2018 TIA Conference Retrospective

2018 TIA Conference Retrospective

Reflecting on this past week’s TIA Convention in Palm Desert, I was reminded of the collective energy and genius that is present in our industry. From the solid structure of educational offerings to the powerful one on one insights over meals (beverages), the benefit to this gathering is immense. Buoyed by strong 2017 revenue and even stronger Q1 numbers, opportunity and excitement led the way.

With the added revenue and strong margins and profit, leaders are looking to make strategic investments in their organizations to capitalize on these growth opportunities. By clearly defining long term plans and the inherent priorities over the next few months, companies can capture the value that lies ahead.

Technology Perspectives

Data, in both capture and expression, is too valuable in today’s environment to be left wilting on the vine. Between TMS providers, information integrators, freight payment options and marketing providers, there are many ways to best utilize your internal data in conjunction with industry data to give your front line the power to succeed. Define what you are looking to achieve (not just for today, but for a longer horizon) and review options that will move you in that direction of Achievement. As new technology solutions (and their inherent problems) are created, be sure to ask questions with the context of your company to best understand the benefits and to avoid unnecessary exposure.

People Perspectives

People in structure and development are the machines of your operational expansion. You must be mindful of the way they are trained, organized, compensated and developed to ensure maximization of their long term productivity in the organization. They need to be given the proper tools, processes and motivators to grow and to effectively manage growth. Define the perfect employees for each role and the perfect processes for each function. Compare those to your current employees and processes to recognize the existing gaps. Build the hiring, training, organization and compensation models that will cross the gaps to the ideal.

Strategic Perspectives

Growth can come from a variety of different strategies. Organic growth springs from improvements to your existing methods, processes and products to drive expansion. Through proper utilization of Technology and People Strategies, your organization can spur growth and strengthen relationships across the enterprise. Beginning with your Vision of success, you can work backward to create the actions to move from your current situations and bridge the gaps. You can work forward into the future of your organization to develop sustainability or exit plans. You can find an existing external operation that strengthens an identified internal weakness and helps drive achievement faster.

It is imperative to find the right partners to both support your goals and to guide you in the areas where their expertise is greater. The TIA Convention is a wonderful forum to meet and share with potential partners to accelerate and maximize your business objectives.

Optimism Redefined: Building the plans for successful achievement.

Optimism Redefined: Building the plans for successful achievement.

Optimism defined: hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.

In a recent study, it was determined that the younger working class (millennials) is less optimistic than previous generations. In our current technology focused world, we are hyper aware of any local, national or global activity. This hyper awareness shows the granular existence of both good and bad. Less is open for interpretation. Reality can be less filtered through our own comfortable biases and can make one feel less optimistic than the less connected previous generation.

However, optimism isn’t a static existence or experience; it is a dynamic belief of the individual at the time of the questioning. There are moments in all our lives where we are truly optimistic and others where we have a deep pessimism about the future. Much is determined by our ability to understand and have control of the decisions that lead us forward in aligning our future with the perceived success that we desire.

Finding optimism in our personal and professional lives evolves from a clear understanding of our goals. These goals, defined by our desire and bound by our capabilities (both current and future), are at the end of a pathway – a pathway that is varied in both direction and length. There is no straight line between where you are today and where you plan to be. The path changes as a result of obstacles, conflicting choices and the unknown unknowns.

The key to achievement is to develop a plan that takes you to the vision of success.

The first step is to have a clear and honest understanding of where you are today. By assessing your business across multiple factors – financial, cultural, personnel and market position – you have a baseline starting point. Without clarity of this starting point, the following steps (and the decisions that must be made) are built on a faulty foundation and will be unsustainable as you move forward.

The second step is to have a clear vision of what success means for you and your company. Define the goals across the factors – this may be a financial number ($20M), it may be the creation of a sustainable, growing company to pass down through generations, or it may be to become the leading regional LTL provider in the upper Midwest. Once you establish the goal(s), a system is created between your current state (the baseline starting point) and your desired state (the goals and vision of success).

The third step is to take ownership of the plan and its corresponding goals. You and your organization must become committed to both. Each and every decision related to the business from that point needs to be made through the context of the plan and the goals. There is comfort in the status quo and often decisions are made that keep us within this comfort zone, but the goals exist in competition with the status quo and will cause discomfort. Belief and commitment, along with communication and reinforcement of the goals, will keep you focused in making decisions aligned to your success.

The last steps of the process are the actions necessary for achievement. The creation of useful metrics and measurements to assess the movement keeps you, and each person, progressing towards the goal. Regular review of the action steps – where you are accelerating and where you are lagging behind – will help you understand where to deploy resources to stay on track. Support your team through recognition and reward. Hold them accountable to the expectations and behaviors necessary to reach your goals. In short, lead them across the finish line.

Having a clear plan and the tools to work it creates an energy that drives success. This energy is contagious and feeds others within your organization to continue to grow and move forward. This collaborative and motivating energy is powerful. It fosters innovation and facilitates the necessary changes to bring greater value to your company. This energy has a name and that name is optimism.

Home Grown Talent vs Free Agency: Hiring Well in the Transportation Industry

Home Grown Talent vs Free Agency: Hiring Well in the Transportation Industry

Finding the right talent to accelerate your brokerage growth can be a challenging exercise – sometimes there are diamonds in the rough and other times the diamonds are too rough. The goal of any recruiting program is to find the best fit for your strategy and your culture. Too often, management is focused on the immediate revenue return potential instead of a longer view on consistent, predictable revenue growth model. However, a newer salesforce can be slow to gain traction and can become discouraged before it can make noticeable gains. Managing expectations in finding and developing the team becomes the primary role of the organizational leadership. Both talent pools can offer strong results, but careful attention must be paid to adherence to the organization’s strategic plan and culture.

Free Agent Pros

Successful salespeople can inject energy and momentum into a company that may have become stagnant and they can accelerate existing growth. Managed and compensated properly, sales success is contagious. Bringing on a proven sales professional can set the right tone for the team with a focus on growth through investment. Sales professionals bring valuable practices and processes to targeting prospects, lead development and nurturing skills.

Free Agent Cons

In a world of non-compete and non-solicitation agreements, finding the all-star sales rep that can bring an immediate push to revenue is very difficult. Hiring companies are banking not only on the historical book of business, but on the track record of success. It is important to understand the sales methodology and process of an experienced transportation sales professional to see if they can align to your existing process.

Be aware that, if a sales rep is looking for other opportunities, he/she may carry some baggage related to their previous company.

New Hire Pros

By enlisting new and fresh people into a transportation sales role, you have a clean canvas available to create the perfect salesperson. It is important to find the talent that embodies and exhibits, through past action and previous responsibility, the behavioral components of future success in the transportation industry.

New Hire Cons

Ramp up time and consistent progression are often the largest hurdles to overcome when brining on a new and untested salesperson. Folks who are new to sales don’t often understand that rejection and disappointment are part of the process and that failure comes before success. Attention must be paid to the process – with regular communication and feedback to reduce burnout.

Align for Success

By hiring for cultural, behavioral and organizational fit of salesforce members, the company can build a team from a strong foundation. As with any hire, you want to find alignment to your organizational vision and goals. The faces, voices, hearts and brains that make hundreds (and thousands) of contacts every day must be fully invested in the company’s plans for success.

Train and Develop Skills to Maximize Results

Invest in your people and give them the tools and skills to achieve. Create a comprehensive and sustainable training and development program that, in turn, creates a winning team that will drive your growth and success.

To learn more about hiring and training programs designed for brokerage success, visit our website – www.gotranstrategy.com – or reach out to me directly – andrew@transtrategypartners.com

Yet to Come……

Yet to Come……

Over the weekend, I watched Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri with my family. When it ended, my 15 year-old daughter was left unfulfilled because she didn’t know what was going to happen next. I told her that the ambiguity of ‘what’s next’ adds to the drama and texture of the story.

This conversation got me thinking about our collective need to know what happens next in our lives (and in the lives of others). We are overstimulated with bites of abject predictability. Our online platforms are directed by algorithmic certainty and similarity so there is little need to explore or challenge beyond our comfort zone. Unfortunately, reality is never quite so certain or so perfectly resolute.

While there are occurring factors that compound the uncertainty (universal entropy), the vector of our future is dictated by the choices that we make and the choices we do not make. Are the choices you make, both consciously and unconsciously made, directed towards your desired outcome – or are they consistent with the present pathway of ‘good enough’?

By gaining clarity in your goal definition, you can see the structure of the decisions laid out before you. Through the lens of your goal(s), you can focus on the changes that need to be made from your current position along the path. The speed at which you reach the goal is also determined through choices – often requiring multiple interconnected choices from all members of your team/network/family.

The collaboration of focused decisions purposefully moves you towards your defined goal.

Use your choices to build the texture of your own story in its movement towards the ending you desire.

How effective is your team?  Identify and root out dysfunctional areas threatening your business.

How effective is your team? Identify and root out dysfunctional areas threatening your business.

In his leadership fable, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni defines the dysfunctions that hinder the development of a cohesive, effective team as Lack of Trust, Fear of Conflict, Lack of Commitment, Avoidance of Accountability and Inattention to Results. While each of these dysfunctions can damage your organization, when combined, they truly threaten its foundation and can lead to the dissolution of the organization.

Working with your team to overcome these dysfunctions will help reorganize and reenergize your business to fulfill the vision of growth and achievement.

TRUST

Trust is built on a foundation of respect, vulnerability and experiential behaviors. Alignment to organizational goals, instead of contradictory self-interest based goals, sets the stage for greater collaboration. Make sure everyone understands the roles and expectations for each team member and how they impact the overall strategic plan helps to clarify the parts of the whole and the applicable responsibility.

CONFLICT

Within any group of individuals, there is bound to be conflict of some kind. Too often, the conflict is not directly addressed or shared and remains hidden under the surface of conversations and meetings. Disagreements on direction and tactics are natural and should be communicated as they develop. The team should recognize that the opinions are tied to a desire to improve the organization and are not the ideological representation of the person. Disagreements and conflict should not be personal, but professional. Tying the opinion or idea to the persona of an individual can be detrimental for current and future projects.

COMMITMENT

Individual and collective commitment to the overarching vision and strategic plan for an organization is imperative to the achievement of its goals. Clarity in that vision and the regular communication of expectations are key components to building that commitment. Focus on the objectives, intrinsically energized by the commitment, drives and accelerates your team forward.

ACCOUNTABLILITY

Accountability is the insurance for organizational risk. It also acts as the integrator for the other areas. Accountability begets trust from other team members by taking responsibility for activity and tactics, outlined in the strategic plan. Conflict can arise when productivity and results are not met. Use accountability as a focal point to discuss the how and why failure may occur and a champion for improving those areas toward achievement.

RESULTS

Results matter. Results are defined by the productivity against the metrics. If those results are not reviewed or addressed appropriately (either positively or negatively), the entire team loses their trust in both the measurements and in the culture that did not value the goals. If 90% of the financial goal is acceptable, neither the goal nor the effort to reach it have true value in the organization. Set the right goals and the right processes to achieve them.

When reviewing your team, in times of growth and in times of change, look for the potential roadblocks caused by these dysfunctions. Address these challenges before they rot the foundation of your organization and limit your ability to create a healthy and sustainable company.