Five Simple Solutions To Achieve Immediate Results!
The following five solutions are based upon our experience and observations of American business and some of the recent trends that have been emerging. These solutions can be implemented within any organization, large or small, within any industry and are not dependent on or affected by organizational structure. For these solutions to have an immediate and sustained positive impact on the organization, it is best that the senior leadership embrace, enforce and model these behaviors/actions. These solutions are simple, inexpensive and will have an immediate and sustained positive impact on your organization if implemented.Return Telephone Calls and Emails – Same Day!
It sounds simple and it really is, but it is amazing how many companies practice not returning telephone calls. Our work in the area of customer service indicates that it does not matter who is calling, a customer with a million dollar project, a vendor, or an individual seeking immediate assistance, it has become acceptable to not return telephone calls for days on end. There is even the attitude that if the call was important they will call again. We see the same attitude and inaction with emails. As companies move deeper into the electronic age, emails in some cases have replaced telephone calls. This replacement has given some individuals, who are not customer focus, one more way to be non responsive.
We have also observed a pervasive attitude in some companies that when an individual is traveling, he/she has a built in excuse to be non responsive, no matter what the issue might be. In fact, individuals will actually program their outgoing voicemail to alert callers that they will be away from the office for the remainder of the week and will not be available for contact. The last time we checked, almost everyone in the business world has a cellphone, pager or access to a telephone while on the road and it is amazing that individuals think that business can wait until they return to the office.
These attitudes and corresponding inaction that has taken over some businesses must stop. Individuals who cannot multitask, i.e. travel and return telephone and email messages in a timely manner should not be given the responsibility to travel on company business. If a person truly cannot return messages while on the road, then they should not leave the office.
There is also a wrongful perception by some that if I return a call immediately, people may think that I am not busy or have nothing to do. This is not the case, in fact, some of the busiest individuals we know at very high levels within organizations return all calls immediately.
For the good of the organization’s bottom line, we recommend that leaders set the expectation and implement the practice that all telephone calls and emails are returned same day (within 24 hours) no matter what the time zone may be. If this means that a traveling executive has to get up at 5 a.m. on west coast to contact an individual on the east coast at 8 a.m., so be it!
Leaders must model this behavior themselves and set the example for others. This is truly a competitive advantage and will be noticed and applauded by all who have contact with you. We are often told by our clients, “I did not expect to hear back from you today.” Our response is that we return calls same day, no matter where we are or what the circumstances may be! This truly amazes our clients and sets a positive tone and expectation for future interactions.Rid the Organization of “Busyness”
We have observed a concerning trend over the last 18 months that organizations have been overcome by “busyness.” This “busyness” has resulted in an attitude and practice that makes it acceptable not to respond or deliver as promised because “we are just so busy!”
With the recent months of downsizing within many organizations, individuals have been given additional responsibilities to offset others who are no longer with the organization. Although this additional responsibility may account for some of the busyness that we are seeing, it should not be allowed to become an excuse by individuals and organizations for failing to accomplish things or be responsive.
Leaders must assess their key individuals and make decisions as to whether they have the skills, ability, attitude and work ethic to accomplish their responsibilities. We often hear that individuals are busy, but when you attempt to contact them at 3:00 p.m., you are told that they have left for the day or you may be told that they are on a golf outing or attending a sporting event during business hours. We are not saying that individuals should not enjoy some of the benefits that are available, but we are saying that individuals who are “straight out busy” and cannot get things done, should not be rewarded with or allowed to take part in outside activities until all other work has been completed.
Leaders who are constantly being told that their people are too busy, need to ask the following questions:
- Do my people have the right skill set and ability to multitask?
- Are they focused on the right things and are they delegating responsibility?
- Is my team making the best use of their time, or are they wasting time?
- Are people being held responsible to deliver on their commitments?
If the answer is “no” to any of the above questions, it is in the leaders and the organizations best interest to reassess the individuals who are in key positions and make peaceful decisions as to whether there is are missing skills, if it is a training issue or if the problem is attitude or motivation related. Once this is assessed, corrective action must be taken immediately.Require Timely Decisive Action
So many organizations have adopted and practice an attitude of indecisiveness at all levels. This indecisiveness has deep-rooted negative consequences and if left to continue can ultimately destroy the organization.
The following are some indicators that an organization may have a challenge making timely decisions:
- The same topic appears on multiple meeting agendas.
- Multiple “special meetings” are called to rehash the same decision or components of that decision.
- The owner of the decision abdicates the decision making process to someone else, using words like “my dog’s not in this fight.”
- The decision is placed “on the back burner” for another time or placed on indefinite hold.
- An “I don’t care what happens” attitude is adopted by individuals who are part of the decision making process.
Any or all of the above indicators are telling about individuals or organization’s ability or inability to make timely decisions. Often decisions are allowed to move into a never-ending research mode and as a result, nothing ever is decided or accomplished. We have observed organizations that have actually crippled themselves with analysis paralysis by gathering, reviewing and discussing their research to no end.
The following are some recommendations to ensure that decisions are made on a timely basis:
- Assign an owner to each decision and provide them with the power and authority to make the final call.
- Follow a predefined process for obtaining needed information and resources.
- Set a reasonable time for all research to be gathered and reviewed.
- Set a final date when the decision must be made.
- Hold the owner responsible to make the decision by the agreed upon date.
- If the final and agreed upon decision does not turn out well for company, do not allow negative consequences to occur against the decision maker if all the above steps were followed.
- Take action to replace the owner if he/she is unwilling, unable or uninterested in making the decision within these guidelines.
Making decisions is not a difficult task. Often times individuals have the ability to make decisions but are fearful that they may make a mistake and that their mistake might have negative consequences. Individuals should be held accountable for their decisions as well as their lack of making timely decisions. People who make continual bad decisions or who abdicate or fail to make decisions should be removed from the decision making process, which in some cases will require that they be demoted or exited from the organization.Get “out of the weeds”
Does your organization practice deductive or inductive reasoning? See our recent article entitled “Reasoning Styles And Organizational Success Creation.”
Those organizations that practice inductive reasoning tend to get caught up in the weeds or the details at the cost of forward productive action. These organizations become paralyzed in the details and spend valuable time making sure that every “i” is dotted and every “t” crossed. One way to determine if your organization falls into this category is to attend a meeting and look for the following signs:
· Does the meeting start on time or are individuals allowed to wander in throughout the meeting?
· Is there a published meeting agenda and is that agenda followed?
· Is there a definite starting and ending time for the meeting and is it adhered to?
· Does the meeting have a leader that keeps the group on task and moving forward?
· Are there required actions, individual assignments and formal follow-up as a result of the meeting?
If you can answer “no” to any of the above items, you may need to take a closer look at your organization and its ability to focus on the big picture issues rather than minute and ancillary details.
Allowing organizations to remain in the weeds can have tremendously negative consequences on its ability to compete in the marketplace in which it does business. Forward thinking and acting companies are the ones that are on the cutting edge due to their ability to cut through the details and focus on the key items at hand through the use of deductive reasoning. Create a positive culture and atmosphere of FUN!
What kind of culture and atmosphere does your organization have? Is it a culture and atmosphere in which people work hard, are rewarded for their hard work and have fun, or is it one in which people hate to go to go to work and tend to avoid it at all costs?
Fun organizations, as described by their employees, have some or all of the following characteristics:
· There is a true feeling of “team” within the organization.
· Individuals are given responsibility and the corresponding authority to exercise that responsibility.
· Accountability is high at all levels within the organization.
· People are rewarded for the right reasons.
· Communication is prevalent and regular within the organization.
· People have trust and confidence in their leadership.
Lets look at each of these in more detail.
There is a true feeling of “team” within the organization – This specifically gets at the issue of inclusion of individuals within the organization. True “team” environments are ones in which individuals feel involved and know that their input will be welcomed, valued and considered.
Individuals are given responsibility and the corresponding authority to exercise that responsibility - We often see individuals who are given extensive responsibility with little or no authority. This is most telling when it comes to making financial decisions for the organization. Individuals who have P&L responsibility for millions of dollars often have their hands tied in making decisions for amounts as little as $500. These individual must receive multiple levels of approval, which slows the process and demeans the individual’s authority. Organizations have implemented these processes many times because someone at sometime made a bad decision which cost the company money. Unfortunately, the entire organization pays the price for this one individual when the individual should have been dealt with one-on-one rather than negatively impacting everyone.
Accountability is high at all levels within the organization - Organizations must have high accountability if they are to thrive in today’s marketplace. An organization’s procedures and practices must match if the organization is to be credible. There can never be two sets of rules within the organization, in other words, this is what the policy says, but this is how we do things here. This sort of activity will only result in mistrust within the organization and a loss of respect for authority.
People are rewarded for the right reasons - Along with accountability, there must a reward system that provide incentives for doing things right. Organizations need to step back and inquire as to what they are rewarding their people for and if those rewards are eliciting the types of actions, behaviors and performance that are positively impacting the organization. If we are rewarding people for actions or activities that are having a negative impact on the organization, this type of reward must cease. An example would be rewarding a buyer to buy goods at a reduced price, saving the company in the cost of goods, only to have that particular item sit in the warehouse because the item was not a hot seller, thus resulting in increased warehouse costs and having to ultimately sell the item at a loss to move the inventory.
Communication is prevalent and regular within the organization – Communication of both successes and failures must take place within the organization at all levels. Companies that fail to communicate when things are good as well when things are bad do themselves and their employees a disservice. Allowing the street to dictate the message can have extremely negative consequences, because the organization losses faith in its leadership and leadership losses control of what is being said and how it is being interpreted. Communication verbally and in writing is extremely important and must take place on a regular basis.
People have trust and confidence in their leadership – One of the keys to good leadership is building trust and confidence by modeling the types of behaviors that organizations require of its employees. With the recent scandals that have swept American business, it is critical that leaders realize the important of being forthright and honest with their workers and not engaging in any activities that could be perceived to be questionable. Conclusion
The above solutions are simple and do not require extensive work or capital to implement. Organizations who embrace these as well as other solutions within their organization will begin to see immediate and sustained results toward a more effective, profitable, fun and customer focused working environment.
Because one of our areas of specialty is organizational effectiveness and financial performance, please contact us through the Contact Us button on the left of your screen or call us at 480-467-0344 and we would be pleased to clarify any of the above points.