SUCCESS THROUGH PROCESS

I once had a client that wanted to improve sales and worked hard to create a new, compelling business strategy. After an enthusiastic launch, frustration grew as the order numbers remained fairly flat. What was lacking was a clear sales process with measures to isolate where sales people were running into difficulty and why.  If goals are a map to set direction, then process is the speedometer. The basic building block for process is employee responsibilities. Without written descriptions, even a small business that has yet to evolve to processes will flounder. From a manager’s desk, process problems appear murky with no obvious solution in sight.

Some examples of process issues are:

  • Customers tripped up by the same service or delivery issues
  • Stifled productivity from employees welcoming a high-skill employee handling their responsibilities and, thus, becomes the bottleneck
  • Intense finger-pointing over who is responsible for a decision or to blame for an issue
  • Difficulty, or even inability, to forecast orders, cost, and delivery times

By definition, a process is an activity requiring work to be divided across multiple organizational functions. Successful hand-offs of work require a complete description of each task, who is responsible for the task, how it is determined that a task is completed correctly, and what action is to be taken if a task cannot be completed as scheduled. Here’s a questionnaire to help you assess your process expertise. Each “No” should be regarded as an opportunity to improve.

  • For the sales, operations, finance/accounting, and general management functions, is there the one name clearly recognized in your business as being responsible for each function?
  • Is there a quality policy that allows the employee closest to the assembly of the product decide if a product is ready to ship?
  • Do employees have a clear written description of their responsibilities and are able to recite how their performance is evaluated?
  • Do you have periodic reviews of key activities and process to determine which processes are obsolete and need redesign?

If you answered yes to all the questions, you likely have confident employees and satisfied customers.  Regardless of how you answered, you can download a white paper titled, “Marketing Quality Management.” And, spoiler alert: if sales are down, don’t be quick to blame the sales people.  Accelerated Achievements has helped all kinds of companies improve efficiency and quality. If questions have been triggered by this post and you want to talk, drop me a line.

OVERCOMING INACTION: SUCCESS THOUGH GOALS

Nobody plans to fail; but of those that fail, 97% fail to plan. Is the statement trite? Its impact is greatly dependent on the listener’s desire to succeed. Goals and planning is a critical area most prone to inaction. This can be due to a strong ego that believes intuition can solve problems more quickly than planning, a complacency to keep things just the way they are, or simply being stuck on how to proceed with the challenge in front of you. Not acting on the change around you carries a big cost. So, what happens when there is over-reliance on intuition?

  • Managers are getting stressed from taking on too many low-priority tasks at the cost of missing an important goal. You might recognize these folks by their complaints about being too busy.
  • Managers are pursuing projects without budgeting time and dollars and then being surprised by the cost of the project and dogged with rework and disappointing returns.
  • Managers fail to assign names and due dates to tasks and have little recourse to correct employees’ late work.
  • People work chronic overtime because they don’t see an activity with enough attraction to draw them home.

Experts agree that goal setting is the most critical skill for an executive to perfect. Assignment of work, monitoring progress, performance evaluation, and recognition are all impossible without solid goals. Thus, one of the best cost reduction schemes for a business is to do more planning. Here’s a yes/no questionaire to help you assess your goal setting expertise. Each “No” should be regarded as a caution.

  • Are goals not completed or completed late with some frequency?
  • Do you have work and personal goals that motivate you to keep a healthy life balance?
  • Do your employees know what your goals are and have goals to support the accomplishment of your goals?
  • Do you have a regular review of both yours and your employees’ goals to update status and identify new obstacles that need to be addressed?
  • Do you have a process to plan and research key growth initiatives, such as capital investments, market expansions, mergers/acquisitions, etc. that supports sound investment and staffing decisions?

If you answered “Yes” to all the questions, you are a planner extraordinaire.  If not, take heart in knowing that you are in good company and sound planning skills can be readily mastered.  For taking the time to review this post, I’m making The Life Balance Worksheet available as a free download.  If your assessment has left you with lingering questions and you want to kick around ideas about how to strengthen your planning process, drop me a line.