If you work for a "business leader" then you should be aware of this winter's rather wonderfully named NetSuite Brainyard Executive Outlook Survey. No need to read the whole article that quotes it here, if you're short of time, (you will have to sign up to read it) but there is a rather key table, early on, showing what business leaders think will be important this year.
The survey says that bosses are likely to rate both 'increased revenue' & 'customer satisfaction' as 9/10 in importance. Whilst 'increased profit' scores a whisker under 8/10.
As a worker you will be glad to learn 'employee satisfaction' scores 7.4 from the same audience. Which is lower, but still good. However, corporate responsibility only gets 3.8. And that's interesting surely? Because those of us paying attention to business media since last March can probably agree that the latter two areas have been where the huge majority of discussion and focus has been.
Indeed, online business seminars I attended over the winter all gave the impression that working methods and corporate purpose were the two biggest focuses for attendees. A well-known accountancy firm's representative excitedly announced, just a week or two back, that "we are taking all the desks out of our office". I've seen people discuss ergonomic workspaces, carbon footprint and the need for wellness training.
Such focus is very understandable: over the last 12 months leaders sought to ensure their sudden, totally unexpected need for new ways of working, coupled with the restricted world outside and all the consequent business implications, didn't cause the wheels to come off their operation. This concern was both for the organisation and its valued employees.
Quite right too, as I say. However, the Netsuite Brainyard research clearly indicates that starting gun has now gone for whatever will replace the "old normal". The game has shifted. In the UK we still anticipate a return to some form of historic normality by June. And the findings suggest I'm not the only one hankering after a bit more conversation about the outwardly focused staff: sales, basically, and customer requirements. Now is the time to turn our thoughts outwards and think about the perennial questions that should rightfully occupy any business and CEO's attention:
What's our offer, really?How is our offer better than the average in our market?Who exactly is going to appreciate our offer?How do we let them know?How do we deliver our offer to the customer in the most ideal way possible?How do we impress our loyal customers?How do we steal market share from our competitors?How do we win new customers in what, short-term, will be a smaller economy?How confident are we of achieving all this with our existing plans?
Ultimately, most of us don't work for the government. We need customers just as much, dare I say more, than a course in delivering employee feedback over Zoom.
Disagree? It's your privilege. But if you are reporting to a business leader, who is determined to come out of all this ahead, note one more thing from the survey I mentioned. Leaders gave "executive management stability" a priority score of only 5.7. Think about it.
Data like that serves notice that there are changed priorities ahead. So lend an ear to the sound of that starting gun.