Posts Tagged ‘organizational assessment’

How Do You Develop Customer Loyalty?

To develop customer loyalty means that you must know what to do and probably change your paradigms.  Loyal customers have different expectations than just satisfied ones.

Customer Loyalty Coaching Tip:  The digital disruption will impact your paradigms about loyal customers.

To learn your customers’ expectations begins with the management team.  Senior management needs to identify the points of connection within the customers’ experiences. Points of connection are anything that customers can see, feel, smell, taste or hear. Literally walking through the organization is a very simple way to locate the many points of connection.

Also, management needs to determine what a loyal customer is worth over the average customer lifetime.  For example, a satisfied customer visits a local retailer four times a year and spends an average of $50. This customer is worth $200.  A loyal customer visits the same store, spends $50 weekly and her value climbs to $2,600 annually.

Now consider those customers shop the same store in the same manner for 10 years. The satisfied customer has a total customer value of $2,000 while the loyal customer is worth $26,000.  This calculation quickly demonstrates how just a 5% retention in customers can create a 25 to 100% increase in profitability.

Some retail stores such as automotive to industries such as lodging have extensive data about their customers and understand the overall value every potential customer brings to their establishment.

Then a customer service survey can be created to reflect these points of connections as well as other issues such as unresolved problems.  When this information is compiled, then a customer loyalty strategic plan can be developed to ensure that all actions are aligned to the goal of developing loyal customers.

Of course, employees also need to be trained and developed to embrace a customer loyalty philosophy while shedding the old one of customer satisfaction. This customer service training should have them also identify points of connection and understand the critical goal of problem resolution.

TAKE ACTION to make every customer experience is the best.  Begin with a organizational assessment that is aligned to a continuous improvement process. Then take time to identify the critical points of connection.

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Enablement Is a Business Strategy; It’s Not Just for Sales Training

sales-trainingSales enablement continues to increase in popularity within the sales training community.  However, enablement should not just be relegated to sales training instead enablement should become a fully integrated business strategy, let me explain.

The word enablement comes from the verb, enable, which means “to make able.”  If you are only making able your sales, this does suggest you are potentially creating or further deepening other gaps within your business regardless if you are a sole proprietor or a mid-size to small business. Also as execution still is a significant barrier, then by “making able” all involved would significantly reduced or eliminate this barrier.

The 5 Star Model

sales-trainingPossibly one of the best guides to better understanding this word enablement is the 5 Star Model as developed by Jay Galbraith and referred to in past postings.  What Galbraith and his team recognized was the importance of alignment.  Without interconnecting alignment between strategy, structure, processes/systems, rewards and people, companies face critical gaps. These gaps prevent results and therefore drain profits.

Simply speaking, misalignment is absence of enablement.

An Enablement Culture

Zappos made news in late 2013 with the announcement of having a Holacratic organizational structure.  No bosses would enable employees to do what they need to do. Not all organizations are ready for this restructuring because it requires an evolving process.

To begin this process of an enable culture starts with assessing the current organization.  One of the better organizational assessments I have had worked with is D.I.AL.O.G. This proven organizational assessment examines the organization through the  seven Baldrige criteria and presents the executive leadership team with comprehensive analysis from all perspectives within the business.

Leadership The Lynchpin

sales-trainingFor true enablement to happen does demand leadership be leading in a consistent, forward thinking and highly ethical manner. Poor leadership is the reason for dis-enablement. The authors of Fail-Safe Leadership did not discuss enablement directly. However, their book looks at what is keeping an organization from”making so” what it needs to do.

If you are looking at sales enablement, great. Yet imagine what would happen if you embraced enablement as a business strategy and not just for sales training?

Leanne Hoagland-Smith, M.S.,  is an executive coach and talent management specialist who takes an heuristic approach to personal, professional and organizational growth. Her task is to support you in bridging the gap between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals. She can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Closing the Gaps Is a Critical Leadership Trait

Before any organization can experience sustainable business growth, leadership must close the gaps between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals.  Unfortunately, many leaders look to solve one problem without understanding  that problem is a  potential symptom of misalignment.  Small Business Coaching Tip: Misalignment happens because of gaps.

leadership-traitOf course before leadership can close any gaps, they must know what and where those gaps exist.  This is why investing in an organizational assessment is critical to achieving tomorrow’s goals.  I have found this one assessment, D.I.AL.O.G.  (Diagnostic Data Indicating the ALignment of Organizational Goals) to be incredibly beneficial.  This now 20 year assessment has a proven track record and is aligned to current Baldrige criteria.

Why D.I.AL.O.G.?

Many organizational assessments are individually constructed to meet the needs of the client and to increase the revenues for the consulting firm or executive coach.  Mid-size to small businesses do not have the extra dollars required for such expensive assessments nor the time to construct such an assessment. D.I.AL.O.G. can deliver results in less than 10 days. Beyond being an online organizational assessment aligned to Baldrige, this particular assessment allows for some one on one personal interviews to ensure all performance gaps have been uncovered.


Why a Critical Leadership Trait?

Imagine going to a doctor for a headache and being told you need brain surgery right at that moment without the doctor engaging in any diagnostics. What would you do?  Most would leave and seek a second opinion.

If you are a leader in an organization, you must lead and your leadership will make or break any organization. Just like having the headache and seeking a second opinion, leaders realize identifying the reasons for less than stellar performance is critical.

Now Is the Time To Lead

leadershipGreat leadership is about taking action and identifying the gaps between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals. Ignoring the reality of today and thinking tomorrow will be better without taking the necessary actions is only living Einstein’s definition of insanity.

If you want to close the gaps, stop the misalignment, then lead by investing the time and yes dollars in determining where your organization is draining your limited resources of time, energy, money and emotions. You just may be surprised by the results. Call Leanne Hoagland-Smith, today, at 219.508.2859 to learn more and schedule your D.I.AL.O.G.before you waste any more of your resources,.

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Do You Really Have Bad Business Strategy?

Are you one of those business executives desperately seeking a new business strategy because this year’s results were pardon the expression “all wet?

business-strategyIs seeking a new business strategy a fairly common end of the year or quarter business behavior?

Are you reaching for some quick fix instead of truly assessing the real problems and not the usual symptoms?

Have you ever considered your business strategy might be OK to even good?  Maybe the problem is something else?

Do you feel right now that I am pointing my finger at you?  Are you feeling a little uncomfortable?

Well, you should because before you hire that next business strategist, small business coach, executive coach or high price consulting firm possibly you may wish consider the following reasons why today’s results will not get you to tomorrow’s goals.



Some business executives believe they know how to assess their business operations and immediately jump into their profit and loss statements. This is one way, but not the only way and such an organizational assessment will miss many other limitations and opportunities.

Imagine for a moment going to the doctor with a headache and your doctor immediately schedules you for brain surgery without ordering any diagnostics or assessments.  Would you have confidence in his or her recommendation?

business-strategySo if your current business strategy is giving you a headache, why are you considering brain surgery before you assess what is really going on?

Additionally, if your current business strategies are not working and new ones are sought year after year because today’s results are not realizing tomorrow’s goals, then investing the time to assess the organization is the first step.  This organizational assessment can be informal to formal. However, employing  a more formal organizational assessment every 3 to 5 years based upon specific criteria such as Baldrige can uncover critical gaps.

One such assessment I recommend is D.I.AL.O.G which looks at an organization from 5 to 10 employees to hundreds of employees through these seven criteria:

  1. Leadership
  2. Strategic Planning
  3. Customer and Market Focus
  4. Measurement, Analysis and Knowledge Management
  5. Human Resource Focus
  6. Process Management
  7. Business Results

As an instructional designer what is so great about this particular assessment is its affordability and speed of delivery. Much larger consulting firms will construct a tailored organizational assessment that will cost your business an arm and a leg.  This Internet driven assessment is affordable; provides relatively quick insight and has the capacity to deliver additional insight through the 20 minute one on one conversations with a selected sample of the employee population.


Business Misalignment

Jay Galbraith developed a simple graphic to illustrate why gaps exist in organizations.  Gaps prevent results from happening. His 5 Star Model for organizational development or what I prefer to call organizational excellence is where I begin with all clients.  I listen for gaps between:

  • Strategy
  • Structure (Organizational and physical)
  • Process/Systems (Operations)
  • Rewards
  • People

Of course many do not know if business misalignment actually exists until a formal assessment is undertaken.



Usually because business misalignment exists, this creates another barrier to effective execution of business strategy. Many organizations fail to consistently communicate their strategies in ways for their people to understand.

Much of this failure is because of the lack of trust in employees or the “We can’t tell them that!” attitude. Unless employees have crystal clear clarity regarding the business strategy from their perspective results will continue to limp along.

In today’s world where so much can be discovered via the Internet, keeping secrets from employees or believing them to be mindless robots is illogical and simply ridiculous. No, you do not need to give them the proprietary, financial information, but you can communicate to them with purpose and illustrate why this or that business strategy is critical to the organization’s success.


business-strategyUltimately the buck stops here or at the door of leadership. The authors of Fail-Safe Leadership were ahead of their times when they published this short read on organizational excellence.

  • Organizations are comprised of people.
  • People lead and manage other people.
  • People are responsible for misdirected results or poor business results.

Unfortunately, the people at the top because of their failure to assess; misalignment and poor communication tend to blame everyone else.  Leadership more often than not is the real enemy for a business strategy not working. And yet leadership continues to blame the customesr, the employees, the competition or the economy.

Captain Wing It and the 4 Letter Dirty Word

Years ago a colleague shared a story about Captain Wing It. To condense that story is there are a lot of business executives who spray their actions (think strategies and tactics) all over the place and then pray something will stick. These folks are the Captain Wing Its.

Also the Captain Wing Its believe the word plan has all the connotation of a four letter dirty word.  I can say with 100% complete confidence that at least 80% of all businesses from 100 employees or less do not have a well thought out written, goal driven strategic plan that is actively revisited on a weekly basis.  Leadership leads with the ever present excuse of “I or we don’t have time.”

President Dwight Eisenhower said “Plans are worthless,planning is everything.”  This is even more true today.  Time must be invested to plan for tomorrow’s goals and to ensure today’s results are being achieved.



Your Next Step

If your business strategy is not working, then before you throw the baby out with the bathwater, consider re-reading this blog. Personally I do not like pointing fingers at people especially my readers, but enough is enough!

Now is the time to take intentional and purposeful action that will stop this yearly insanity of seeking that next quick fix business strategy to cure what ails today’s business results.

My final questions to you are these:

How many opportunities have you lost?

How much have you already invested in solutions that are not sustainable?

Can you afford another year of bad business results?





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Why I Love the Attribute Index

Six years ago in July of 2007, I finally broke down and included a performance appraisal assessment, the Attribute Index, within my practice. For many years, I had employed an organizational assessment, D.I.AL.O.G. that was aligned to Baldrige, but I just could not find the right assessment for individuals.

Attribute-IndexWhat kept me from bringing such a tool into my practice?

Possibly,  it was my background, training and experience as an instructional designer and knowing how good assessments are constructed or aren’t constructed (usually the later). Or maybe it was my penchant for mathematics when it came to reliability and validity scores.  Then it could also have been my own experience in how I could manipulate the results of the numerous performance appraisal assessments I had taken over the years.

Yet I continued to keep my eyes out for such a performance appraisal tool.

  • One that would be short to take, 10 to 12 minutes.
  • One that would be relatively easy to understand.
  • One that would yield robust results.
  • And finally one that I could build upon and unite with other more popular known assessments such as DISC, Values, and even 360s.

Then as the fates would have it, I attended an informational meeting and listened to a presentation about this performance appraisal assessment called the Attribute Index. When I had the opportunity to take it and did not immediately have to ask myself “what role am I in” when taking it, I began to change my attitude and belief about individual assessments. I became a certified consultant for this tool and then later brought other performance appraisal tools into my practice such as DISC Index, Values Index, Emotional Intelligence just to name a few.

The Attribute Index for my clients has been incredibly powerful because of its statistical co-efficients (.92 where others such as DISC or 360s are a .85) and the wealth of information it reveals in just 10-12 minutes.This essence of this tool is it provides clarity from an objective and deductive mathematical perspective compared to the other tools that are constructed subjectively and  inductively.

Having issued hundreds of the Attribute Index assessments during the last six years, I can share these statistics with you:

  • Less than 1% of the recipients know their top talent (there are 78 key talents)
  • 98.4% do not know their top 3 talents
  • 97.9% know one of their lower 3 talents
  • 99.1% rate the overall accuracy of the assessment at least an 8 on a scale of 1-10 with one being low and 10 being high
  • Only two recipients believed the Attribute Index to be “hogwash” [ I cleaned this comment up. 🙂 ]

What is even better is that I can coach from this tool from one to four months.  However what I do is to bring in a new assessment each of the next 3 months if the client is still engaged. This provides a balanced perspective as human beings are not just one dimensional.

Within the debriefing process (60-90 minutes), the Attribute Index creates powerful emotional responses. I have witnessed everything from tears, smiles to sighs of relief. And I consistently hear something like this in almost all engagements:

“I cannot believe that those 2 pages of lists provided such depth and breath of  information about me.”

When my clients begin to have clarity about what they truly do well and recognize in most cases they had been undervaluing their own talents, this provides the needed support as they move forward.  This recognition is probably the single most important reason why I love the Attribute Index because until we know, truly know where we are, we cannot begin to forge a path to where we want to be.

If you would like to read more about this performance appraisal tool, you can find read more on this page on my website.

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Stopping Before Starting The Pathway to Excellence

The pathway to excellence is not a straight line or a smooth one. This is a continual journey that truly never ends.

pathway-to-excellenceIn the rush to walk this pathway to excellence many individuals and organizations fail the first step of stopping.

Now sometimes business leadership believes it has stopped. The reality is those in charge probably slowed down and did not come to a complete stop.

Working with hundreds of individuals I know this to be true because of this one action oversight – assess.

How can anyone be it an individual or an organization walk the pathway to excellence without firmly knowing who he, she or it is?

Yes to assess takes time and time is money. Yet to begin a pathway to excellence without investing the time to assess is more often than not results in spending money and not investing money.

A good individual or organizational assessment is an investment in the past, present and future. By understanding what has happened in the past and what is currently happening right now provides greater clarity as how to take the right actions in the future.

If your business leadership is considering implementing some strategic initiative, some significant change to yourself or  your organization, take the time to truly stop before you start walking the pathway to excellence.

P.S. The Attribute Index assess individuals while the DIALOG assess organizations.

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Gushing Water Hydrants Versus Dripping Faucets Where is Your SMB Focus?

The gushing water hydrants is usually the SMB focus for those in business leadership or management roles.  These problems cannot be ignored.  However from my experience in working with SMB organizations and even SOHO entrepreneurs, the real long term damage is from the dripping faucets that are not often seen or ignored because they are viewed as small, insignificant problems compared to the gushing water hydrants.

SMB-focusAdditionally, many SMB consultants to sales coaches focus on the gushing water hydrants and also ignore the dripping faucets.This limited focus can be very detrimental to the long term organizational health for the SMB.

For example, poor communication is a SMB focus. This problem is a gushing water hydrant because it is very visible. So solutions are crafted from executive coaching to some teamwork development to improve the problem of poor communication. Yet, the dripping faucets of inadequate or outdated policies to misalignment between strategies, structure, processes, rewards and systems continue to drip drops of water (think profits).

Poor communication is just one example of SMB focus. There are countless examples I have encountered where the rush to stop the gushing water hydrants ignore the constant drip, drip, drip of the many faucets within the SMB organization.

To identify the dripping faucets may begin with an assessment such as a customer loyalty walk to individual performance assessments like the Attribute Index, the DISC Index or the Values Index. Additionally a comprehensive organizational assessment such as DIALOG may help to identify all the dripping faucets for any SMB.

To increase profits, raise revenue, create a culture of high performance and improve the organizational health of your SMB begins by uniting the people (talents) and operations (management). This approach does suggest looking beyond the gushing water hydrants and to those drips, drips, drips that are truly draining your profits, your people and your operations.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith trail blazes through conventional learning and business practices by advancing a heuristic approach for those forward thinking leaders and SMB who want to end the repetitive problems created by the existing silos of people (talent) and operations (management). What differentiates her organizational health approach are these 3 key values: strategic thinking; proven processes and tools and connectivity. If you are tired of those costly and repetitive problems, then consider giving Leanne Hoagland-Smith a call at 219.759.5601 CST.

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