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Friday, November 09, 2007

The "Personnel Department"

Upkar Bikhu (left) and Bill Caswell of Caswell Corporate Coaching Company

The gap between business greatness and utter business failure, I'm discovering, is truly tiny -- and the challenge (and solution) to most business problems is in the personnel department.

Probably I should put "personnel department" in quotes, because I am not referring to the conventional human resources department functions, which are seen as supporting rather than core operations in most businesses. I'm referring, instead, to the complex interplays and accomplishments that occur when the right people work together in harmony to achieve impressive business results.

This is the concept my business consultants Bill Caswell and Upkar Bikhu of Caswell Corporate Coaching Company have been encouraging me to consider over the past couple of years. They believe that business success and failure rests with the people in the organization and even take things further to suggest that you can achieve most of the harmony and objectives by structuring the right kind of business meetings at the right time.

Now this may all seem far fetched and off topic for a Construction Marketing Ideas blog, but I wish you could see some of the internal stuff happening within my own business that proves the point. (I can't share all the details here because, after all, ongoing business operations need to be conducted with some degree of confidentiality!)

However, in my hands I have a list of action items developed yesterday afternoon during a 40 minute meeting conducted by teleconference between the time I left a scheduled meeting with the consultants, and picking up my son at school. We moved along, covered lots of current stuff, and certainly didn't waste any time -- while respecting each other and sharing insights and ideas none of us would have achieved on our own.

The interesting thing is that our products and services are really unchanged from before the debacle reported earlier in this blog; we've adapted to new technologies, and of course are improving our methodologies, but essentially what we sell is the same product/service of a decade ago. And while external market conditions have changed, I can't see any explanation about why we failed, and are now succeeding, other than our "personnel department" business practices.

1. We have developed strong, practical and effective recruitment systems to ensure we hire only employees who can do the work, well. (Here, our success is so apparent that our consultants are now contracting and paying us to provide them with guidance, especially in hiring salespeople.)

2. We have learned how to structure day-to-day business operations to facilitate communication, mutual respect, and productivity, while bringing employees into the planning and decision-making process in a systematic and effective manner.

3. Now we are building the feedback/evaluation loop so that we can sustain this system.

OK, you say, how can this help us find and retain new customers, develop our brand, and sell our services?The answer is simple -- if everyone working in your organization is truly excellent at their work (and enjoy their responsibilities), do you think you will have much trouble convincing a potential client to use your services? First, your competent staff will only pursue prospective clients who really can benefit from the service. Second, the clients will find the experience uplifting and enjoyable -- they will feel they have received value from your team. And finally, you won't have the "me or you" or "us and them" attitude prevailing in your business -- your team will work cohesively and with mutual respect.

Take a step back from marketing, and think "personnel department". You might find your answers are in the place you least expect.

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