TIME and MONEY always follow WHAT YOU VALUE most
I am constantly reminded of this throughout many of my conversations with leaders, business owners, and CEOs of companies. When we talk about “where they allocate their funds” and “where they have employees spend their time” it becomes very clear what they value most in their company. And it works just as well from a personal perspective as it does a professional one. I’m not qualified to provide therapy to individuals in these areas (that’s what my wife and daughter are trained to do) so I will stick to the business side of this discussion.
Where this becomes critical in my conversations, as you can imagine, is relating to their BUSINESS STRATEGY and their CUSTOMERS. Knowing where their most valuable resources of time and money are being allocated is a great indicator of where the focus is of the business (or non-profit). It simply provides a ROADMAP for what is important and future direction.
For example, if a business owner tells me he is putting a bunch of money into some new machinery to make an even better product, he is telling me he values his products above all else. If she tells me they are going to be investing some funds and putting together some key events to recognize and reward their employees, she is valuing her employees. It’s actually a pretty simple analysis to perform on a company. The key is to get the CEO to be honest and open about where they are spending their time and money…this is often times more difficult than you might think.
Here is a GUIDE that can help you think about this issue as a leader in your company and give you some insights into what is happening vs. what you want to happen…
- How is current income used…this is straightforward look at the allocation of income in your company. It can be as simple as a level breakdown of where income is being spent inside the organization. How much goes to product maintenance and creation? How much is allocated to employees (salaries and non-salary expenditures)? How much is allocated to the experience you deliver to your customers? How much is allocated to further expansion (geographically or current space)? You get the idea…this is simply an analysis of where income is being allocated.
- How are current profits used…this analyzes how much and where investment and “opportunity funds” are allocated. How are they allocated in the areas listed above for income allocation? How much of the profits are put into these areas…investment dollars…R&D and innovation allocations? This is an important analysis since it asks where are we investing our “extra” money where we think we can make even more money?
- How are outside Investment dollars used…this is similar to the profit analysis since it focuses on what you do with “additional opportunity funds” in the business. Use the same analysis as you did for the profit analysis since they are similar, only coming from external sources.
- How does the Leadership team use their time…this provides a high level analysis of where the leaders in your company allocate and invest their time. Do they focus on products/services, customers, innovation, solving issues, etc.
- How do your Employees allocate their time…where do your employees spend most of their time? This is similar to the leadership question only it focuses on what employees are doing and where leadership directs them to spend their time. This is usually best answered by asking the employees, not their managers.
After analyzing the results of these questions, you will have a much better idea of what the company values the most…not what people might say they value the most but what is actually valued the most by the organization.
Here’s the FIRST PROBLEM with the results of the analysis. When I ask leaders how IMPORTANT ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS to the organization the answer is always a resounding and emphatic, “They mean the world to us and without them we would be nothing.” However, in reviewing the analysis, their CUSTOMERS AREN’T AT THE TOP OF THEIR TIME AND MONEY ALLOCATIONS. We have a DISCONNECT with what they are saying is important and what appears to be important based on how they are allocating their money and their time.
Here’s the SECOND PROBLEM with this issue of being disconnected…CUSTOMERS KNOW YOUR ALLOCATIONS BETTER THAN ANYONE. Customers are not idiots or stupid…they know what is going on by how they are treated by your employees. Telling the customer you have lots of new products coming down the line they will love is nice but it doesn’t show them the company is INVESTING IN THEM. It shows the company is investing in cranking out more products/services to make more money off of them so they can crank out some more products/services. Customers figure this out.
Customers know it isn’t being invested in them. And they reward you by treating you like a COMMODITY. When you don’t crank out the best and latest products/services, they will find another company that does. They won’t be LOYAL TO YOU…they will be LOYAL TO THE PRODUCT/SERVICE. This doesn’t offer differentiation or uniqueness today, it just means you are either the “top commodity” to the customer or you aren’t and they spend their dollars accordingly.
CUSTOMERS CAN AND WANT TO BE LOYAL TO YOU!
They want to engage with you, provide you with valuable feedback, give you insights others can’t get, and spread massive word-of-mouth about you. But you have to SHOW YOUR CUSTOMERS you are willing to INVEST YOUR TIME AND MONEY into them. When they see your leadership and employee time and money being invested back into them, giving them a TRULY REMARKABLE AND MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE, they will reward you by being your LOYAL ADVOCATE and telling others about you…WORD-OF-MOUTH.
It can really be this simple. We all reward those that invest in us. It happens in both our professional and personal lives. And while I’m not the personal expert, I do know one thing…if you invest your time and money into personal relationships with your spouse, friends, significant others, and family, they reward you with loyalty and love…and they aren’t shy about telling others about you and their experiences they have with you. It works as well (or even better) in your personal life as it does in your business life.
I would challenge every leader to honestly evaluate where you are allocating your TIME and MONEY…this will give you some great insights into what you and your company VALUES the most. It might not be what you want…or what your customers or employees want…but that’s where the opportunity lies for leadership to change the direction of the ship. Rethink the business strategy with your customers being at the center of your time and money…the difference will shock and amaze you. And your competitors won’t know what to do when they see your customers becoming LOYAL ADVOCATES and bringing their friends with them. Give it a shot…what you won’t lose are your best customers!