Step one in business transformation is to align your purpose, ambition, values, and behaviors. This allows for clarity on what your company stands for and how you can most authentically connect with customers in a meaningful way. I recently covered an overview of this inside-out business reflection process here.
Once your journey towards the desired state has begun, it’s time to review how customers receive your efforts. How does your new business state translate to your desired identity? How are your actions and behaviors making others feel, both within and outside the business?
Every decision, belief, and action impacts the way customers perceive your business. Their perception is your identity. Think of this exercise as an extended reality check- a mirror reflecting the output of all your business efforts.
Before conducting any team assessments or client reviews, leadership should consider and define the company’s desired identity. How do you want to make others feel? When the keyboard warriors get going (and they will get going), what do you hope they say about your business?
This desired identity is what you’ll be measuring all feedback against going forward, both internal and external. Communicating it across the company will ensure that everyone is measuring themselves against the same desired identity during self, peer, and customer assessments. Ultimately, all your efforts around purpose, ambition, values and behaviors will only be as strong as the identity they create in the real world.
These assessments are an internal request for company feedback, distributed by leadership to gauge the situation. Build a cadence of doing this at least bi-annually.
Not only will it encourage candid, honest feedback on how the business is doing and how each contributor perceives the company values based on behaviors, but it encourages a thoughtful review of leadership’s performance as well.
If your organization is already saturated with corporate surveys, there are other assessment methods, but they require the commitment of all involved to engage in a continuous learning dialogue. When you’re ready to go all-in on cultivating a collective growth environment, please reach out to me and we can discuss a personalized process and timeline to fit your business needs.
In the meantime, here are some of the types of questions you might ask:
When it comes to internal feedback, providing the option to respond anonymously can ensure that people are honest and transparent in their feedback. In an ideal situation, you have built a safe environment where people feel empowered to talk openly about these things without fear of being stigmatized or suffering consequences if their feedback is not favorable to leadership. Constructive criticism coupled with forward-action is an essential component of improvement and growth.
Once feedback is gathered, take the time to dissect it, identify trends and patterns, and where your business state and desired identity is aligned or not.
Now that you’ve gathered and assessed all internal feedback, the final lens is through your external relationships such as clients, customers, vendors, and partners.
Say one of the core business values was to treat others the same way your team desires to be treated. The expectation would be that all external relations experience fair and just treatment in the way you conduct business with them.
But, let’s say vendors express frustration with unreasonable purchasing conditions, recognizing that the same wouldn’t fly if the tables were turned. This contradiction to a core value could very well be something you hadn’t previously acknowledged. Encouraging an honest, thoughtful review of their experience with your business is critical to uncovering blind spots and hang-ups that could be prevented in the future.
It’s worth noting that some partner and client feedback requests may cause tension or fear of straining the relationship. While seeking direct open feedback from long-term partnerships is often feasible, an alternative approach may sometimes be required.
You may consider sending out anonymous survey requests and guaranteeing confidence or offering a small thank you gift as a token of appreciation in exchange for candid thoughts. Whichever way you go about eliciting feedback, be clear and upfront on why you’re asking and how you intend to consider the findings in improving the collective business experience.
If you complete all of these layers of review and find that your current state and desired identity are aligned, then you’re in great shape and ready to move on to considering value creation and growth.
But, what if our analyses yield unfavorable results? AKA we uncover that our current business state and desired identity are not aligned? Quite frankly, it’s to be expected.
If you discover that your current identity is not your desired identity, know that it can and will change with the right effort. The first step towards that change is identifying and acknowledging a disconnect. Check.
With your newfound feedback top-of-mind, lean back and take another look at your behaviors. You’re searching for concrete evidence: specific conversations held with team members and clients, tactical resolutions to customer concerns, solution-oriented interactions, times where your business made a customer’s life easier and times when it didn’t. When you begin to dig into the day-to-day behaviors, where did you veer off track?
It can be easy for leadership to get caught up in a specific vision and perspective but, when you take a critical look through the lens of those you aim to serve, that’s when your business’s path to growth can begin to illuminate. And that’s exactly where we’re heading.
For more info/questions about this topic or business transformation in general, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always grateful to keep the conversation going!