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It is standard knowledge that in the coaching and consulting world, the best people are known by the questions they ask to solicit constructive responses. While we won’t build a whole session on only 4 questions, they actually become door openers that will allow you to dig deeper with your clients. Business owners can also use these questions to examine their own businesses.
When we deal with companies of all sizes the core data and driving principles should be the same except they will vary in volume. To discover the overall health it is best to focus on the core areas to determine if the company is needing assistance, solid or is poised for growth. The areas we focus on deal with employees, customers, processes and finances. Getting a pulse from only four questions can be difficult if you don’t ask the right questions or you aren’t listening to the answer.
So, what can help you as a business owner, consultant or coach? Concentrate your questioning around these key issues. If you don’t have these four questions built into your repertoire, MEMORIZE THEM!
1. Do you measure employee engagement? If no, then why not? If yes, then how often do you do it, and what do you do with the results?
2. Do you measure customer satisfaction or loyalty? If no, then why not? If yes, how often do you do it, and what do you do with the results?
3. Do you proactively use the results from 1 & 2 to effect improvements in your business processes and offerings? If no, then why not? If yes, then how often and how deep do you dig into the data?
4. Do you examine current cash flow on a regular basis? Does it allow you to return cash to shareholders, pay down debt, and/or borrow more to grow faster? If not, how much do you need to do so?
Here’s a brief explanation of why these 4 questions can make a big difference in examining any business whether as an owner, consultant or coach.
No company, regardless of size, can remain competitive and be sustainable in their chosen market without employees who believe in the mission and know what they need to do to achieve it. It’s critical for all companies to measure the level of employee engagement at least once a year … anonymously.
Senior management should be looking for more relevant data than finding out if they like the coffee in the employee lounge or are they happy with the current office colors. In fact, neither of those questions should be included in any employee survey! The value of employee engagement surveys lie in asking meaty questions that people deal with every day and may or may not communicate with leadership.
Here are some samples:
- How do they feel about the leadership of the organization?
- Do they know and understand the strategic objectives of the owner or executive team for the next five years?
- How do they feel about the people processes and opportunities offered by human resources?
- Do they feel they personally impact the company’s business results?
- How comfortable they are with the way the company establishes and reviews rules and processes?
- Do they understand and support how the company develops knowledge and data for future growth?
- How comfortable are the with company processes when it comes to interacting and supporting customers?
Customers are the next link in every “successful company”. Do you know if you’re providing the products your customers need and are servicing them in the way they expect? To find these answers, ASK, of course! Don’t just ask your good customers; ask the ones who haven’t ordered in a while or the ones who don’t order at the volume they did previously. Asking them one simple question, “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?” will speak volumes and help the company with defining the business direction. Asking more in-depth questions will uncover other opportunities, IF leadership is open and creative in listening.
Every active business will have processes and rules that drive interactions between employees, customers, vendors and service providers so understanding the nature of the current processes can open a whole different perspective into the stability or volatility of the company.
Sometimes, when you are a business owner, the processes have been in place for so long that it is second nature to everyone but are those processes still current and effective or have they become burdensome for everyone. Many times people will do things out of habit and not even think about the benefits or costs of that activity. For example, I have seen operations where they will process invoices for less than $1 due to principle but not recognize that it costs them $35 to cut and collect that $1.
Dealing proactively with your employees and customers will definitely provide insights into the value or lack thereof in your processes but what you do with that information is critical to making your company grow and contribute to the community.
Lastly, there are finances. If you ask any business owner how they measure their finances and cash flow, they’ll have an answer for you, for sure. But be sure they’re specific about the definition of cash flow. Most profit and loss numbers have been massaged through the accounting process, depending on the package or processes they use. They need to be looking at true, raw cash flow and how it moves through the company.
So, how can all of that help you as a business owner, consultant or coach? Concentrate your questioning around these key areas.
Asking these questions, employing proper assessments to ferret out more information, applying processes to effect a change, and measuring the results will help YOU grow your business or for consultants or coaches it will help you develop repeat and referral business because your clients will be both healthy and happy with their results!
If you have any questions, we can help you develop questions, processes and change management for your specific situation. Please call us for a free evaluation or to answer any questions at 630-935-3326. Check out our Transformative Leadership Group website.