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I love this time of year when I get to help leaders design their annual kickoff meetings and refresh their vision for future growth.
Sadly, some growth grinches roam these gatherings. Much like the grumpy solitary creature in the film “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” some leaders miss the true meaning and mechanics behind this important holiday –the planning season. In 2023, I witnessed how these “bah humbug” habits disrupted investor confidence, demoralized team members, and crushed careers.
If you need to jump-start 2024 growth and help your teams be more purposeful and engaged, “you better watch out” for…
The People Pleasers: These well-intended team members make your company a fun place to work. Count on them to deliver those just-baked holiday cookie icebreakers. Depend on them too often, and it might cost you six figures in attrition.
Here’s an example. In early 2023, I interviewed B2B marketing and product leaders from a mid-market company. I was gathering their input to help us design the upcoming kickoff meeting. Their CEO had set some aggressive 2024 growth targets. In response, Marketing needed new ways of going to market and building consistent sales pipeline.
Their infectious enthusiasm and passion was contagious. One leader said “we will help each other as needed, no matter what.” Imagine if you were a CMO or Chief Revenue Officer and heard that from your VP of Creative. Wouldn’t you love a herd of revenue focused reindeer at the ready?
Here’s where that belief tears the tinsel. As some leaders look to grow and scale, they naturally call on their People Pleasers for special projects and red teaming. They have good intentions–yet too many special projects and priority “gift piles” turn those enthusiasts into permanent Yuletide Grumps.
You will see the early warning signs in your virtual meetings.That’s where teams mentally “check out” by looking down at phones, avoiding Q&A, frequently turning off their camera, and skipping chat commenting.
If you’re a CEO or CMO, look under the company tree. You will find a high percentage of People Pleasers in Marketing. You can address this by leading tough discussions that define and document your strategic guardrails. Reward people who can focus on key business priorities and gracefully say “no” to distractions and loud priority-destroying bell ringers. (Random AI experiments and “grandfathered” live event sponsorships that no longer show ROI: we are coming for you!).
The Fuzzy Mantra Misfit: Whenever I begin a new consulting engagement, I ask my new clients what growth “mantra” guides their investment and hiring choices. They typically choose either product leadership, customer intimacy, or operational excellence.
Regardless of company size, I will often discover a lack of alignment around one common mantra.
When organizations lack any shared mantra, their level of efficacy appears more like a misfit toy than a Secret Santa.
For one UK-based company I advised, the CMO pursued customer intimacy with their team. Yet the co-founder believed in pursuing product leadership. Whenever they reviewed strategic goals and investments during board meetings, unhealthy, unresolved debates persisted. The co-founder regularly criticized the CMO’s presentation and constantly challenged their tactics.
During our coaching sessions, I recommended that the CMO schedule pre-board meetings with the co-founder (and other strong detractors) to address their concerns privately and build trust. She took my advice. After a few months, they agreed on a more unified growth strategy to the board, and turned down the drama volume.
The Employee Experience (EX) Elf: Have you ever worked for a company who abdicates professional development or team engagement strategies to one department, such as HR or Learning and Development?
After advising hundreds of successful CEOs, CMOs and growth leaders, here’s what I have learned: a strict, siloed EX policy can lead to costly attrition of top people and missed growth opportunities.
I saw this unfold at a California-based company. The head of CX wanted to hire an executive coach. The president recommended me for the role.
I was grateful for the opportunity, and enjoyed my initial meeting with the CX leader. At the last moment, an HR manager intervened.
They overrode the president’s recommendation using a bureaucratic excuse. Although I had a track record within their firm, I was not on HR’s preferred “supplier list.” That HR manager was determined to own and direct the employee experience. Sadly, process prevented progress.
As 2024 approaches, we will see more growth leaders permanently put these silo elves on the shelf. Recent research shows us how the EX, Marketing, and CX roles and strategies are converging. Last year, Salesforce teamed up with Stanford and Columbia Universities on research that showed that only one in three companies have designed a seamless integration between their customer experience and employee experience initiatives. And when they’re not aligned, the research team suggests that companies may be missing out on as much as a 50% revenue bump.
I applaud my fellow 100 Coaches colleague, Tiffani Bova, for helping to bust these EX silos. You can read more in her latest book, The Experience Mindset, and watch my recent livestream with Tiffani here.
Which growth grinch threatens your organization’s 2024 success journey: The People Pleasers, the Growth Misfit, or the EX Elf? I would love to hear from you.
Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a holiday room filled with Cindy-Lou Whos — and no Grinches. And thank you for being a part of my Whoville!
This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.