Clear to Compete


It is so important for every employee in a company to understand how they compete in the marketplace. What industry problem have you identified and solved? Here’s a true story to illustrate-

I was talking with a colleague the other day. His company provides same-day service on projects received by a set cut off time. When customers send their projects in on time, they get turned around the same day; after the cut-off, next day.

Last week, a customer sends in a critical job after the cut-off, and begs the company to try to get it out same-day.  The company obliges, but one employee is furious that the customer hasn’t followed the rules. He becomes notably agitated in the presence of his colleagues and even recommends calling the customer to tell them to stop sending their jobs after cut-off.

The job goes perfectly, out the same day with a little extra effort from the staff. The next day, the customer sends a huge Edible Arrangements basket of chocolate-covered fruit with a note of extreme thanks for getting the project out. It meant everything to this customer to get same-day service on this particular job, even though they missed the cut-off. In fact, the cost of the fruit arrangement was more than the cost for the job!

To this, I ask my friend, “So what happened with the employee?” Nothing. I told my friend this was a huge opportunity to modify this behavior and make sure every employee understands how your company competes! Go follow up with this individual, I told him, to express to him that the company’s ability to get the job out on the same day is what sets you apart from your competition. Your agility and commitment to customer service is  your secret weapon for creating loyal and long-term customer relationships. None of their competitors could have done what they did.

This story is an example of the kind of “folklore” I help companies spotlight to guide and direct employee behavior. When employees at every level in the organization know exactly what makes them special, what makes them more profitable, they are compelled and empowered to behave in alignment with your stated competitive advantage.

That’s our spark, what’s yours?