Starting a business can be tough. Taking care of business can encompass decisions such as obtaining funding, to deciding to have a home office or go elsewhere and the ramifications of each. Other business elements include ensuring that all the right legal documents are in place. These can include county, state, and federal documents depending on your business. Alternatively, documents can include partnership agreements that can help prevent or at least lessen expensive legal disagreements later as the business matures and perhaps takes on even more partners. Then there is the business of getting the word out about your business and selling your products or services. Then, there’s the business of the business. This includes the everyday nuts and bolts of operations, customer service and management. These considerations might be daunting enough. However, as a business grows, each stage of the business has its own business issues. The good news is that these patterns are predictable. Therefore, anticipation and preparation can help ease the pains of growing a business. Here is how to take care of business during different growth stages.
The pressure for executives, managers and supervisors to stay on top of performance management (PM) is tremendous. However, the question is, do they understand the why of PM and its benefits? Why should they bother? After all, the people they manage are responsible working adults who don’t require monitoring like a group of third graders. Right? Well, er, umm, in some cases yes, in other cases, you would be amazed. The truth of the matter is that each member of an organization brings value, intelligence, and talent to an organization and its goals. Further, workers, especially the younger generation, want meaningful work. There is more at stake than one may realize.
In Peter Fischer’s book, Navigating the Growth Curve, the author suggests that business models should be profit-driven, people-oriented, and growth-smart. He goes on to suggest that people spend about 70% of their time at work. Now we can begin to understand the impact that PM can have on the organization, profits and people. Therefore, establishing a true PM system involving people in the organization’s goals, mission and vision drive performance to specific targets and higher levels. Once a year reviews are not a true PM system. Further, most managers dislike delivering them and usually hate HR for making them conduct them. However, a true PM system and meaningful work become a powerful force to meet the needs of the organization. Benefits from PM are realized organization wide, for supervisors/managers, and employees Let’s look at some specific benefits that a true PM system brings.
Sara, a customer service representative with your company can charm the socks off most any customer and have them eating out of her hand. She receives constant kudos on customer feedback forms. Co-workers, however, find Sara a little less charming. Sara reserves rudeness, sarcastic answers and the inability to deliver needed information for her co-workers. Is this Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde personality something that is just “hard wired” into Sara’s personality and cannot be changed?
Bill is an IT supervisor who is knowledgeable, capable and runs a tight ship. However, getting information from Bill is like trying to push an elephant up a mountain. Bill is stubborn, withholds information others need and has no sense of urgency. If organizational change is in the air, Bill becomes Negative Nellie and is always the last to get on board with the changes, if ever. Is Bill’s behavior just a personality quirk that deserves overlooking by the rest of the staff?
These types of behaviors often bamboozle managers. When confronted with a Sara type, a manager once stated, “I guess it’s just her personality and you can’t expect someone to change their personality.” This kind of thinking gives tacit approval to the individual to continue with these types of behaviors. Therefore, ignoring it or accepting it only leads to more of it. These types of behaviors do have some basis in personality. However, non-productive, rude and conflict generating behavior is unacceptable in the workplace. So what’s a manager to do?
Recently while coaching an executive, she explained that she had had a busy week of meetings. One of these meetings happened to be a Board Meeting. Asking her what was discussed, she said, there were just a few general items. One of these “general items” was a new marketing campaign. The executive also mentioned that she was on the Marketing Committee. I asked how the Marketing Committee would be interacting with the new marketing campaign. She informed me that the marketing committee had not met since the organization had acquired seven new offices from a competitor almost a year earlier. Questioning how this was, she explained that everyone had just been too busy.
We then began to discuss an upcoming marketing campaign the organization was about to launch between May and August. As it turns out there are actually three marketing campaigns going on between May and August. Two will target new customers and one will target current customers for new products and services. I began asking her about how many new customers the organization might acquire through one of its campaigns prior to the acquisition. She said about 15. We then calculated how the acquisition might increase that number. We then did this with each of the campaigns. After all of the calculating, it was determined that this organization could be looking at around 540 new customers or additional accounts from existing customers. Can your organization accommodate such growth in a four-month period? What systems and services would your organization need to have in place to ensure smooth growth? Examples might include the following.
One of the biggest drainers on a manager’s time, energy and productivity are underperformers. The reason these folks are such a drain is partly the manger’s own fault. Here’s why. Managers often do not know how to address these time eating, energy draining and productivity-robbing individuals. More often than not, it’s procrastination. The reason this task is procrastinated is that the manager dreads having such conversations. The conversation must take place.
When a manager fails to have such conversations, time eating, energy draining and productivity-robbing behaviors can infect the team, the department and even the entire organization. Soon the manager finds it difficult to concentrate, begins avoiding the non-performing individual and maybe even his or her own boss because of fear of a conversation with his own boss about the lack of progress on projects. Further, the manager may terminal termination fear. In other words, the manger keeps this employee on the job until he or she has no fear of termination and the time eating, energy draining, nonproductive behaviors are just an accepted thing. At the end of each day, the manager feels tired, listless, depressed and begins dreading going to work. What is a simple solution to such problems?
Bringing people with differing viewpoints, backgrounds, cultures, behaviors and communication styles together in the workplace, conflict is likely to rear its head. Conflict can manifest and fester in the likeness of bullying, non-cooperation, back-stabling, insulting remarks and innuendos. Results of these acts appear in low productivity, absenteeism, increased stress, illness, and failed projects. Organizational change adds even more disruptions.
Mergers and acquisitions often lead to the most conflict. A few decades ago, organizational change was rare. In the past decade, the story is different as mergers and acquisitions have increased at a rapid pace. Organizational changes are not just for large organizations anymore. At times, over 80% of small organizations will make large changes. When one considers that, only an estimated 50% of mergers are successful in the UK and that the US has an even lower success rate of 23%, it becomes glaringly clear how important it is to understand how to manage change. Here are a few guidelines.
How does an employee know how to perform his or her job without a job description? How can a job description be formulated without job analysis and a list of competencies? How can an organization know the competencies it needs unless it conducts strategic planning? As a tool, job analysis is not new. In fact, job analysis may go all the way back to Genesis, ancient China and Greece follow. However, modern, more systematic job analysis began around 1900. Using job analysis as a strategic tool, may be a more recent idea as job analysis does not always enjoy a warm welcome.
Most every organization has some type of performance management system. However, not all systems are created equal and not all systems are used for the best advantage to the organization. Most performance systems are conducted only on an annual basis. Some organizations may perform as many as two performance appraisal annually. However, a true performance management should be an ongoing process. Moreover, performance management should be aligned with the organization’s strategic goals. Further, there are many reasons and avenues allowing for the effective use of a performance management system to move an organization forward. In order to help facilitate such a process, organizations should ask four questions about a performance program.
1. Why do we use performance management systems?