What does it take to build a winning team? Some say the key component is the willingness of people to collaborate and work hard, to improve the net sum of the parts. Others say it takes great leaders ‒ who don’t necessarily have ownership or management titles. The one essential ingredient that nearly everyone agrees is required to construct, grow and sustain successful teams is commitment.
Think of it as a pledge among co-workers. Great teams inspire their members, with each feeling obligated to give a 100% effort and dedicate themselves to doing the right thing, even when no one is looking. Without that commitment, timelines tend to slip, as does their performance. Successful outcomes require dedicated efforts.
Most MSPs not only feel obligated to succeed for their own satisfaction but know that their families, employees and other partners and investors may be counting on them as well.
Think of it this way. The NFL has 32 teams that compete for a chance to make it to the Super Bowl each year, and only one walks away with the ultimate prize ̶ the Vince Lombardi Trophy. And while it’s easy to say they all have the same shot at winning it all, those who follow sports know some owners fail to grasp the concept. They may be paying closer attention to the revenue side of the business, selling more beer and hotdogs, than putting people of great character with a hunger for victory on the field.
Future-minded owners hire successful coaches and bring in players with that passion. Everyone abides by the winning philosophy, from the strength and conditioning personnel all the way up to the general managers. They hold each other accountable and improve their game execution until they get it right.
IT firms should take a similar approach, though the “big game” may look a lot different. It could involve signing a major client or implementing the final step in a major business transformation plan. Either way, a win is a win, and MSPs, vendors and other channel professionals should be as committed to winning in their organizations as those charged with leading the four remaining NFL playoff teams.
Sounds easy, right? Adding a phrase or two in the company business plans about “commitment” requires little effort, but making those words meaningful can be downright expensive. For example, if someone in your company promises something will be done for a client or a partner, make sure it happens. Whether they committed to implementing a new email solution by a specific date or agreed to get rid of a complicated, yet unnecessary step in the onboarding process, follow through on their commitment. Their word is your word.
More important is the long-term commitment to building a successful business, with happy employees, partners and investors. It is a rather broad term that can be interpreted differently by each constituency. All promises, whether implicit or implied, should always be taken seriously and kept when at all possible. That includes commitments to:
• Your customers/ partners: a primary focus for any channel business should be on fortitude, especially when it comes to fulfilling the assurances, terms, and conditions of contracts. If you share upcoming feature details or outline your services roadmap based on a real need they express, you must keep them in the loop if issues arise that delay or prevent them from happening. Communication is key. They may still leave, but if you do everything possible to keep them in the loop and the issues are too insurmountable to rectify, you may still earn their admiration (and a chance to win back their business later).
• Employees: ensure your HR strategies are solid. If your company is generous and committed to the welfare of its team members, recruitment and retention will be so much easier. That goes beyond providing fair hours and wages. Your corporate strategy should include an employee-first philosophy (equal to, if not above customers) that emphasizes their value to the organization. List their rights in your HR handbook, and make sure each feels empowered to help move the organization forward. Easier said than done, but every employer should take time each week (or day) to assess their commitment to their most valued asset. If employee assessments slide or firms fail to reward their contributions, job satisfaction levels often diminish, and loyalty disappears. When you show a commitment and follow through on promises, team members will typically be more productive and strive to do better.
• Investors/ community: Does your company have a reputation as a performer and good corporate citizen? Trust takes time and, in most cases, requires the successful fulfillment of many promises. One activity at a time with consistently positive results. Your word becomes an asset when team members keep their commitments. In the event, something does go wrong, and you promise to rectify the situation quickly (by a particular point in time), will they believe you? Past performance typically dictates the answer. Those who fulfill their obligations to the community and their investors are more likely to get a little leeway.
That’s what commitment becomes: a virtually bankable asset your company must earn every day. It helps teams become winners, and companies increase profitability and customer satisfaction.
Always follow through on your obligations to constituents, including employees, customers, and your partners, as well as local community leaders. If your firm follows through on its commitments, the chances of winning the trust, admiration, and, of course, new business will increase substantially.