- On February 9, 2014
- audit, change
It happens in every business the work process to escape from owner’s expectations. It is obvious that some measures should be taken. What kind of measures and when to take them?
And do we know what changes to apply so that the company grows?
In theory everything is easy. But what do the owners and managers think about where the company should be directed?
Some time ago, I had an interesting meeting with an owner of a small production company. The problems there were caused not by the crises but by the lack of quality personnel. The owner shared that he has been working almost day-and-night but he couldn’t see the expected positive result. We went quickly through the processes and the employees and it appeared from a first sight that the only driving force was the owner. The employees (except the production workers) were marionettes who were waiting orders what to do and how to do it. There was one manager with 5-years’ experience in this firm, who couldn’t take even a simple decision. The owner knew about these problems but he was reluctant to release these pleasant people, many of which were relatives.
Undoubtedly the problem starts with the owner, who has chosen to work with marionettes, doesn’t want or cannot delegate, he is exhausted by operational work and doesn’t know how to continue.
The dictum “if something went all right till now should not be changed” is locked in many managers’ minds due to fear from changes or overloading with other urgent tasks. If we are owners, the fear from the change, or more precisely, the fear from the result of this change blocks our actions when we don’t have the knowledge or when we are not sure in our resources. If we are managers, the fear from the change usually is derived by lack of competency, not to ruin our comfort or not to fire us. Each of us reacts differently and has a motive for his behavior. But we should not forget that many employees depend on us.
Things which had run till now and hadn’t been changed should be reviewed and adjusted to the new business conditions. The lack of adaptation leads to falling behind, missing opportunities and instability.
When we at last look in reality’s eyes and understand that something should be done, if we want to stay on the market and go ahead with big steps, we wrap bravely the idea for change and start working on it. STOP!
We’d better start the change by first analyzing the current situation, to look for an independent opinion in the certain area, to make a realistic plan and then to act. It is not so important if a change can be done in a month or two. More important is the result to accelerate our development in the right direction and in the shortest possible term.
Let’s assume that we have decided to make a change. Where to start from? It’s easy: from the bottleneck. If we have allowed this place to become a bottleneck, it means that we were short in time for management, or resources, or knowledge. We find support, make a plan and start. The plan is for our orientation how much time would the project take, what resource will be occupied, what would be the result. During the action, wherever is possible, we shorten the time as much as possible but not on quality account. Our temperament and the company status dictate the tempo:
- Some managers prefer to make the changes slowly, with the current personnel who were loyal for many years. They feed the hope that the employees would wake up, would show initiative (which till now was not shown) and the company would go ahead … when the time comes. I don’t want to disappoint you but if till now this personnel had moved slowly-slowly, why do you think that at once their eyes would shine and their efforts would shoot the firm in top ten?
- Others prefer fast change, change of personnel, but no change in their own mentality. Have you noticed that we usually hire people whose character is similar to ours? The highest motivator is to lead by example – thus, except inquiring from others, we have to show full engagement to the project, even if this means to change ourselves first.
- Third section managers prefer quick change where and when it is necessary. If everybody were in this category, probably the perfect competition would have existed also. On other hand, if you are in this category, you have taken measures for the correct change.
We shouldn’t be afraid from the big volume of work which will come. We can achieve everything step by step. Even elephant can be eaten bite by bite every day.
The possible steps which would result in a successful change are:
- Audit of processes and people from an external expert. This audit gives a recommendation and a plan for healing the ill places. Such periodical checks are very useful and are our compass where do we go.
- Creating a clear and realistic plan with tasks, responsible and deadlines. This is the kick-off from where we start corrections and go ahead. Everyone engaged with any process must roll up sleeves and act according the deadlines, nevertheless there would be difficult times.
- Change of employees who, even loyal in the years, do not contribute to firm’s progress. Change of employees who harm the company.
- Creating and adapting the internal rules and procedures, obligatory for everyone. Procedures are often underestimated by middle and small business and thus delegation there is difficult. The procedures are the manual which guide who is doing what in the chain, who is responsible and the working process – this is how the business runs even when the manager is out of the office or the factory.
- Control – the highest form of trust. We are all people, we all make mistakes; but some people make mistakes deliberately. Thus, after the change, we have to check the pulse of each department, periodically and instantly, via the control mechanisms implemented by the procedures.
The changes should be rapid but planned and controlled. They should lead to planned in advance higher performance level and better finance result. The correct structured changes open the door for the next level of resource management, optimization and higher profit. And when we look through them we shall see that they are not the necessary evil but a chance for growth.