It’s a new year, and time to make resolutions for changing your ways in 2019 to achieve both personal and professional goals. Whether you’re a CEO, a member of the C-suite, a mid-level manager, or an individual contributor, two simple New Year’s resolutions will make 2019 a business game changer.
Resolution 1: Understand Your Customers Like An Outsider
- Every week, set aside your corporate interests (increasing sales, raising prices, etc.) and become an outsider. Take time to listen to and observe customers. Engage – really engage – with them about their business and priorities. Use fresh eyes to understand how customers define success and what they value most.
- Gain a clear understanding of how your product or service contributes to their success. Listen when you get feedback about your product or service. Probe to understand your product from their perspective. Don’t make excuses or explain yourself; simply accept the client’s point of view. Understanding and embracing their feedback doesn’t commit you to act on it unless it makes sense for your business.
- Imagine ways you could better contribute to their success and explore those opportunities with customers over time. Demonstrate that you are invested in their success. When they feel you understand their business and support their success, they’ll become vested in your success. This new relationship will uncover new ways to better serve their needs and drive profitable growth for your business.
For an example of how understanding your customers like an outsider can drive value for your business, check out this podcast by Reid Hoffman.
Resolution 2: Understand Your Employees Like An Insider
- Take time each week to better understand employees. Become an insider by getting to know what it’s like to work in your company. What is the best part of the work? What are the biggest obstacles? What would make it a better place? Listen to employees, learn from them, and involve them in problem-solving when possible.
- Treat employees as individuals. Get to know their ambitions – at work and in life – and explore ways to help them be successful. Supporting employees’ goals often creates a win for them and a win for the business.
- Help employees gain knowledge of the business, the company’s goals, and their role in corporate success. Explain difficult decisions and tradeoffs made by leadership. Engaging with them as openly and honestly as possible demonstrates they are valued members of the team and provides you rich insight into attracting and retaining the best talent possible.
If you feel out of practice when it comes to active listening, Harvard Business Review has some useful tips that apply regardless of your role in the organization.
By understanding your customers like an outsider and your employees like an insider, you’ll be well-positioned to make 2019 a game-changer for you and your business. As the year goes on, you’ll be amazed by the insight you collect and the authentic relationships you build. Both will bear fruit in 2019 and for many years to come.