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Productivity

LET EMPLOYEES IMPROVE THEIR OWN ENGAGEMENT

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Have you ever done an employee engagement survey? If you have, my guess is that you ended up with piles of information and feedback that was either unclear, overwhelming, or a combination of both.

(Despite what the organizations who sell such solutions might tell you…)

In this week’s brief video, I share some specific approaches that I’ve used with clients to obtain employee feedback, and more importantly, to engage employees in making their workplace more desirable.

Want to learn more? Take 3 minutes and watch this video.

The return on your investment of time will be tremendous.

click here to watch video

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DELEGATE MORE TO INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY

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Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well it would if I was suggesting that for you to delegate work to others would result in increasing your own productivity. But what if I was suggesting that doing so would actually increase the productivity of your people, would you still believe me?

Well believe it or not, the more you delegate projects and work assignments to your employees (along with the associated authority to make decisions in support of completing the work), the greater the level of productivity you’ll experience from your employees.

Why?

If you snoop around your business today what you are likely to find is that the majority of employees work in silos; deal with limited autonomy in making decisions on how they work as a result of processes or policies; and at least in some instances are managed by leaders who limit their ability to make decisions as it relates to their work.

What’s the result? Lack of motivate, low morale, team dysfunction and interdepartmental dysfunction. Not so fun.

This might seem like I’m stating the obvious, but as humans we have a brain and to remain focused, motivated and incentivized, we need the opportunity to use our brain; something that structure, procedures and management were often created to counter act in favor of creating “consistency” and “predictability” in work.

So why not break the mold? Reduce (that’s right!), reduce the number of procedures you have in place and instead invest time in educating employees in how to make decisions as it relates to their work? Possibly you could reduce the number of “supervisors” replacing them with team champions, as selected by the team.

The solutions to this epidemic are endless and the results are quite powerful. By delegating work and the autonomy to make decisions pertaining to completing the work to the very people doing the work, you’ll find an increase in productivity… and morale… and motivation… and focus.

So where will you begin?

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WHAT IF TALENTED EMPLOYEES SOUGHT YOU OUT?

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Rarely a week goes by that I don’t come across a CEO or executive seeking new talent. It could be a high-priced executive, or just an employee that has multiple “new age” skills such as social media marketing. Finding good talent is difficult, takes time, and costs money.

As a result, most take the easy road – spend big bucks to get great people. Have you tried this before? How did it work out?

My experience has been that throwing money at the situation is not the solution. In fact,

It seems that finding and attracting talent is a crapshoot. But it doesn’t have to be.

There are ways in which you can attract talent to your organization that cost little to no money. Want to learn more? Watch this week’s video. It will only take you 2-3 minutes and will save you thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in the long-run.

Click here to watch video

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ADD TIME TO YOUR CALENDAR

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A couple of weeks ago I connected with someone after they had purchased my book Operational Empowerment. When I asked for feedback on the book, this person said he found it to be too vague, not providing him with the specific steps he could introduce in order to empower his employees.

This might shock you, but I was thrilled to hear this feedback!

You see, as an executive, empowerment isn’t about handing over the reins or throwing caution to the wind when it comes to sensitive or critical decisions, it’s about adding time to your calendar.

Whether you have ten employees or two thousand employees, they have questions that trickle upwards from the front lines in the form of management inquiries, suggestions, and ideas. These are all good things of course, but they do take time for you to consider.

This is where empowerment can be used to actually make time. You see, investing some time up front in building self-managed teams who collaborate and make decisions quickly and effectively means less “trickle-up” and more time available for you to focus on the things you should be focusing on – like growing the business, increasing profits, and sneaking in a round of golf now that the nice weather is here. Okay, that last bit was more of a personal interest.

This week I’d suggest you try something new. Every time (and I mean every time) someone brings you a question, idea, or suggestion, respond with “What do you think we should do about that?” Pause and politely listen to their response. If it sounds good, tell them to get moving and report back in an appropriate time. If it isn’t a good idea, tell them to take the idea away and come back with their recommendations.

So for my friend who provided feedback on my book, I’m thankful. The fact that he is beginning to think about the steps necessary to introducing empowerment into his company suggests to me that he is on the right track to adding time to his calendar.

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ARE YOU AN EFFECTIVE EXECUTIVE?

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Routine written on multiple road sign

I was recently interviewing employees of a large division to determine their level of engagement (i.e. commitment to the company; desire to share and support improvements, etc.) and found that employees consistently mentioned a lack of trust in “management.” It would appear that the lack of trust stemmed from a previous acquisition, during which employees went for months being unsure of whether or not they would lose their job.

Lack of trust in turn resulted in low engagement and a general disliking for management even though many of the managers involved in the initial acquisition were no longer with the organization.

I’ve studied engagement for nearly a decade and found repeatedly that low engagement is in many instances tied to longstanding beliefs or emotions that tend to outlast employees themselves.

I call these routines. Good or bad, new employees often adopt them as “the way things are,” and over time can diminish a desire for change and innovation.

In “The Power of Habit” Charles Duhigg discusses various studies that demonstrate that organizational performance is tied directly to the longstanding habits and routines that employees, executives and even CEOs have introduced during their tenure. Identifying and changing these habits is the only way in which to influence change.

This week I’d like to suggest you try a little study of your own.

During the week, test your employee’s knowledge of a key process, something that they all should know.  When you find differences of opinion on specific points, ask “why” until you uncover the true reasons for the discrepancies.

In my experience you’ll find that differences in opinion is the result of old habits or routines that have been passed along during training. It’s these differences that create variations in performance, quality and even creativity.

You see, if you want to introduce effective change or improvement, it’s less about designing the perfect process or work instruction, and more heavily weighted on your ability to identify and change existing routines and habits that are often unbeknownst to everyone involved.

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WHY YOU SHOULD SPEAK TO EMPLOYEES LIKE THEY ARE CUSTOMERS

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Businesspeople in conference room

The other day I sat across from a CEO who during our meeting, called their employee in to bring them some paperwork. When the employee arrived the CEO (who has worked with this employee for more than a decade), made a snide remark to the employee about how the paperwork should have already been available for her to reference.

As I observed the employees face, it was clear that the comment, although meant as harmless, was not taken as it was intended.

What do you think will happen now when the employee leaves the office? How will they interact with other employees? How will they speak to customers?

You see, although the employee may be used to the CEO making these kinds of comments and remarks, the influence they have colors what the employee believes to be acceptable ways of speaking to and interacting with others while at work. Although they may seem significant, these beliefs can be further exacerbated by the mood of the employee.

Picture for a moment that in the situation I described above the employee has just left home following a disagreement with their spouse or partner. How will this interaction shape their attitude for the remainder of the day?

Unfortunately for any CEO or executive, getting comfortable with employees and believing that you can speak to them in a manner that feels appropriate. The reasoning is quite simple. As an effective CEO or executive you are always on camera, and the image you portray (which includes how you speak to and interact with others) sets the tone for the rest of employees as to what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

So how can you make this shift, particularly with long-term employees around whom you might believe that you can “be yourself?” Treat them as if they are customers.

By staying on your toes when it comes to interacting with employees, you constantly demonstrate the positive, can-do attitude that you expect employees to have.

We’ve discussed in previous posts how employees across the organization can contribute to the customers experience, therefore consider that in order to ensure this experience is positive, you must constantly demonstrate these types of behaviours and attitudes that you expect them to use when interacting with customers.

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ARE YOU IN THE RIGHT FRAME OF HEALTH

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equipment for fitness

It struck me recently that some of the most confident, passionate and successful CEOs and Executives that I know are physically active, despite the many demands and pressures placed on their time. In fact, when I tested this hypothesis I found that there is a strong co-relation between physical and mental health. Specifically, being committed to physical health results in the ability to think clearly, sustain higher levels of energy and generally reduce stress.

Sounds like a magic pill I realize, but it seems to me that the co-relation is something that any serious CEO simply can’t ignore.

In this weeks brief video I explore this idea further, sharing some examples and ideas of how to build a stronger “physical frame of health” that will in turn yield a stronger frame of mind.

click here to watch video

If you enjoy this video, make sure you check out my podcast series “The CEOs Power Play” where every week I discuss other practices based on the actions and habits of the most successful and powerful CEOs.

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YOU MAY BE THE GREATEST OBSTACLE TO GROWING YOUR TEAM

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I meet with CEOs and Presidents of mid-market companies each and every week, and one commonality stands out amongst all other. Businesses that grow are lead by CEOs that believe their employees collectively have more intelligence then they do. Put another way, despite the background and experience of the CEO or President, he or she clearly recognizes that their employees are actually more knowledgeable in the business, the customers and the marketplace then the CEO can ever possibly be.

Let me share with you a recent example of two very different CEOs.

The first is someone I met following a talk I delivered. When we discussed the ideas I spoke of and how they might apply to her business, the CEO suggested that they’ve always recognized her employees have more ideas then she and her entire executive team did, but had never, until my talk, recognized how simple it actually is to tap into the ideas and put them to work in order to improve the business.

The second CEO is someone I met several years ago. He built his business from the ground up, and to this day still is actively involved in the business, some 25 years after it’s inception. Yet his activity tends to be sporadic, dropping into meetings, challenging the ideas of employees and constantly referring to the way things “used to be done.”

Which of these two CEOs do you think has the most motivated and productive staff? Which has the highest turn over amongst new employees? Which has more support then their executive team? The answer of course would be the first CEO I referenced above.

Now I’m sharing this not to suggest there is something specifically wrong with either approach. Being involved in what’s happening in the business on the front lines is critically important to staying connected with the performance of the business, however one of these CEOs has a team of very supportive, engaged and interested employees, whereas another does not.

More importantly, the first CEO has employees who can step up and make educated and supportive decisions that support the business, rather than defer everything to the CEO (which is what tends to happen in the second instance).

So, my question for you today is quite simple. When you reflect on how you interact with your team today, are you being inclusive and building a team that is strong without you, or are you inadvertently building a greater and greater reliance on you as a leader of the team.

One approach is clearly more sustainable and less stressful then the other.

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GROWING YOUR BUSINESS? AVOID THESE MISTAKES

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How to increase your profit

Growing a business relies on a very simple formula, namely to offer something of value to both existing and new customers. The challenge however is ensuring what you are offering is of value and remains of value over the long term. It’s this later point that trips up many of the CEOs and Executives I meet.

You see the only way to provide something that remains of value is to clearly understand where your customer’s business is going (or where they would like to see it go), which in turn provides you with the intelligence to design ever more valuable products and services.

To provide something that remains of value you must know where your customer’s business is going.

During a recent client engagement I was asked to help the CEO and his executive team grow their business. My logical starting point was to speak with the key departments that interact with customers, namely Sales, Marketing and Customer Service. What I found was shocking.

In this brief video I outline my findings and more importantly share some proven practices that you can introduce into your business to ensure growth is a constant.

Click here to watch video

So which of these ideas are you employing in your business today? Which should you introduce today? What about next month?

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SPEED IS POWER

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Motion Blur from a Tokyo Monorail

Last week I spoke to 4 different groups of CEOs and Executives for TEC, it was what I would call a world wind tour of sorts. One of the key messages that I was sharing was that in today’s fast paced world, speed is absolute power when it comes to bringing new products or services to the marketplace. The faster you can deliver a new product that improves upon what your existing or potential customers may be using, the faster you will grab market share and profitability!

It goes deeper then this however. We’re not just talking about speed to market here, but instead the ability to quickly attain, define, dissect and act upon ideas that are presented by your customers, employees or even suppliers in the marketplace.

Let me put it a different way, if you agree that new, bold and fresh ideas are as good as gold (better yet money!), then by applying speed you increase your ability to capitalize on the ideas and make more money. Speed is Power!

Here are a few ideas I shared with the CEOs on how to increase their speed and make more money.

  • Don’t wait for ideas to meander in the door, solicit the marketplace for them. Just look at Proctor and Gambles “Connect + Develop” platform. Whether you are an inventor or a multinational company, P&G wants your ideas and provides the tools and method to do so.
  • Stop reacting to customer complaints and instead solicit customer feedback. Where is their business going in the next 3 years and what can you do to help them get there?
  • Stop forcing your customers to escalate their concerns or issues. Empower your employees to quickly act on customer requests or ideas and provide a means to collect information on these requests to allow consideration for introduction of a new product or service.

There are literally dozens of ways to improve the speed by which you can introduce and capitalize on feedback and input from customers, employees and the marketplace. So stop assessing what the results of your latest survey monkey suggest your customers or employees want and create the means to hold dialogue with these parties to understand.

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