PDS On Performance

performance improvement ideas and some common business sense

Performance Improvement – Where Do I Start?

Written By: Terry Merriman - Mar• 20•12

I suppose there’s nothing like picking a tough question to tackle first on this forum, but this is the one every executive or manager faces when the train (your business) has jumped the tracks. Do I boost revenue somehow? Do I cut costs, and, if so, where? Do I cut staff? Do I reinvent the business? Do I reinvent my team? Any or all of those are possible answers; but let me suggest an “out of the box” idea.

Get introspective and examine what and how you communicate with others inside and outside of your organization.  I know, it sounds nuts, maybe like I’m going all touchy-feely on you instead of putting on my accounting hat and facing the numbers, or it sounds too simple; but hear me out. If your people; i.e., your associates, clients, and vendors, don’t know what you want to accomplish, they cannot help to make it happen. And if you don’t communicate your goals in a clear and complete way that gains their commitment, they will be confused by the message and unable to translate it into action. In other words, re-railing the train may be just a matter of getting all of your people on the same page.

So test the communication waters. Here’s a three step approach:

  1. Ask one or more of your employees, partners, or associates to tell you the main purpose of your business or, on a smaller scale, of the change you’re trying to implement. If their responses don’t match your vision or mission for the business or the desired change, you have a communication problem.
  2. Ask those same people to tell you what they think you expect them to do to help achieve the business purpose or implement the desired change. If they can’t, you have people doing unnecessary things or not doing necessary things; and, you have a communication problem.
  3. Tell those same people what you think they expect of you. If they don’t agree, you are doing things they don’t believe are necessary or not doing things they believe are necessary; and, you have a communication problem.

Use this simple test and you may find that you need do nothing more radical than communicate better to improve business results. If you find that you really are all on the same page then you may have some bigger business issues to address, but you’ve avoided the mistake of attacking the symptom and not the underlying problem, particularly if that problem happens to be ineffective communication.

Don’t think that improving communications is as simple as scheduling an employee meeting, sending a memo, or starting a company newsletter; it’s not. Getting people to stop assuming and start communicating very specific needs and expectations, and then to gain agreement and accept accountability for those expectations is a demanding and daunting process. However, it is an essential part of everyone’s workflow, and essential to business success. We call it the Expectations Approach; and, by the way, we can help.

Thinking out of the box…

Terry