Honing your competitive edge

Developing your company’s competitive edge starts with creating a company culture which encourages customer service and allows it to flourish, says Christine McMahon, a Milwaukee consultant who does performance training for companies. The other critical component of honing your competitive edge is having the right employees to carry out your company mission, McMahon says.
“If you go to Disney, typically, you are wowed,” McMahon says. “Your visit is flawless, it is nothing less than an absolute delight. Their whole focus is: ‘How do we deliver absolutely beyond what people expect?’ They are a big company, but they think small when it comes to delivering.”
At Disney, every single employee is hired and profiled to ensure that he or she is able to deliver the Disney experience, says McMahon, who recently studied Disney’s methods firsthand. Disney only hires happy people, because unhappy people do not deliver outstanding customer satisfaction, she says.
Based on the Disney model, McMahon says, here’s how to go about sharpening your competitive edge:
Hiring – You have to hire right. Within your organization, the people doing the interviewing are often not skilled at determining whether the candidate is right for the company. Determine the skills a prospective employee needs to make an outstanding contribution to your organization. Are you hiring for the future, or are you hiring for today? Hire for the future, as you can outgrow certain employees.
Setting the expectation – Once hired, employees need to know what they are going to be measured on, in terms of making a contribution to the organization. One of the things that Disney does when it hire s is give its employees a full set of criteria for making a decision. That allows it to handle virtually any situation. Employees are told that public safety is paramount with Disney, as is demonstrating courtesy, being an integral part of the show – they have to be “on” – and operating in an efficient manner.
Training – “Often, when we hire people, we are not really sure that they know how to do the job,” McMahon says. “Give them the skills and the know-how, the tools, so they can be effective. Training allows employees to practice, to make sure that they are doing it right.”
Feedback – Let your employees know what things they are doing well, and let them know what they are doing poorly. That lets employees know where they need to focus. What do they need to learn? Remember, most employees want to be successful, and they want to make a difference.
Accountability and Ownership – They understand the expectations, they have been given the tools, and they have to want to be successful. You want to hire people who are happy, who are passionate, who want to make a difference, and who have the potential capability for doing the job.
The Consequences – If an employee is not performing based upon expectations, what are the consequences? Companies sometimes don’t know how to terminate employee relationships. They also don’t know how to provide feedback for good performances. Often, people want additional responsibilities. They want to grow, they want to spread their wings. Don’t overlook good performances.

– John Rondy

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