- When searching for ways to improve your organization, in many situations, the best place to start is from within.
- When executed properly, improvements within your company can be beneficial for driving performance and encouraging employee progress.
- Be engaging, learn the metrics, utilize training methods and place a focus on the business; all of these are simple ways to improve your organization.
Organizational improvements are an ongoing process, and each organization has its own specific needs; however, there are common improvements that are necessary for many organizations on an ongoing basis, including:
- Strategy and mission: Changes in strategy and mission are often difficult to map out, but, as a business owner, you need to continually monitor how well – or if – your organization is meeting your mission, and you need to be prepared to change strategies if needed.
- Organizational structure: This concerns the roles, objectives, and responsibilities of individuals, departments, and teams. Structures change, some are relatively minor, while some such as mergers are considered extreme and intense.
- People: Organizational improvements in regards to personnel consist of turnover, hiring, training and other changes that will be beneficial for the organization.
- Knowledge: Changes/improvements to the knowledge of an organization is critical for process, progress and initiative.
It's a fact that the pace of change is so fast that mergers and acquisitions are on the rise as one of the best ways of achieving strategic growth. What if you're not ready or willing to merge or be acquired by another business? Check out the six steps to grow your business from within.
In our sluggish economy, a multitude of mergers and acquisitions notwithstanding, the capacity for a business to grow rests in the hands of its people.
CEOs throughout the world are driving to improve organizational performance regardless of size or industry. Much has been written and studied on this subject, and we find in myriad of surveys and books that there are six steps that, executed effectively, drive performance improvement and growth capacity.
Engage your people.
Employee engagement is one of the most written and talked about issues today in business. Below are key actions you, as a business owner, can take to enable your people to engage: to feel passionate about the work they do, deliver their best performance and to strengthen their commitment:
- Build a strong understanding of your business strategy throughout your workforce. Ensure everyone can answer the following questions: Why do customers buy from us? Who are our key competitors, and why do their customers buy from them? How do I contribute to our unique differentiation?
- Build trust. Employees need to know that their managers and executives care about them as people as well as being committed to their success.
- Make sure every employee is using his or her preferred skills and has an effective degree of autonomy.
- Focus each department on improving its procedures and targeting its activities on better achieving the company’s competitive differentiation through what people do and how they do it.
Leverage high-impact leadership practices.
Communication is king in today's organizations. It's one of the biggest challenges leaders have and is probably a weakness for many companies. Communicate clearly in simple language, creatively, interactively, daily about core business subjects, such as:
- Departmental and organization performance targets, progress, obstacles and solutions
- Stories about competitors and customer successes, i.e., from sales and customer service
- Current organizational initiatives
Identify and remove internal roadblocks.
How well aligned with your competitive differentiation strategy are your company's policies, procedures and structure? Look for indicators of misalignment such as:
- Do people need to work around policies and work procedures to get things done?
- Do your policies and work procedures enable people to get the right things done quickly?
- How are relationships between functions, i.e., manufacturing and sales? Are conflicts and frustrations routine?
Align your metrics.
To have meaning, the metrics people focus on need to be understood by them to be within their influence. Here's how metrics can help each department help your company meet is goals:
- Your metrics can provide great value when they serve as a guide to decision-making and prioritizing work.
- Nonfinancial metrics that relate directly to your competitive differentiation can help keep everyone aligned in a similar strategic direction.
- Explaining how metrics are chosen and measured, and tailoring metrics to each department can enable people to understand how they each make a difference in the company's performance.
Use training and development strategically.
Many organizations have a workforce that is approaching or past traditional retirement age. In addition, low engagement levels may lead to increased turnover as more job opportunities become available to people. Do you have training in place to enable people to perform essential work as employees leave or retire? Does your training effort prepare the organization with skills for the future? Here are ways you can ensure your employees are optimally trained for the work they do for your company:
- Develop a workforce plan to ensure hiring is done in time to develop people.
- All employees should receive training that applies to their current duties and that is future-focused.
- Develop career paths for people to progress to roles that will be needed in the future. Know your people and what their goals are for the future. Support them in channeling their paths to the future within your company.
Focus on your business strategy; you can't please every market.
Authors and experts acknowledge three types of value propositions or competitive differentiation strategies in business. The rule of thumb is still to do a good job on all, but to choose one single area where your company can and does excel. The three types are:
- Customer intimacy: Providing customization to meet each customer's individual needs, providing outstanding customer experiences and building strong, long-term customer relationships
- Operational efficiency: Providing a universal set of products and services designed to be cost-effective for customers. This is not competing on price as much as it is providing value to customers that saves them money. Do your products make customer processes more efficient, i.e., reduce downtime, improve quality?
- Leading-edge: Providing new, innovative products and services based on the latest technologies and practices. This depends on having a strong research function, with frequent introductions of new and improved products and services that are both different and effectively meet customer needs.
These six steps require ongoing effort to sustain. Compare this with your experience – how do these actions measure up in producing performance improvement? How do these steps relate to the activities underway in your organization to build performance?