By Joseph Gianni, CEO, 2logical
“Change on a dime!” “We need to do more with less!” “Innovate!”
These are the battle cries from the executive ranks to the troops, and in today’s business world, they are the reality we face virtually every day. This drive toward continuous innovation has rendered the traditional reactive method of people development—closing individual skill gaps that seem to stand in the way of results—obsolete.
No company can compete when its work teams are only capable of delivering one set result. This one-dimensional, results-based thinking no longer works in a marketplace that demands multi-dimensional capabilities to win.
For example, today’s companies need their customer service departments to do far more than answer customers’ questions. These teams are called upon to retain clients and to identify new sales opportunities through cross-selling, up-selling, and reselling.
A leading financial and insurance company faced exactly this challenge as it approached a merger with an international firm. The financial company retained 2logical to help the service team make this important transition.
Large numbers of the company’s customers so feared the pending merger that they closed their accounts and moved their assets to competitors. The company needed its customer service representatives (CSRs) to go beyond their standard role of client service to client retention. Company leaders also wanted CSRs to sell additional products to qualified clients.
Achieving this major change required much more than closing skill gaps. It required a shift in each CSR’s mindset.
The CSRs had never been asked to take a proactive role in conserving clients or cross-selling. There existed a significant belief gap: These people were certain they could not execute their new, unfamiliar responsibilities. They were especially resistant to the idea of selling. A basic skills-gap training program would have had no effect when these people believed strongly that they could not sell, no matter what they were trained to do.
It was time for the management team to move from a results-based model to a results-capable model of employee development.
In the traditional results-based approach, management identifies skill gaps as potential threats to achieving corporate goals. Training initiatives are launched to develop the skill. In the meantime, mission-critical corporate goals can shift like the wind. Stopping to train for one skill gap after another keeps the company from moving smoothly and swiftly from one challenge to the next.
Today, companies that want to compete in a global marketplace need to create a results-capable workforce—a team of people who can move with the tide, accept and internalize new strategies, and execute change with confidence.
To understand the difference, think for a moment about your own employees.
Describe the best employees you have. What makes them so good? Is it simply their productivity, or is it something greater? Here are some of the statements our clients make about their best people:
- “They’re willing to accept personal responsibility for their own successes or failures.”
- “They are committed to getting results from their actions every day.”
- “They have the self-confidence and self-esteem required to allow them to become highly adaptable…they believe they are capable.”
- “They are our go-to people when we absolutely have to deliver a specific result.”
Now, think about your weakest employees. What puts them at the low point on your list?
- They are quick to point fingers and place blame.
- They are unwilling to accept change.
- They cannot accept either compliments or constructive criticism.
- Their demeanor actively works to bring down the morale of the rest of your team.
- They see no connection between the company’s success and their personal or professional goals.
The gap that exists in our weaker employees is not in their skills—that’s just a symptom of a greater problem. The gap lies in their beliefs about themselves and their work.
Now that you’ve applied this idea to your own frame of reference, here is the real question…
Can a results-capable mindset be taught?
Not only can it be taught, but it mustbe taught if American companies are to keep up with global competition.
In the case of the financial company described above, the results from closing the belief gaps and making these people more results-capable were extraordinary. The new service department retained $896 million in at-risk assets during the first 18 months following the merger.
Your results-capable workforce will be like no set of employees you’ve ever had before. They execute on what is needed to succeed, not simply on what they know, like, or are comfortable doing. Self-efficacy and self-esteem become part of the DNA of such a company’s entire learning process.
Is this utopian workforce even possible? You may have a microcosm of this in your company now—a department with a leader who has made this ideal a reality. In fact, fresh out of college more than 25 years ago, I worked for such a leader who had built an unstoppable sales team because of his results-capable development focus. He delivered a monumental result: Nearly 90 percent of the people promoted to the company’s upper management came from his team.
When you move from results-based training to results-capable training, you have the opportunity to take your company to higher levels than you thought possible. Whatever the global economy does next, your people will be ready to turn on a dime and embrace your corporate goals—because they will have the confidence they need to take personal responsibility for their results.
Joseph Gianni is chief executive officer of 2logical, a leadership and sales training organization with clients in 34 countries. 2logical clients include major banking, finance, technology, energy, and health-care corporations around the globe.