December 19, 2016

Have you had a successful 2016 too? (Interim results from leaders)

By Paul Laughlin

successful 2016This year might have been a strange year, with unexpected news aplenty, but it sounds like many of you have had a successful 2016. That’s good to hear! I’m pleased to be able to share the interim results from our latest poll of your progress against your goals.

Our most recent, short survey, asked just 4 questions regarding your success this year.

This follows a survey we ran at the beginning of the year, to identify which types of goals leaders were setting.

We also ran a survey during 2016 on use of coaches or mentors, which we’ll return to towards the end of this post.

Here are the interim results, with some initial reflections on what may help you do even better in 2017.

Have you had a Successful 2016?

The first question in our poll asked:

“How do you view 2016, with regards to your progress?”

Your answers are more positive than some previous polls:

  • 29% = Very Successful
  • 57% = Successful
  • 14% = Neutral

None of you answered ‘unsuccessful‘ or ‘very unsuccessful‘. Perhaps we have some survey bias, towards those feeling positive about their progress & thus more likely to participate, but it’s still encouraging. Of course, here we are only dealing with your perception (or related emotion). The scale of this success will also depend on how challenging your goals were.

Let’s dig a little deeper…

Achieved your 2016 goals?

The second question focussed on a regular theme for our readers, goal setting. It asked:

“How well did you achieve the goals you set for 2016?”

Reassuringly, your answers aligned with that positive sentiment:

  • 0%   = Achieve All Goals
  • 71% = Achieve Most Goals 
  • 29% = Equal Mix of Achieved & Failed Goals

But these results do bring some caveat to respondents initial enthusiasm. Despite almost a third feeling that 2016 was a very successful year, apparently no-one achieved all their goals for this year. Perhaps this is a sign that leaders no longer expect to achieve their goals (in which case there’s a problem with our goal setting).

On the positive side, there were once again no votes for “failed most goals” or “failed all goals“. So, either leaders are setting goals that are too easy to achieve, or goal setting is at least raising performance somewhat.

Our next interest was to track where insight leaders focussed with their goals. Would this still be focussed on improvements captured in a previous survey?

Focus areas for 2016 goals:

The third question proposed 7 different topic areas for customer insight leader goals, based on your previous answers. The question asked:

“What type of goals achieved in 2016?”

You selected three equally popular goals:

  • 24% = Building capability goals (new team/skills/software etc)
  • 24% = Personal development goals (skills/knowledge)
  • 24% = Solving business problem goals
  • 18% = Customer Experience goals (uplift NPS/CSat etc)
  • 06% = Commercial goals (increase profit/income etc)
  • 06% = Turning around under-performance goals

A few other points are interesting about this list. There were no votes for “Marketing goals (uplift response, conversion, ROI)”. Perhaps the improvements to Marketing are not a business priority. More likely, given conversations I’ve had with insight leaders this year, I suspect the potential to improve marketing ROI from customer insight skills is being neglected.

It’s also not surprising to see a majority of leaders focussed on development (of both insight team capability & their own personal development). Most of the insight leaders with whom I work are still building the capability of their teams & educating the wider business as to the value that could be realised. The focus on specific business problems is also wise. Most leaders appear to have most early success by selecting one high priority business problem & proving potential for insight to help.

The lesser focus on Customer Experience is perhaps surprising. But then this has been a focus area for many businesses in recent years. Plus there is likely to be a CX leader with primary focus on that area.

If Customer Insight is to realise its full potential, there does need to be greater focus on commercial goals & proving ability to improve under performing functions/processes. During 2017, I will seek to build on our past Database Marketing content, by sharing more commercial focussed advice.

Does coaching or mentoring help?

The final question in our survey focussed on use of coaches or mentors. Our last one asked:

“Did you work with a coach or mentor to help you achieve your goals?”

After a previous survey suggesting take up of mentoring services by leaders, the answer was a little disappointing:

  • 100% = No use of Coach nor Mentor

No participants selected use of coach, mentor or both. On the positive side, I guess, this may indicate the potential that still exists for coaches or mentors to help customer insight leaders achieve all their goals & develop to the next level. However, it does also appear to be another sign of the limited take-up of coaching & mentoring services by customer insight leaders.

As an active coach & mentor, I see the benefit for leaders in using either or both of these approaches. The time to think, accountability & opportunity to see themselves or their challenges from a different perspective can significantly strengthen their leadership ability. So, this blog will continue to share coaching & mentoring content that we believe could help you as a leader or help CI leaders make the case for such investment in their development.

How have you done?

I hope that was useful & gave you pause for thought.

What about you? Did you achieve your 2016 goals? Have you participated in our survey yet?

Whether some of the points above ring true for you, or you’ve had a very different year, please share your insights.

We’d love to hear from as many Customer Insight leaders as possible, so we can help everyone have an even more successful 2017.