Ask yourself this: If a company has a strategy to improve customer loyalty; will they do everything they can to succeed? It is easy to assume they would, no company develops strategies just to watch them fail. However, if this is the case, why, according to a Fortune survey, are only 82% of CEOs confident about their companies’ ability to execute their strategies? Why is it that, only 27% of the time the workload of the employees is considered when leadership is developing these strategies? Why can only 5% of managers really articulate their company’s strategy? According to change guru Kotter, 70-75% of change efforts don’t work or meet expectations.

One company for example, recently revealed it has 100 initiatives to achieve its customer loyalty strategy. What are the odds that this company will make progress and meet or surpass their goals? These statistics show a troubling trend of strategic failure by upper-management that has become all too common today. Fortunately, through applying four key principles of execution it is possible to not only avoid errors in strategic implementation, but also improve your leadership skills and build a solid knowledge base upon which the rest of your team will thrive.

Businesses everywhere are plagued by the catch-22 of developing grand strategies only to flounder in their attempts to execute them. These types of failures typically occur for many reasons including:

  • Lack of clear goals and planning
  • Focus on technology not people
  • Lack of buy-in
  • Resistance to change
  • Too many priorities
  • No accountability for results
  • Lack of capability in the team or resources
  • Poor on-going communication
  • Strategy and culture not aligned
  • Rewards not tied to success

Recently, a large retailer fell victim to this. Ignoring advice to avoid countless roadblocks they pursued a flawed customer-focused strategy for too long. These roadblocks ended up paralyzing and demoralizing employees, derailing implementation and yielding negative results for the company as a whole. As a result, the company lost $2 billion and the company president lost his job. This type of occurrence happens frequently and costs companies millions of dollars due to lower productivity. Now ask yourself, what can you do as a manager to overcome these types of issues and succeed?

The first step towards first class service and success starts with the four key principles of execution:  Clarity, Competence, Commitment and Consistency. Together, they can help you lead your team to successful strategy implementation as well as help you avoid potential avenues for failure. With these principles, no matter what level you are in an organization you will stand out as a leader.

Once you know your strategy, clearly define your goals and plans. Include your team in this process; more collaboration yields better ideas and more buy-in. Review them with your boss for additional input and confirmation. Create individual plans for each employee. Then, track results and discuss these with your team regularly. Research indicates 80% of performance issues are because of a lack of clear expectations and goals.

Ensure that your team can succeed by equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need.  Schedule regular, ongoing training and coaching sessions to support them. Partner with your HR team for some parts and do the rest yourself by enhancing your own knowledge and skills.  ‘Best in Class’ managers deliver 50-60 hours or more of training to their teams every year.  They pair training with one-on-one sessions at least monthly with each employee. Guess what? Their employees outperform everyone else!

You have to work at gaining your team’s belief and trust in your strategy implementation techniques. It starts with you being a better leader. Your team needs to know that you can lead them to greater success. After including them in your planning, give them the credit and recognition for a job well done. Follow through on your commitments. Make yourself readily available, show that you care about each person’s success on the job, and learn to listen to your team.  These types of behaviors will help you build a team that will go the extra mile for you.

Finally, day-in and day-out, you must execute.  Regarding each of the principles it means, for example:

  • Clarity: Review and adapt goals for more effectiveness on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • Competence: Training and coaching needs to be done on a regular schedule all year-long.
  • Commitment: Create a work climate and successful teamwork by doing business with integrity and caring attitude.

Finally, remember these words, “Leadership consistency means following a good plan even when it is inconvenient and hard. And, as you do, raising your performance to another level of effectiveness.” Strategies aren’t all destined to fail, through utilizing these four key principles you will be able to avoid failure and help lay the groundwork for future for a successful customer experience improvement process.

Do you want to enhance your career by increasing the customer experience of your organization today? Download our complimentary guide:

Do you want to enhance your leadership skills to drive customer-centered behaviors in employees? If so, check out Rick’s new book,