The pandemic came. It was supposed to leave. It’s likely here to stay, and so is the age of disruption. In an age of predictable uncertainty, how can you confidently build a business plan for success?
I think I’m discovering how through my children.
We have seven kids and are about to hit the tipping point where more of them will be out of our nest than in it. As with all families, each of our children are different. But they share common angst as they get ready to leave the house: “I don’t even know what I want to be when I grow up yet. And I don’t know how to succeed in a brave new world of business.”
My short answer is, “Neither do I!”
There is no telling where the business journey will take you; – I’m a first-hand example of that. What I do now is not something I had never planned (or even dreamt of) back in my college or early career days. Who would or could have planned for a search firm for churches and faith-based groups? That didn’t even exist when we started back in 2008.
My advice to my kids is a three fold plan based on what I’m seeing work for our business. I tell my kids, “If you will do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it, and at the price that everyone agrees to at the beginning, you will be in the top 5% of whatever career or business you choose.”
Each of these things ties back to one core value that I think is vital for anyone in the workplace: a work ethic of integrity. And each is exceedingly rare. Delivering what you say you will deliver is unfortunately rare in our world, and the pandemic has exacerbated the problem of “on time and done right delivery” for everyone. I don’t know if we have felt that more acutely than we have in 2021 and 2022 with supply chain issues and labor shortages. Some hear this as a crisis. I see it as a fantastic opportunity for you to stand out among the crowd. Here are some thoughts on this one simple piece of advice:
Keep your word – do what you say you’ll do.
One of the most important qualities you can develop as a business, or even as a team member in your company, is integrity. Following through with what you say you’re going to do builds trust with your clients, employees, and colleagues, develops your own sense of ownership and responsibility in your role, and opens doors for future opportunities. If your clients and employees genuinely believe that you will deliver what you promise, they’ll be much more likely to want to work with you in the future. And this could also have long term effects – it’s a great thing to have a reference that can vouch for you without hesitation in any future reference check or recommendation letter. More than that – research shows that being able to keep a promise is a practiced skill – and not necessarily one that everyone has in the workplace. When survey participants were asked what their CEO could do better, 72% of them answered: “do a better job of keeping your promises.” It’s clear that if you develop this as a commitment and a habit, you’ll earn the trust and respect of your peers much faster and keep it for longer.
Do it when you say you will do it.
After interviewing over 20,000 executives in my search work, I am amazed at how many people show up late for an interview! People just aren’t on time, and businesses don’t deliver on time. Want to stand out in a post pandemic world? Deliver on time. Research shows that deadlines can help curb the temptation to procrastinate. Having deadlines on goals also have the added benefit of serving as a “pre-commitment device,” meaning a deadline turns into an actionable tool for you to transform abstract ideas into actual work and progress. Practice keeping a good schedule on your assignments at work and you’ll likely see the benefits in your business, your job, and your personal professional development.
Underpromise, but overdeliver – deliver work on the previously agreed on terms.
The first time I did a remodeling project and a wise friend told me: “Just know that it will take longer and cost more than you planned.” Several building projects later, I’m sad to say he was right. Most people don’t deliver at the price they originally quoted. If you deliver at the price you quoted, you are in the minority!
Success in business isn’t rocket science.
It’s actually pretty simple. People aren’t 100% dependable- that is one thing you can depend on! Add to that axiom the reality that the world is more unpredictable than ever, and you have a recipe for success: be reliable, and you’re among the rare few. That means doing what you say you’re going to do, on the schedule you promised, and at the price, you quoted. That’s the foolproof formula for getting ahead.
I’m not sure where my kids will end up. But the more I study winning businesses, the more I believe in my threefold plan. If they follow through, I’m guessing they will be at the top of their industry.
You can too.