I had a nice lunch yesterday with Dr. Bob Sprague. “Dr. Bob” is a well-known organizational psychologist who has worked with many privately-held firms over the years. Bob is interested in helping companies and leaders think differently. Our lunch was at Johnny’s Half Shell on Capitol Hill; home of the best shrimp “po boy” north of Mobile.
Bob shared the interim results of a study he is conducting on the impact of the recession on business operations and success. He’s interviewing CEOs of privately held companies that have successfully made it through the recession. He says, that at this point in the study, there seems to be five key areas that distinguish the more successful organizations:
1. Customer Focus – Never lose sight of the fact that any organization must remain customer-driven and customer centered. The most successful organizations have reportedly spent more time and resources developing closer relationships with their prime customers to build greater client loyalty.
2. Reliance Upon A Limited Number of Key Employees – Even though every CEO mentioned a reliance on hiring and developing the “right” employees, there was an underlying theme that the most successful CEO’s relied more upon a smaller group of key employees than they had in the past and seemingly took better care of this “small cadre of talent.” In some cases, this permitted the CEO to focus more on company strategy and less on day-to-day operations.
3. Increased Cost Consciousness– Aside from routine cost containment, the most successful firms outsourced services whenever possible to decrease rising personnel costs, invested in new technology to increase employee productivity, and explored mergers and acquisitions.
4. A Personal Commitment To Passion, Persistence, and Creating An Environment That Demands Excellence – The most successful firms were led by leaders who viewed their work life as more of a “calling” than just a profession, set very high standards, were unbelievably persistent, and worked very, very hard at remaining positive, even in the most challenging circumstances.
5. A Corporate Culture That Was Very Clear and Permeated The Organization – The most effective Corporate Cultures focused on customer satisfaction, employee involvement and development, and “family values”. In some cases, organizations used the culture as a screening tool for new hires, stating “If you don’t fit the culture, you don’t fit the job!”
Dr. Bob’s company is RBSprague Consulting and his research is continuing. If you’re the head of privately held company of any size or kind Bob would like to include you in his survey. Bob has published a great set of articles about leadership, “The 6 Key Mistakes That Even Good Leaders Make Every Day.”