Some books tout a new twist on customer service; others innovative ways to cut costs and improve efficiencies. All of these facets of your business are important, and in today's economy, they should be taken seriously and considered.
But before you jump on the latest business craze bandwagon, don't forget that at the end of the day, your company's success hinges on the performance of your employees.
The best technology in the world won't improve customer service if the people using it are careless, ill-trained or unhappy with the company and/or their jobs. Cutting costs might improve that side of the financial picture, but if your sales drop off because of unhappy sales reps, it won't make a big enough difference in the long run.
Companies that rush to embrace new trends and technologies without first considering improvements in developing employees and creating a positive work environment may be left wondering why these investments didn't produce the expected results.
After speaking with dozens of CEOs and executives of successful companies, I have discovered a common thread: they all value their employees. They consider keeping those employees happy and developed one of their biggest -- and most important -- challenges. These business veterans have learned through experience that it's always a challenge to find and retain highly qualified, talented workers, because people's needs are constantly changing.
But it is a challenge that successful CEOs make a priority to meet, every day. Yes, these executives also seek to improve the efficiencies in their operations and keep pace with industry trends and technologies, but they keep employee relationships and concerns foremost in their minds.
So before you seek a cure-all for what ails your firm in the latest business book or methodology, make sure you are starting out with satisfied employees, people who are growing professionally and are happy with their jobs. Then you might find that any other improvement you make is like icing on the cake.