Do You Know Where Your Company is Headed?
If you are like most of my clients, you’re business is probably growing and you’re looking to add recruiters and sales professionals to your staff. I myself have been busy interviewing sales professionals on behalf of several clients. One of the first questions that I ask a candidate in an interview is “why are you looking to leave your current employer?” The number one response, by far, has been “I’m not really sure of the direction of my company.” When hearing this response the first few times, I didn’t give it a ton of tought….at least at the “macro-level” But then I kept hearing this response from multiple candidates and in different parts of the country. Then, just earlier this week it hit me like a ton of bricks. A client shared with me that the sales candidate she’s interviewing told her he is looking to make a move because the direction of his company is unclear. Coincidence? I think not.
Why is this so concerning? Think about it. When an employee shares with you they are leaving a company because they don’t understand the direction of the company, what they’re also saying or revealing is:
- Communication from senior leadership is unclear and/or conflicting
- There is not a clear strategy in place (or it has not been clearly communicated)
- Expectations are not clear
- There is a gap in communication between middle management and senior leadership
- Employees don’t understand the company goals and why they’re important
- Core values have not clearly understood by employees
- Employees don’t have confidence in the current business plan/strategy/my current manager/team members
- Employees don’t see a career path for themselves and how they fit into the “big picture”
- Employees are unclear on the long term plans
- There is no/poor alignment between goals, compensation plans, performance expectations, management style or philosophy and core values
- Employees feel they don’t have the tools or resources to be successful
- Employees feel it’s not clear what they need to do to be successful
As a leader or business owner it's real easy to get caught up in the day to day operations of your business. It can become difficult to see the forest through the trees. As such, you can easily loose touch of what direction you're headed in. It sort of reminds me of that hilarious scene from Planes, Trains & Automobiles where Del (John Candy) and Neil (Steve Martin) think they know where they are headed and ignore all the signs telling them they are in fact going the wrong way. So why is this so important?
This is actually concerning for a few reasons. First, you may be experiencing turnover with your existing staff for the reasons mentioned above, all of which senior management has complete control over. Thus, these mistakes can be avoided. But this is also concerning because “lack of company direction” seems to be more of an epidemic than a “one-off” issue based on how often my clients (and I) have heard this. And this leads me to my third point of why this is so concerning.
Ask yourself this. Can you, with a clear conscious, articulate the goals, values and overall strategic direction of your company to a potential recruit? Second, and most importantly, will the recruit see and “feel” what you articulated to them once they join your organization or will they feel that you simply gave them a “sales pitch” to join your organization? In other words, can you “walk the walk?” If so, good for you!! However, if the answer is no or you're unsure, how can you expect to recruit new talent into your organization? How can you expect to attract and retain top talent?
The first question to figure out is, is there a strategic plan in place? If the answer is yes, then the problem can be isolated to poor communication of the plan to the rest of the organization. Senior leadership needs to work on how to effectively communicate that plan to the team. Hint: your strategic plan needs to be communicated to your team over and over and over again repeatedly.
If on the other hand there is no clearly defined strategic plan in place or you have “lost your way,” here a few good questions to ask yourself to get things back on track.
- What are our core values? Having a few “rules” to live by and consistently behaving within those rules goes a long way in developing your company culture. This is akin to teaching your two-year-old child the difference between right and wrong. What behavior shall be rewarded and what behaviors shall be reprimanded. You must decide and stick to it.
- Why are we in business? And is this in alignment with our core values?
- What do we want to achieve and why? And is this in alignment with our core values?
- Who are the clients that we most want to work with?
- What business or clients do we NOT want and shall avoid?
The market has clearly picked up and people are looking to make a move. Perhaps it’s time to check in with your employees and make sure they understand the direction of your organization. And maybe it’s even time to review your core values and make sure you can clearly articulate to recruits the direction of your organization. And do it in good faith.
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.