I had the honor of presenting at one of my client’s annual meetings last week and I enjoyed it a lot. I say, ‘had the honor’ because I was the only ‘outsider’ invited to their meeting – everyone else was an internal asset, i.e., employee and senior manager of the company.

The major purposes of this meeting were to:

  • Celebrate the good year they had just completed
  • Discuss where they could improve for the current year.

I was also fortunate to be allowed to sit in on other parts of their meeting and get a better understanding of different parts of their business. And through listening in I was able to get a sense of five key themes that each presenter talked about in one way or another. And since this particular client is #1 in the country in their industry, maybe your company could benefit from focusing more on these themes also.

Measure (Everything)

Most successful businesses have a few KPIs (key performance indicators) that they track. This company measures EVERYTHING! Not a single senior manager got up to present who couldn’t show (for their area of the business) objective, measurable data explaining where they were versus goals – and how they got there.

Cost Containment

Where are your costs coming from, and how can you reduce them? Because of the size of this company, they negotiate some really good deals with their vendors. But they don’t stop with the negotiation, they continue to search for ways to take additional costs out of their production processes. And because of the size of the company, even small percentage decreases can result in huge total dollar savings.

Continuous Improvement

At one point in the meeting one of the Top 4 corporate officers of the company spoke about some of the review meetings he regularly sits in on. He made the comment, “And just because you got a thumbs-up at last week’s status review meeting doesn’t mean you get a pass in this week’s meeting”. And every presenter at our meeting either presented their plans for improvement in their area of responsibility or asked the other attendees for ideas about how they could improve in their area.

Connect the Dots

Not only did everyone have a thorough understanding of how things were going in their area, but also an understanding of how the results from their team impacted the overall company goals and results. And in a publicly-traded company where you are always being judged by, ‘what have you done for me lately?’, this understanding is key for delivering financial results.

People

Another one of the Top 4 executives in attendance made some closing comments about the growth plans for the coming year, and he said that in spite of the huge volume of products they purchase from vendors to make their finished products, their biggest assets are still the people who make it all work. And then he said the company’s ‘biggest bottleneck to future growth is people’ – or being able to find and keep enough good people.

Summary

Now, the really fun part of the meeting (for me, at least) was that I was the next to last speaker, so I was able to relate our work for this client to all 5 of these key themes. Although what I do for them focuses on the people side, and specifically (and objectively) on how well people fit their jobs, I was able to connect the dots and show them how they can get continuous productivity improvement from their people through better measurements and tools.

Give us a call if you would like to see if we can help your company in similar ways.

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