee, but rather the hiring process and human systems utilized by the company? Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Does the employee share the company’s core values?
  • Does the employee possess the skills necessary to perform the job?
  • Did management provide adequate training?
  • Were expectations clearly communicated and understood by the employee?
  • Was the employee held accountable for achieving results?

These are just a few of the things to consider when evaluating an employee’s performance. It’s management’s responsibility to ensure that the right people are in the right jobs.  Have you done everything you should do to ensure your employees have an opportunity for success?


6 Tips for Selecting the Right People for a Team

Monday, January 31st, 2011 by Ellen Bryson

In recent years, companies have found it harder and harder to differentiate themselves from their competition and create a true competitive advantage.  Those that have pulled ahead have learned that putting the right people in the right jobs doing the right things creates an opportunity that would otherwise not exist.  Perhaps we would find an even greater advantage if we applied this same philosophy to creating teams within the organization.  Following are some tips for selecting the right people to work together on a particular issue:

  1. Identify a capable team leader whose ability to manage people is at least as strong his technical knowledge. 
  2. Grant full responsibility and authority to the team leader for making decisions and removing obstacles in order to achieve the goal within the specified timeframe.  Hold him accountable to this. 
  3. Ensure a good balance of communication and conflict styles among the team members.
  4. Select team members with the appropriate knowledge and expertise to address the problem.
  5. Choose individuals who are mature enough to lay aside personal desires in favor of what is best for the team. 
  6. If the team requires multiple levels of authority, demand that titles get checked at the door when addressing the issue at hand.  Everyone must be an equal participant in solving the problem.

For more detail, including some real-life examples of how this works, read “Winning Together” in the 2011 CEO Advantage Journal.