LSA Global Insights Newsletter

September 22, 2018

8 Reasons Leaders Need 360 Feedback

wire human figure

It is difficult to improve performance without feedback about what's working, and what's not.

360-degree feedback, a formal, structured process for soliciting feedback from coworkers, has grown in popularity. Done right, 360-degree feedback provides valuable insights that individuals typically cannot gain on their own. Not long ago, however, critics were calling 360-degree feedback a "performance-reviewing fad." 

Today, some estimates suggest 90% of US employers rely on 360 evaluations -though not all successfully. Let's start with why 360 feedback works and when it fails.

Why 360-Degree Feedback Works
Unfortunately, our own perceptions of ourselves are rarely accurate or predictive. Leaders need feedback from those around them (typically their boss, peers, direct reports, and others in the organization) if they want to gain an accurate picture of their strengths and weaknesses.  

Employers typically rely on 360-degree feedback to diagnose a variety of organizational issues, including turnover, productivity dips, lackluster morale, and stagnant growth. The idea behind 360-degree feedback is to collect feedback from different points of view including colleagues, supervisors, subordinates, partners, and clients. 

Done right, 360-degree feedback allows a person to get something that is often difficult to acquire - increased self-knowledge about how their behavior is viewed by those around them. This helps to shed a constructive light on key strengths, relevant weaknesses and potential blind spots. The process itself can help improve trust, communication, team development, career development, performance management, and self-awareness - a critical component to effective leadership and team work.

When 360-Degree Feedback Fails
For those of us with experience in 360-degree feedback, we have painfully learned that if 360-degree feedback isn't carefully executed and followed up on, it can do more harm than good to individuals, teams and those charged with administering and coaching to the feedback. 

Done wrong, 360-degree feedback can create problems when people are:  
  • Not getting feedback from at least 8-10 raters to maximize the reliability of the feedback
  • Unprepared or ill-equipped to hear and act upon candid feedback 
  • Left to sort through the feedback on their own without experienced support, context or a plan for improvement 
  • Not held accountable to follow-up actions to improve behaviors
8 Reasons Leaders Need 360 Feedback
Done right, however, 360-degree feedback offers powerful advantages to leaders looking to raise their level of performance.


Voice of the Customer
"I continue to be impressed by the level of leadership expertise and the quality of advice that LSA has to offer. What a smart and client-centric group of great people who really know how to help assess and develop high performing leaders."
Tracy Esposito | Director | Zynga

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Leadership Toolkit

looking through binoculars

Effective leaders who align their culture and talent with their strategy grow revenues 58% faster, are 72% more profitable, retain customers 2.23-to-1, and engage employees 16.8-to-1.

They outperform their peers by creating organizational alignment for growth. They take care of the business and their people by:
  • Ensuring strategic clarity
  • Building high performance cultures
  • Differentiating top talent
Get field-tested tools to outperform your peers.



About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


August 26, 2018

3 Ways to Protect and Grow Your Major Accounts


We define major accounts as the critical few client accounts (typically between 5 and 20 depending upon your sales model) that are the most important to you and your company both now and into the future.

While each go-to-market sales strategy has a unique flavor, the criteria typically fall into two main categories:
  • Financial Significance
  • Strategic Significance
Financial Significance
Financially significant accounts represent substantial financial value in terms of revenue, gross margin or profit to the sales person, the sales team or the company. In general, your major accounts should be 20% of your client base and provide 80% of the financial value.

Strategic Significance
Strategically significant accounts signify vital strategic importance in terms of providing you with marquee brand recognition, the ability to create valuable new capabilities, or the opportunity to intelligently expand into desirable new markets, geographies or verticals. 

While major accounts take a considerable investment of time and energy, the payoffs can be huge. When properly managed, major accounts can anchor your business through thick and through thin.

The Benefits of Major Account Management
While some companies worry that higher levels of investments in major accounts will decrease gross margins, recent research by Kapta and Harvard Business Review found major accounts on average:
  • Are 60% more likely to close than a new client
  • Spend 33% more than new customers
  • Have shorter sales cycles
  • Decrease marketing and sales costs by six to seven times
  • Have 20% higher customer satisfaction scores
  • Generate 15% greater profits and revenue
How to Protect and Grow Your Major Accounts
Once you define your major accounts and believe in the benefit of going after them, it is time to create a clear and compelling plan to achieve lasting and mutually beneficial relationships. 

If you truly want to protect and grow your strategic accounts, follow these three field-tested best practices.


Voice of the Customer
"LSA's ability to get a group of 20+ executives from around the globe on the same page, push their thinking to new heights, and ensure an executable plan was excellent. I would recommend LSA to anyone looking to take their leaders and sales execution to the next level."
Rob Sturgeon | Executive Vice President | ServiceSource

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Sales Health Check to See Where You Stand


Sales leaders who align their sales culture and talent with their sales strategy grow revenues 58% faster and are 72% more profitable.

If you would like to know how you stack up to leading sales organizations in the following sales best practice areas, then this sales health check is for you:
  • Sales Strategy and Planning
  • Inside Sales and Referral Selling
  • Communicating and Sales Presentations
  • Executive Selling
  • Selling Solutions 
  • Sales Negotiations.
The assessment should take 5 minutes to complete. 
 

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


July 29, 2018

7 Immediate Management Actions to Create Team Alignment


Your employees may have their oars in the water, but do they know what direction the boat is headed?

And if so, do they understand how their oars can best move the team toward its goal? 

Successful managers know that team alignment is critical. Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing teams. And our annual Best Places to Work engagement research confirms that three "Alignment with Goals" questions matter most for managerial effectiveness. 

3 Questions Matter Most
In terms of goal alignment, the most effective managers have employees that rate the following three questions higher than their lower performing peers: 
  • "I understand the company's plans for future success." 
  • "I know how I fit into the company's future plans." 
  • "I understand how my job helps the organization achieve success."   
As you can imagine, getting consistently high scores on these questions is not always easy. But it is worth it. Employees, who rate these questions higher, perform better in terms of four key managerial effectiveness metrics.

4 Important Management Metrics

Employee Relations
 
Bad managers exacerbate employee relations problems while effective managers decrease issues, claims and lawsuits. This is not a trivial matter. The number of claims by employees increased by 2000% from 1969 to 1994 and increased by 70% between 1992 and 2003.

Employee Performance
Bad managers negatively impact financial health. Companies with higher performing managers realize a 48% increase in profitability and a 20% gain in performance.

Employee Engagement and Retention
Bad managers negatively impact employee engagement and retention. Companies with higher performing managers realize a 30% increase in employee engagement scores and a 19% decrease in turnover. 

Customer Engagement
Bad customer-facing managers negatively impact customer engagement. Companies with higher performing managers realize a 17% increase in customer engagement scores. 

7 Management Actions to Increase Alignment
We have identified seven concrete actions your managers can take to improve alignment with goals to improve performance, engagement and retention.

Voice of the Customer

"LSA's ability to get a group of 20+ executives from around the globe on the same page, push their thinking to new heights, and ensure an executable plan was excellent. I would recommend LSA to anyone looking to take their leaders and execution to the next level."
Rob Sturgeon | Executive Vice President | ServiceSource

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


The Key to Unlocking Better Managers


Effective managers create organizational alignment by ensuring strategic clarity, building high performance cultures and differentiating top talent.
  • At a strategic level, good managers set the right course by creating clear goals, roles, success metrics and career paths. 
  • At a cultural level, good managers commit to making it a great place to work and value people as their most important resource while ensuring that their direct reports are held accountable and recognized for their contributions. 
  • At a talent level, good managers consistently attract, develop, engage and retain top talent that fits.
 

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


June 23, 2018

Surprising Strategy Communications Research for Leadership Teams

graphic of a man totally confused by too many messages

Strategy communications can make or break a company's ability to execute their plans.
Strategy communications are about creating employee understanding, belief and cohesion.  Being clear and consistent with strategy communications pays big dividends to the people AND to the business

Why Effective Strategy Communications Matter to the Business
Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations in terms of:
  • Revenue growth
  • Profitability
  • Customer loyalty
  • Employee engagement
Why Effective Strategy Communications Matter to Employees
Our employee engagement data over the last three years shows that "employees trusting that leaders have set the right strategic course" has the second highest correlation to employee engagement right after leadership's perceived "commitment to making it a great place to work."
Additionally, employees tell us that it is difficult and frustrating to be expected to help move a strategic plan forward unless they fully understand and buy-into the:
  • Unique role that they play
  • Specific contribution that they make
  • Critical few reasons why the strategy will make them, their team and the company successful
Strategy Communications Research
Research by Harvard turned up some rather surprising data.  After analyzing over 60,000 survey responses, they expected to find that strategy was best understood and accepted by:
  • Higher-level employees
  • Those who were generally content with their compensation
  • Employees who had a positive view of their organization
And the results bore out those anticipated results. It makes sense to us that those who are more involved in creating the strategy would better understand and accept it. It also makes sense that more engaged employees tend to feel more connected to the company goals.
The Surprising Part
The surprising part was that top leadership had a far greater impact and much greater direct role on how well employees "got" the strategy than their immediate supervisors. While employees still want their direct supervisors help in translating the overall strategy for their team and for their job, they want to hear more directly and early on from top leaders about overall strategies, perspectives and trends to set the stage.
The Implications for Cascading Your Strategy
What does this mean to companies embarking on a new strategy that requires focus, commitment and perseverance? It means that leadership communication strategies probably need to be adjusted. 

Instead of having senior leadership explain the strategy to upper management who then relays the strategy to middle managers who are then tasked with cascading the strategy down to the front-line, leaders should plan to play a more active role across all levels and functions.
The Bottom Line
While some may balk at such a significant investment of a leader's time, what could be more important than making sure your company understands, believes in and is fully committed to your critical few strategic plans and priorities? Invest the time to ensure your employees:
  • Clearly understand the strategic priorities and the rationale behind them
  • Can articulate how their work directly contributes to the overall success of the strategy
  • Believe the strategy will lead to successful results
  • Are committed to implementing the strategy successfully across the company



Voice of the Customer

"Having tripled in size and recently merged, LSA helped our executive team with strategic clarity to increase our level of alignment, solidify our new direction and push our agency forward. As we look to rapidly scale, the clear and actionable priorities have really set us up for success. This is exactly what we needed to get to the next level."
Matt Britton | CEO | MRY, a Publicis Groupe Company

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Strategy Health Check to See Where You Stand


Businessman looking over a cliff to the horizon

Most leadership teams are generally happy with the strategy that they have created together. Once complete, it tends to make sense, and leaders are usually excited about a renewed sense of clarity and focus.

Leaders also typically assume that people will then be able to "go make it happen."

Experience tells us, however, that there is usually a pretty big gap between a leadership team creating a strategy and actually getting people to successfully implement it across the organization.

How clear is your strategy to those who will be charged with leading AND implementing it?

The assessment should take less than 5-7 minutes to complete. All answers are confidential.




About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


May 19, 2018

7 Ways to Stress Test Your Sales Strategy

Executive overlooking the city

It is difficult to consistently meet sales targets without a clear and meaningful direction that everyone is committed to make happen.

Yet, Many Sales Strategies Fall Short
While the majority of sales leaders (83%) agree with the need for a clear and compelling sales strategy, our research shows that too many sales teams (72%) move too quickly to meet quarterly revenue targets without having a clear, believable or implementable plan. Some sales leaders say they do not have the time. Others think sales quota combined with increased pressure and hard work should be enough. 

Strategic Sales Ambiguity 
When you ask sales teams about their strategy, ambiguity reigns. Sales teams consistently rank the sales strategy as being 50% less clear than sales leadership. Unfortunately the lack of strategic sales clarity not only hampers short-term sales performance but also long-term sales team health. An unclear sales strategy blurs priorities and trade-offs for sales teams. 

Unfortunately, most sales teams have just enough of a game plan to stay in the game...but not to win it.
Strategic Sales Clarity Matters
Our organizational alignment research found that strategic sales clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations in terms of revenue growth, margin attainment, customer retention and sales team engagement. 

Organizations with higher levels of strategic sales clarity: 
  • Grow revenue 58% faster
  • Are 72% more profitable 
  • Retain customers 2.23-to-1 
  • Engage employees 16.8-to-1 
The Components of an Effective Sales Strategy
Effective sales strategies provide crystal clear alignment with the overall corporate strategy and create high levels of commitment to at least four fundamental questions: 
1.     Target Clients - What are our ideal target clients and markets where we should win 75% of the time?
2.     Unique Value Proposition - What is our unique differentiation that sets us apart from the competition in the eyes of our target buyers? 
3.     Success Metrics - How will sales success and failure be monitored, measured and rewarded? 
4.     Sales Plan - What are the critical few sales goals, roles, processes and actions that should lead to meeting or exceeding our targets? 
To succeed, sales teams and their key stakeholders must be crystal clear on sales goals (where the team is headed) and sales strategies (how it is going to get there).
 
It could be the right time for you to stress test your sales strategy.



Voice of the Customer

"We hired LSA to help ensure our sales strategy fully aligns with our business strategy to sustain our hardware business while driving high growth in software and services. LSA's ability to measure our level of strategic alignment, pinpoint areas of leverage and get the entire executive sales team to agree upon what matters most exceed our expectations. I would recommend them to any sales leader who wants to be set up for success."
Dan Dica | SVP Worldwide Sales | VASCO Data Security International 

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Sales Toolkit to Stay Above the Competition

graphic of a man with a money parachute over the city

Effective sales leaders grow revenue and profits through organizational alignment by ensuring the go-to-market sales strategy is clear, building a high performance sales culture and attracting, developing, engaging and retaining top sales talent.
  • At a strategic level, good sales leaders set the right course, create clear goals, roles, success metrics and career paths. 
  • At a cultural level, good sales leaders ensure that the sales culture is not only healthy, but 100% aligned with the sales and business strategies. 
  • At a talent level, good sales leaders consistently attract, develop, engage and retain top sales talent that fits.

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


April 28, 2018

4 Keys to Present Like a Rock Star to Senior Executives

A rock star is on stage with a wildly cheering audience

Senior Executives are one of the hardest-hitting crowds you will ever face as a presenter.

Here's what Senior Executives say that it takes to get the results you want. 

"If the first two minutes are good... I might give you five more."

What Makes Presenting to Executives So Challenging? 
We find that executive-level presentations typically have four characteristics that make them more challenging than your run-of-the-mill presentations.  

High Speed
Most executives are maddeningly time-pressed. Their schedules are jam-packed and they must make high-stakes decisions quickly. Even though you may feel you have important things to share, leaders simply don't have the time to listen to things that aren't 100% relevant to the strategic priorities they deal with.

High Expectations
Companies expect a lot from their senior executives; and senior executives expect a lot from their staff. Because of their time pressures, executives have high expectations for anyone presenting to them to be quick, clear, concise and compelling. 

High Stakes
High-powered executives make high-powered decisions and expect high-powered results. If you are presenting to an executive, the chances are that the situation, challenges and implications are visible, important and complex. 

High Level
Lastly, executives tend to work on the big picture and expect their presenters to think, speak and relate at their level...that is, until they have a detailed question related to one of your high level points. Stay at thirty thousand feet but be prepared to duck below the clouds to answer specific questions. 

If your presentation is short and insightful, you will be heard. Otherwise you have missed your opportunity to make an impact.

Four Keys to Present Like a Rock Star
We believe clear communication is a sign of clear thinking.  Walk into your presentation with the full confidence that whatever gets thrown at you, you can handle it because you got their attention, kept it simple, told a compelling story and practiced like a rock star. 

Voice of the Customer

"We selected LSA Global's Presenting to Executives Training over 5 other companies to help key executives improve their overall communication and executive presentation capabilities. Feedback has been great. Everyone had a great experience and many of them are feeding some of the lessons into their teams. I highly recommend LSA to any executive team looking to better organize and more effectively deliver key messages to C-Level individuals."
Todd Power | Office of the CEO | SAP AG.

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned