Find A Dozen Ways To Ask: How Can We Do This Better

Being an entrepreneur is both a dream and a nightmare at the same time. There is no time table to the amount of work necessary to succeed, and you have to work 100 hours a day doing absolutely everything.

At a certain point you need to be able to reflect and ask yourself: "Is this really working?" With so many variables, how should you know if you are making the right progress.

If there was one person who you could count on to give you the absolute best advice, it's got to be the great Jack Welch. With over 20 years experience as CEO of GE, and now the executive chairman of the The Jack Welch Management Institute, Jack is known for his unmatched track record of success, enormous love of people, and fierce passion for winning. And that's just what I did. In this issue of the Small Business Journal, I had the privilege to ask Jack to put down into words, the most important points to look for to gauge the success of your company.

Here's what he told me: "If I had to list the key indicators that really work, these are my top three".
Employee engagement.

It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it. That’s why you need to take the measure of employee engagement at least once a year through anonymous surveys in which people feel completely safe to speak their minds.

The most meaningful surveys probe how employees feel about the strategic direction of the company and the quality of their career opportunities. They ask questions such as these: Do you believe the company has goals that people fully grasp, accept, and support? Do you feel the company cares about you and that you have been given the opportunity to grow? Do you think that your everyday work is connected to what company leaders say in speeches and in the annual report? The best employee surveys are getting at one question: Are we all on the same team here?
Customer Satisfaction

Growth is the key to long-term viability, which is why customer satisfaction is the second vital sign for general managers. Again, this measurement can be obtained by surveys, but those are rarely enough to give you the gritty data you need for a real read of the situation. No, you need to make visits. And don’t just chat with your “good” customers.

See the ones whose orders are inconsistent or dropping—the ones your salespeople don’t like to see themselves. Make these visits about learning. Find a dozen ways to ask: “What can we do better?”
Finally, Cash Flow

Numbers never lie. All your other profit-and-loss numbers, like net income, have some art to them. They’ve been massaged through the accounting process, which is filled with assumptions. But free cash flow tells you the true condition of the business. It gives you a sense of your maneuverability—whether you can return cash to shareholders, pay down debt, borrow more to grow faster, or any combination of these options. Cash flow helps you understand and control your destiny.

Without doubt, there are lots of ways to measure the pulse of a business. But if you have employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow right, you can be sure your company is healthy and on the way to winning.

Have any keys to add? Please add your suggestions in the comments below. Click HERE for the full article.

Jay Block

CEO of The Small Business Journal - "The Smartest Magazine on Business"
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