Why do some businesses succeed, but most don’t, except for average, middle-of-the-pack results?

By Kent Mulkey

Why do some businesses succeed, but most don’t, except for average, middle-of-the-pack results?  Management experts, people who write books and even Shamans espouse a host of theories: luck, a miracle, being in the right place at the right time, a strong economy, possessing a leader like Steve Jobs, being flush with capital or even Jupiter aligning with Mars.

This week I am finishing up a two-year stint as an executive director with a senior housing organization where our team created unprecedented success: 99% occupancy (up from 85%), 15% employee turnover (down from 43%), double the net margin results from the prior year, 90% occupancy in one housing sector where the local market is averaging 85%, and a significant uptick in overall customer satisfaction.

Here are ten key habits that fueled us to blow the roof off our goals:

  1. We moved slower than faster. The panic had to stop! We didn’t set out to create a revolution, but rather an evolution.

  2. We treated our employees with respect. Threats of termination stopped, we related to our folks as volunteers and thanked them for coming to work every day.

  3. We stopped trying to convince our prospective customers to buy and instead guided them toward a self-motivated decision to entrust us with their lives.

  4. We courted people who applied to work for us by thanking them for applying (we knew how tight the labor market is), introducing them to various members of the team, and took time to train them to do their job.

  5. When a customer concern could be solved within five minutes, we took care of it on the spot. It saved a lot of headaches for us and unhappiness for our customers down the road.

  6. We let the Laws of Nature work for us – change and growth take time. If you don’t believe me, go ask a Farmer.

  7. We let our financial results tell a story without being the story. By doing the right things, financial success would come.

  8. We stopped to celebrate small gains along the way, recognizing individuals and work units that did extraordinary things.

  9. We did it together. My role was to ensure that a good team was put on the field with the freedom to express their gifts and talents. There were no all-stars.

  10. We stayed within our circle of competence. As Mr. Miyagi said in Karate Kid, it’s not how much you know, it’s how well you know it. 

For further reading, look to The 4 Disciplines of Execution, Together is Better, Everybody Matters, The Stupidity Paradox, Trust Factor, You Are A Badass, and Why We Do What We Do.

Email me at [email protected].