Want to Know the Secret Behind Winning?

Have you noticed some people and teams are perennial winners? Do you think it is by accident or luck? Do you think they went to hear a motivational speaker give them a pep talk? I don’t think so.

My father was a sales manager. Many years ago he told me the secret to successful selling. It was simple: know your product, know your customer and know what your competition is doing. Since then I have studied winners — successful people and organizations. Everyone who wins does it their own way, but they all share what pop told me.

The two most popular management topics are leadership and engagement. I would suggest that before you launch a leadership development program or an engagement project you learn how to train to win. There are three main steps to get you started.

Step one: Where are we now?
Before you can train to win, you must assess your situation All solid analytic programs start at this same point. We should ask two types of questions.

• What is happening outside that is impacting our organization now and in the near future? What is occurring around the economy, our customers, our competition, technology, politics and regulations, and other relevant macro forces?

• What is our current internal state? Are our vision, culture and brand integrated and consistent? How are our leadership and our employee capabilities and commitment as we look to the future? How strong are our financials? The answers to those questions tell us where we are in the marketplace. Is there something we have to fix before we can be more successful; before we can win?

Step two: Where do we want to be?
This is our target or goal. People sometimes confuse a goal with a hope. For example, we want to have the highest market capitalization in our industry. Great idea, but what does that imply? Should we constantly look at the financials of our competitors and try to trump them? Should we do whatever it takes to grow revenue and profits over the long term?

We might be able to buy revenue through acquisitions, but will that raise our stock price? If we want to win we have to train ourselves to be the most efficient and effective company under all conditions in the industry. Look at sports teams. The richest franchises often win their divisions, but they don’t always win the championship.

Step three: What will it take to get there?
For nearly 20 years the most successful pro football teams were Dallas and San Francisco. While big market teams in New York and Chicago won three Super Bowls between them, Dallas and San Francisco won eight because they built winning systems.

Likewise, the famous “Moneyball” story showed how, despite being in one of the poorer markets, the Oakland baseball team won by transforming its system. What does your winning system require?

HR can become the business partner it claims it wants to be if it elevates its role from transaction to transformation. This is where organizational analysis and employee development come in.

Transaction is about doing basically the same thing day after day. Keeping the company running is valuable, but it won’t help achieve future winning goals. The Business Dictionary defines transformation in an organizational context as “a process of profound and radical change that orients an organization in a new direction and takes it to an entirely different level of effectiveness.”

That’s what it takes to be a consistent winner in the 21st century.

If HR wants a role as a transformation partner it has to do what it wants the organization to do: adopt the three-step winning process for itself. Remember: Where are we now? Where do we want to be? What will it take to get there?

If we want to be winners we need to shift our attention from being transaction specialists and become transformation experts. I have seen HR functions train winners within their organizations while they were training themselves to be winners. It is a matter of mindset and answering the three questions.