Manufacturing executives need to consistently assess and reflect on their businesses when constructing a high-performing culture, according to trainer and executive coach Christine McMahon.

She pointed to a 2011 Harvard Business School study that revealed that chief executive officers spend 60 percent of their time in meetings and 25 percent on the phone or at public events, leaving just 15 percent for all other tasks, including reflective thought.

“Reflective thought is necessary for long-term success,” said McMahon, who owns Christine McMahon & Associates, a Milwaukee training and consulting firm. “Unlike critical thought, which is needed to solve an immediate problem, reflective thought is needed to birth new insights, identify new paths for success and generate ideas that lead to a bold, bright future.”

McMahon will lead a working discussion titled “Leading for High Performance” on Feb. 28 as part of pre-conference programming for the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s Manufacturing Matters! conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Milwaukee. 

It’s vitally important, McMahon said, that executives immerse themselves in the strategic side of their businesses.

During the program, McMahon will discuss leaders’ roles relative to:

  • Defining and institutionalizing a company’s purpose, vision, and values
  • Molding and supporting a company’s culture
  • Engaging employees to do and achieve their best
  • Creating internal alignment so clients are consistently delighted

Executives will be guided through a series of reflective questions and provided proven tools that build high trust and clear focus so employees perform at the highest level, McMahon said.

“Employees come to work wanting to make a meaningful difference,” she said. “They want to contribute and be recognized for their effort.  Creating a culture of high performance begins with purposeful leadership.”

Culture is the result of various aspects that come together in a powerful way, McMahon said.  Key elements include:

  • Building trust
  • Communicating clear expectations
  • Developing new competencies by investing in training and coaching
  • Providing meaningful and timely feedback
  • Establishing accountability so ownership resides with the team member

These steps are imperative, especially for small and mid-size manufacturers.

“Time is the currency of this economy.  Everyone is doing more with less,” McMahon said.  “When leaders effectively empower their team to own what needs to be accomplished, it frees the leader up to focus on the future, to assess the landscape, to imagine possibilities, and to bring ideas to the organization.”

A Boston native, McMahon began her career at Procter & Gamble Co.  After seven years, she moved to SlimFast Foods, where she became the Regional Director for the eastern half of the United States. She then joined Nabisco, where she had responsibility for nearly 120 sales people and 13 sales managers.

McMahon also will direct a session at the Manufacturing Matters! conference on March 1 that focuses on fast tracking sales growth.

“It’s about generating significantly bigger revenue results in less time,” McMahon said.

High performing sales personnel “own their results” and engage in a “no-excuses policy,” she explained.

A shifting of a go-to-market strategy often is necessary to fast track sales growth and eliminate gaps between high-performing sales professionals and the balance of the team, McMahon added.

“With the right commitment, all sales professionals can become top performers when given the direction and tools,” she said.

Fast tracking sales growth is about defining what are high-payoff activities and what aren’t and shifting the focus to investing time and generating a significantly high return for the effort, according to McMahon.

“In sales, it’s very easy to be busy, very busy, but busy doesn’t equate to revenue growth,” she insisted.

Key elements include:

  • Defining your ideal client
  • Conducting research, before you meet a client, so you have an idea about how you can assist them based on the results that you’ve helped other clients achieve
  • Knowing the criteria used to qualify a prospect and be vigilant in doing so
  • Meeting with the key decision maker early in the sales process to make sure that your project aligns with their strategic goals
  • Having quantifiable results that you have helped other clients achieve

The plan isn’t difficult to implement but it often takes time to acclimate sales people to a new way of going to market, according to McMahon.

The strategy is important to small and mid-size manufacturers because of the costs associated with hiring and retaining sales personnel, she said.

“If they can produce 100 percent to 400 percent more revenue with shorter sales cycles, imagine the possibilities,” McMahon said. “Our results are stunning and redefine what people believe to be true and we have the case studies and results to back it up.”