Need a new “S” Curve?

Restart your growth!

If your business is like many others, it has progressed through a period of growth, followed by flattening out. The future is up to you. Will you begin the decline as many mature companies before, or will you start a new season of growth? There are two primary areas to consider to energize your growth: your approach to the market, and your approach to your management team.

With regards to the market you pursue and your positioning, it is important to reassess whether doing what has brought you this far is the best course to continue. Many find that developing new products/services for an existing customer base is challenging. Commercializing new category starters often requires different skills and a cultural shift. For others, successful marketing is determined by finding new places to promote and deliver existing offerings.

Management teams in maturing companies can become stagnant. A shot in the arm in terms of professional development of soft skills can be the ideal prescription. It is too easy to allow silos to develop and technical knowledge isolates without intentional growth of individual team members. Whether it is an executive MBA, or certificate programs, or simply using industry continuing education as a way to diversify one’s competencies, do something to make your managers more valuable! Added to the value of learning new skills is the benefit of gaining greater emotional intelligence. A mentor or coach brought in from the outside can guide managers into better decision making.

The best course of action is to combine marketing/business development initiatives with management team professional growth. We hope you are successful in starting a new “S” curve in your business. Let us know if we can help!


How “professional” is your services firm?

Whether the billable workers are architects, CPAs, engineers, lawyers, or management consultants, there is a certain prestige that comes with being a professional services firm. The credentials on the wall, the exam that had to be passed, and the fees that can be charged for hourly work all distinguish these white collar technicians from those who procure their insights and performance of tasks often related to compliance.

In many of these firms, those without the primary certification–even those working at a director level–are misfits, not considered “professional” in their discharge of duties. In fact, the HR, marketing, management accounting, and similar roles are as accomplished in their respective fields as the billable personnel they serve. A healthy mutual respect would likely ensue and firms would benefit from the same array of expertise disciplines as a more general, “non-professional” services organization.

It is not uncommon for training and development, for instance, to be isolated to continuing education focused on technical skills to the exclusion of the softer, intangible skills that make for better managers, business developers, client relationship nurturers, and the like. When professional development includes fostering the “non-professional” competencies within the suite of requisite skills and roles of “professionals,” then services firms will have evolved.

From talent management and succession planning to emotional intelligence and employee engagement, there’s much to be gained from professional HR. Consultative skills, networking nuances, intentional brand building and thought leadership best practices can be modeled by the business development (or marketing) professional. And so on…

The time has come to either staff for these professional roles in house (which the regional and national firms are doing), or outsource the function on a fractional basis to competent providers (which needs to be done by everyone else.) Often,  the internal resource, regardless of firm size, is overtaxed perpetuating a stream of work tasks that existed before (s)he arrived and cannot carve out the time to address internal growth and development needs.

Find a solution!

High Potentials Realize High Impact Performance POtential with Nurture!

Who Are These People?

Corporate leaders typically look to the top-rated 3 percent to 5 percent of their employees as candidates for fast-tracking. Writing in the June 2010 Harvard Business Review, researchers Jay Conger, Douglas Ready and Linda Hill describe high-potentials as individuals who “consistently and significantly outperform their peer groups in a variety of settings and circumstances. … They exhibit behaviors that reflect their companies’ culture and values in an exemplary manner. Moreover, they show a strong capacity to grow and succeed throughout their careers within an organization—more quickly and effectively than their peer groups do.”

In an August, 2011 article in HR magazine, Robert Grossman cites 14 retention strategies (below). In our experience, many of these strategies are less effective when administered internally/implemented without outside guidance.

Hippotential is one of those outside guides who work with employers to nurture their high potentials and move them from potential to performance!

  1. Tell them they’re special.
  2. Align individual and company needs during a consultative process.
  3. Delegate real responsibility.
  4. Be flexible.
  5. Show them they matter.
  6. Tap effective mentors.
  7. Foster visibility.
  8. Make learning and advancement seem never-ending.
  9. Focus on developing the attributes leaders are bound to need.
  10. Give managers assessment tools they need and will use for selection.
  11. Use a systems approach.
  12. Put assessment to the transparency test.
  13. Part on friendly terms.
  14. Get buy-in from top leaders.

Of Hippos and Men

Remember the dancing hippos in Fantasia? Why did they dance? Hyacinth Hippo is being wooed by Ben Ali Gator and shes does the daytime dance with her servants. Do you ever feel that you are being sought after by someone who ordinarily would not be your natural choice? Perhaps the owner of your business sees potential in you and wants you to explore it. Or, one of your peers on the management team (though you may not always get along) has determined that you are stronger when working together and reaches out to you…

If the dynamics of your work environment make you uneasy rather than feeling like dancing, chances are that you would collectively benefit from some organizational development. Individually, exploration of your emotional intelligence (EQ) could yield enhanced personal and group performance. As a team, the managers may not, in the words of Good to Great, be in the “right seats on the bus.” Often, the top executive in a privately owned business fails to delegate to key managers to the detriment of the business. This can occur when the decisions of the managers are not trusted. By bringing in an outside objective third party, the trust gap can be closed and more efficient management systems implemented. The “icing on the cake” is that, in the eyes of outsiders, a company is almost always worth more money when there is a built-out management team making significant decisions without reliance on the top executive.

Hope you have already figured this out at your company. You would be in a very small minority and are to be congratulated. For most everyone else, removing some dysfunction could lead to some dancing!