Keynote speaker tells ISPA Industry Conference attendees the keys to business success are in their own backyard
Inspired by his business book of the same name, John Spence’s “Awesomely Simple” keynote at the International Sleep Products Association’s 2015 Industry Conference March 4-5 in St. Petersburg, Florida, offered this important takeaway—for business success, companies must focus on internal, not external, innovation—and much of that innovation relates to culture and employees.
“Internally, are your departments delivering excellent service to each other?” the business trainer asked. “The No. 1 factor in increasing the level of highly satisfied and engaged customers in your business is the level of highly satisfied and engaged employees in your business.”
Acquiring and retaining top talent needs to be a major strategic objective, Spence said. Leaders should be looking, even when they are not hiring, so that they “have a very deep bench” of talent to call on when the time is right.
To retain the best employees, you need a winning company culture, one in which “people smile as much when they come in in the morning as when they leave at the end of the day.”
Attracting this caliber of employees revolves around “atmosphere issues that don’t cost you a penny,” Spence said. His findings are derived from research on how to attract top talent. The list is specific because “ambiguity builds mediocrity”:
- Fair, comparable pay
- Challenging, meaningful work
- A winning company culture
- Cool people—I feel surrounded by friends.
- Personal and professional growth—Can I see myself at this store five years from now?
- Leadership—I want to work for a leader I admire and like, who is honest, supportive, inspiring, visionary and competent.
- Freedom—Don’t undermine my autonomy by micromanaging me.
- Pride—I want to be able to take pride in the store I work for.
Spence offers specific guidelines for the final point. Give genuine, honest praise once every seven days to create a culture of doing things right at your company. Hold employees accountable, but praise them and celebrate their successes.
In “the new normal,” companies need “nimbleosity”—they must be “nimble with velocity.” It’s timely advice for the sleep products category, which faces a number of issues, from environmental and regulatory matters to increased competition and consolidation, Spence said.
He recommended that businesses uncover that one special, compelling element they own, that no one else can copy—“the one thing that in your ideal customer’s eyes is the ‘moment of truth’.”