Is your business geared up to win?
More importantly, are you team geared up to win?
Setting people up to win isn't a common expression, but one that I wish I would hear more often when I work with businesses. The opposite, setting people up to fail, is a more common expression and might give us (as a culture) a clue as to one of the pitfalls of organising our business activities.
There are a few different ways that we can set our business up to win. These include clear business standards, KPIs and corresponding targets and effective routines.
Do you have standards in your business?
Standards can come in all shapes and forms. Standards can be described in job descriptions, in quality management systems, in conversations with your teams and standard operating procedures. There are visual standards (especially if you subscribe to the 5S approach) to help you and cultural norms to consider.
The question that this throws up is "are your standards defined enough that people know what 'good' looks like?".
It is really easy to have gaps in any of the items I listed above. Not adequately conveying your expectations, and sharing knowledge about what the business needs in order to be successful is one of the reasons that businesses have so many loose ends.
It is in your control to identify these gaps in the standards (whether performance, legislative, or other) and then plug the gaps so that everyone knows what the expectations and requirements of the business are. This knowledge can then help to shape the right kinds of conversations so that your team can win at their jobs.
Key Performance Indicators and targets
A lot of people grumble to me about targets. The ones that are unrealistic I can appreciate as being unpopular, but on the whole most targets are helpful. Not hitting the targets seems to bring up all kinds of issues with people regarding failure. Taken the right way, and managed appropriately, missing targets doesn't need to be the end of the world.
The rate of change, the direction of travel and having a clear understanding of what causes the changes in the performance can mean a world of difference to the results. I used to run a business unit that was making a loss. The cause was quite simple - we weren't productive enough to properly cover our costs. The solution - find the waste in the business, drive up productivity (without anyone breaking a sweat) and watch the profitability change.
We could measure our productivity, we knew how good we needed to be and we accepted it was a journey. The journey was quite short however; we broke into profit in the following three months. After this the business unit broke the ever increasing profit target each and every month because the team were keen to make all of the improvements that they knew they could.
Like clear standards, a good set of measures (that help you to understand how the business is really doing) and some reasonable / challenging targets can really help your team understand how close they are to winning. Managed correctly this can be a motivating experience and can accelerate your rate of improvement.
Effective routines and efficient behaviour
If you have read any of my books you will know that I have a thing for routine.
Discipline and routine can make a huge difference to the performance of a business, especially when the (so called) little things aren't forgotten about in a business. These smaller activities, the ones that are squeezed off a to-do list when the going gets tough, are often the ones that have a really big impact when they are ignored for too long.
This is one of the key themes in my book Losing the Cape and by defining a routine for your business, that supports your team (so that they are aware of what needs to be completed by when), they can be even clearer about how to win.
These are just three approaches that you can employ in your business to help your team win. By helping your team to become winners the rest of the business gets to benefit. So, if you are in doubt about how to get a positive shift in your business performance, set your staff up to win first.
About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.
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