Making an Impact

When you think of impact, you might think of the big bang, or the lunar landing, or footprints in the sand. You might conjure up images of water balloons going splat on a hot sidewalk or the impression you make with a heart shaped cookie cutter in a rolled out batch of sugar cookies. 

Or maybe, like me, you think of the difference you make in the world.  Does your effort each day make a difference? Does it leave an impression on your coworkers, clients, or customers?  How can you tell?  If you have employees do they feel like their work matters?  Or do they clock in for their 8 hours a day, hoping for Friday to arrive quickly? 

As employers, it is our job to help our teams, our people, our staff feel like they matter. But first, we have to set a clear direction and define the goal.  There’s a lot of talk about measures and metrics, and we are big fans of creating them ourselves, but there is a right way and a wrong way to use measurements.

If you really want to inspire and empower people, you must create measures by including those who will be measured by them, not by only asking their managers. 

Consider these two different scenarios:

  1. Owner Creates Measures

It is the beginning of the new year, the owner and company leaders have just returned from a retreat where they decided to focus on increasing revenues for the coming year. They have reviewed the metrics from last year (via an Excel spreadsheet with 100 different tabs) and decided that Average Order value is the critical measure that will help them achieve their financial goal of an improved bottom line (Net Income) for the coming year.

They tell their leadership team to determine the current year’s average order size for each category and channel of wine sold and then set the goals for their teams.  Leaders then go back to their teams and give everyone an objective, copies of the report that will be used to report on the metric monthly, and even announce a prize for the team that is able to show an improvement in the average order size (Average Order Value = sales $ per period divided by number of orders for the period).  

How does an individual employee go back to his or her desk and begin to take action in support of that metric?  What do the operations or production teams need to do? Does the warehouse make different decisions to support this goal? What about sales and marketing?  Does HR know how to hire and or create incentive programs in support of that desired goal?

Who on the leadership team will be able to determine how to empower their staff to work towards this goal?

In this scenario, employees will consider the goal,and try to figure out how they can support it until, unable to come up with anything, they give up and return to whatever they did last year. They hope someone else is able to do something to move the business towards it goal.

Motivating? Impactful? Inspiring?

2. Front Line Workers Create Measures

It is the end of a year.  Owners and leadership review the financial results and determine that increasing net income is the goal for the coming year.  They consider different drivers of increased net income (namely income and expense) and decide to focus on income improvement for the following year.

They invite everyone in the company to a team meeting in which they talk about the current year’s results, high level goals for next year and where they would like to focus.  Everyone knows that net income improvement is the goal.

The meeting facilitator then gives everyone a basic level of understanding of financial information.  He or she explains the possible high level changes that could be made in order to impact net income and explains which types of receipts and disbursements impact income and expense and which ones don’t.  She then tells those assembled that rather than focusing on cutting costs, the company has decided to focus on revenue improvement. Everyone is divided into teams and are told to identify actions that can impact revenue for the business.

The sales team considers their sales process, seeking changes that can impact their ability to close more sales.  They think about pricing and how they fulfill orders, they look at loyalty programs, bundled offers, and even discounting.  They review the orders by case for the last year, seeking to identify customer preferences.  Then they look at the various touchpoints where a customer might be given a chance to expand their order.  Then they determine the inputs that they can control – and decide to count things like the number of outbound calls they make per week, the number of new emails captured each week, the number of hotels they have contacted over a set period of time and how to expand each program and the number of units sold with each order.

The operations/production team considers how they might facilitate more sales – and comes up with an idea of producing a 375 ml bottle with a higher per unit price.  This allows their customers to access a high quality product at a more approachable price.

Marketing decides to promote product bundles and special shipping offers for large volume purchases. They go to market with a campaign designed around large format bottles and sharing experiences with your (vaccinated) friends.

HR decides to offer financial training to team members and plans to create a dashboard that will be posted in the breakroom so that everyone can see how their actions have impacted the company’s bottom line.

Accounting will be updating sales and order volume data each morning and sharing the results with teams along with a comparison to the same period last year. They will be tracking the percentage of impact daily, weekly, monthly and yearly.

The warehouse team suggests that marketing create an insert for each outgoing order that offers a reorder special for any items included in that shipment.  They decide to count the conversion rate for orders based on the promotion.

The teams capture their suggestions and then reconvene to share their ideas with the rest of the company. Cross department goals are compared and aligned so that everyone can work together towards the goal. Marketing provides support to ideas that originate in other departments. Departmental metrics are agreed upon and owned by the teams who created them.

Everyone leaves the meeting with a clear vision of where they should focus in the coming year.

Which scenario sounds like the better option?

How can you make an impact? How can you empower your teams to contribute in a way that makes a difference in your winery?  What ideas might you get when you involve everyone on your team in driving your business results?

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