As a business owner, you’re never truly done learning or improving. Even if you’ve found a pretty solid way of operating and achieving your goals, there are always small (or big) refinements you can make to optimize your processes.
Often, improvements stem from honest, meaningful conversations with your internal and external stakeholders about what you can be doing better. To help you begin having these “breakthrough conversations,” we asked a panel of Forbes Business Council members how they do this within their own businesses. Here is what they said:
1. Prioritize Constant Communication
Trending client experiences and emotions are felt the soonest in groups that are closest. Weekly one-on-ones, daily meetings, informal lunches, team outings and the occasional happy hour all help provide an environment where you can be accessible as a mentor. When it comes to hitting company goals, your front line can be the best resource, so it’s crucial to make time for conversation. – Sterling Douglass, Chowly, Inc.
2. Empathize With Other Stakeholders And Their Perspectives
Breakthrough or watershed conversations can be complex and require the ability to look at a situation from the perspective of all stakeholders—not only those on your own team, but those of a client or strategic partner. Our ability to place ourselves in another party’s position, remaining open to many ways of thinking, produce the best solutions to achieve objectives or overcome obstacles. – Amy Hall, Caton Commercial Real Estate Group
3. Regularly Check In On Objectives And Key Results
Individual OKRs should be developed based on the company’s top level OKRs and made publicly visible. This ensures alignment and accountability at every level in your organization. Have regular check-ins on key results to always be pushing toward a stretch goal. – Noah Mishkin, CraftJack, Inc.
4. Practice An Open-Door Policy
It’s imperative to practice an open-door policy in an office setting that promotes honest, direct and unmerciful transparency. This way, everyone in the company is unified towards a common goal and knows, with clarity and authenticity, that they are part of the company’s inertia and success. Breakthrough conversations should therefore be both constant and amorphous. – Darren Guccione, Keeper Security
5. Measure Everything
One of the ways I have breakthrough conversations with clients or employees is by tracking the progress up to that point. You need to know where you are at in the process. The way I track the progress is in note form within the technology we use to interact with that individual. For sales, it is CRM; for employees, it is our HRIS system. You can’t optimize what you can’t track. – Michael Mayes, Quantum 9 Inc.
6. Promote A Culture Of Transparent Feedback
It begins by creating an atmosphere of openness and transparency, which is a two-way street. Leaders and managers should provide direct, meaningful, respectful feedback on an ongoing basis and expect the same from those they manage. This sets the stage for constructive conversations aimed at better operations, improved teamwork and enhanced work quality. It also results in a more engaged culture. – Bernie Dyme, Perspectives Ltd
7. Set And Track Goals, But Be Flexible Enough To Pivot When Needed
Our team gets together annually to recap the year and set company objectives for the following one. We then take these big ideas and break them down into actionable goals for each department. We monitor progress on a quarterly basis to stay on track and to re-evaluate our goals if needed. We have found flexibility and pivoting objectives when required is key to the overall success of the company. – Meganne Wecker, Skyline Furniture Mfg
8. Conquer Your Fear Of Confrontation
Don’t be afraid to face confrontation and potentially upset those who don’t agree with your assessment or opinion of an outcome. If you’re transparent and honest about expectations from the beginning, there should be less reason for hurt egos or feelings. Call a failure what it is: a failure. Learning from it as a team is key to moving on. That takes maturity with people, teams and businesses. – Amy Bourne, Brad’s Deals