Success in business requires proper planning and execution. We can’t effectively plan for our future success without properly diagnosing the present state of our organizations.
The TM Solutions Business Diagnostic Series addresses several key points to consider when assessing your business and how well it’s positioned for marketplace success. We tackle fundamental concepts like Managing Profitability, Minimizing Risk, Maximizing Productivity, Improving Expertise and Capabilities, Strengthening Leadership Teams, and Investing in People.
Last week’s diagnostic piece outlined the thought processes and check-up questions for Minimizing Risk. Today’s installment addresses the “fire in the furnace”—Maximizing Productivity across the company footprint. Managing profitability and Minimizing Risk address critical measures of a strong balance sheet and compliance framework, while employee productivity is the fuel that drives an organization’s success across the board.
Through our experience in working with some of the most successful companies in American business, TM Solutions has uncovered four success factors in maximizing productivity: enhancing team production, quality, and efficiency, creating a culture of accountability, improving leader and employee engagement levels, and reducing employee turnover to acceptable levels.
Enhancing Team Production, Quality, and Efficiency
Most companies have some kind of performance management program in place; unfortunately, most of these programs are inadequate to deal with the pace and urgency of modern business. If your company is relying on the traditional once or twice-a-year engagement model without ongoing performance feedback and dialogue, your managers are missing the greatest opportunity to maximize team production, quality, and efficiency and will struggle to respond to changing market conditions.
To keep people and their productivity high and centered on more consistent achievement of business goals, companies must stay attuned to leveraging the strengths and minimizing the liabilities of each team member on a regular basis. We must also understand the wants and needs of each individual and how well these align with the team’s and organization’s goals.
To adjust to the demands of both the business and employees, companies need to have more dynamic performance processes and tools allowing managers to provide high impact feedback on a daily or weekly basis, rather than simply spending several hours a few times each year. This means that they should be able to spend just a few minutes, whenever needs arise, to check the pulse of particular team members and ensure that productivity is maximized, along with employee engagement from proper communication, coaching and motivation techniques tailored to each employee’s needs.
Business Check-up Questions
1. Can our performance management program provide individualized take-action strategies ready to implement right away? Or is this only provided once or twice a year?
2. Are we aware of each team member’s wants and needs, natural strengths or potential liabilities?
3. Can we provide coaching and guidance to each employee on how to improve productivity, quality of work, or team effectiveness? Can we do this in a matter of minutes and “on-the-fly?”
4. Do our leadership teams use effective communication strategies to engage and develop their teams?
Creating a Culture of Accountability
Many organizations have a problem with accountability. Often, a lack of accountability permeates the management ranks, and it’s no surprise that front-line teams take on this culture from their managers. While everyone wants to be holding the keys when the company drives to success, many blame or excuse responsibility when things go wrong.
Accountability is one of the core competencies of leadership. Good leaders take responsibility for losses with every bit the fervor that they do when the company profits. They do this because failure is the best teacher. When we take a proper level of accountability for a loss, we learn, we grow, setting up many future wins as a result.
While creating a culture of accountability clearly begins at the top, the process must flow through an entire organization. Organizational standards must clearly recognize and reward success, so that the company can hold up examples to which others may aspire in their own work. Ultimately, having organizational accountability means setting a foundation for confronting problems and outright failures, with the goal of improving and growing the people and teams responsible.
Companies must look to reward success and address failure with great frequency and as early as possible. No great success should take too long to achieve reward, while failure should be anticipated and addressed with great urgency as well.
Business Check-up Questions
1. Do our leaders hold themselves and others responsible and answerable for planning, execution and achieving business results, in both good and bad times?
2. Are standards and expectations clearly communicated to everyone? Do our peers and direct reports understand what success looks like?
3. Do we regularly recognize and reward success? Can we distinguish our top performers from everyone else?
4. Do we confront organizational performance problems early and frequently?
Improving Leader and Employee Engagement Levels
To maximize productivity, you must first maximize the engagement levels of your company’s leaders and employees. Since companies engage with each individual, leaders and managers must understand what motivates their employees. While some respond with financial incentives, others want assurances that they can grow within their current roles or earn promotions with greater responsibility.
Leaders must pride themselves not on having their own way of leading teams, but in individualized ways that they use to reach each team member. This approach maximizes the individual, and, by extension, then maximizes the potential of the team. To achieve this level of engagement, leaders must adapt their personal styles, rather than adhering to a “my way or the highway” mentality, in order to earn respect, build trust, and influence each member of their team.
One element of adapting personal leadership style that is a necessary component of individualizing their management approach is taking a personal interest in each employee. When leaders and managers take a personal interest in the well-being, wants, and needs of each employee, they are better able to tailor their management styles and motivation techniques to each one more effectively.
Business Check-up Questions
1. Do we understand what makes each of our employees tick? Is it money, status or reputation, growth opportunities, control, autonomy, or is it something else?
2. Do we motivate and engage our teams with an individualized approach?
3. Do our leaders adapt their styles to various situations and people to earn respect, build trust and expand their influence?
4. Do our leaders take a personal interest in their teams?
Reducing Employee Turnover to Acceptable Levels
Many companies that are otherwise successful fail to reach their full productivity, and thus, profitability, because they fail to retain talented employees. If we understand an employee’s individual wants and needs, and their expectations from the company in exchange for their performance, we can better understand why they may leave—even when times are good for the company.
The strongest companies are proactive in addressing employee turnover, and they start at the very beginning during the talent acquisition process through onboarding. During this time, they take an aggressive stance on hiring for organizational fit and engagement, and they don’t miss a beat during the early months of the employee’s tenure.
While the first weeks and months after hiring are certainly critical, the organization must remain focused on understanding the long-term engagement needs of the employee in the following months and years. There must be ongoing effort to make work fun and interesting for all—this is part of having employees thrive in a productive environment.
Managers and leaders must continue to assess and address areas where they can provide a platform for each employee to grow and learn as they advance through the organization with increased responsibilities. Training, coaching, and issuing challenging assignments are essential, as long as they align properly with the employee’s own interests, to maximizing productivity and eliminating concerns about retention.
Business Check-up Questions
1. Do we understand why our peers and direct reports joined the organization? Do we understand why they will leave?
2. Are we proactive about employee turnover by taking a holistic approach and addressing turnover at the source – talent acquisition and onboarding?
3. Do we enrich work roles and make work fun and interesting?
4. Do we provide opportunities for personal growth and increased responsibilities through training, coaching and challenging assignments? Is this based on each employee’s interests?
Next week, the TM Solutions Business Diagnostics Series will address the key area of Improving Expertise and Capabilities.