Spring is almost upon us, and it’s normal to feel a sense of renewal as daylight hours increase, warm weather returns, and flowers bloom. How are you channeling some of this springtime energy into positive changes for your business?
When people engage to do business with a company, they are typically placing their trust in its operations. They see the quality in the services or products offered and have expectations those products and services will be delivered smoothly. Behind these operations, of course, are the people who develop processes and carry them out.
People are the heart of your business, in more ways than one — if there’s a problem with your personnel, it impacts all parts of your business. To keep your people and operations running efficiently, you want to choose the right employees and make sure they are in the positions best suited for their abilities and personalities.
Human beings are complicated, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Your operational structures can help set people up to succeed. And if they don’t succeed at first, there should be a pathway written into your business’s operations for them to learn from a mistake and carry on.
GPS: Fundamentals: People & Operations
Operations refers to the nuts and bolts of how employees fulfill their roles and responsibilities. These encompass the procedures a new hire learns during their onboarding process and how those procedures work with the roles of others in the company. People, of course, are the ones filling those spots. Each employee brings a unique set of skills and needs, and a good human resources department will make sure each person fits in well and feels their needs are met.
What people need to thrive
Compensation is only part of this package. Employees should be working on projects that fit their talents and pique their interest. A vital need all people have is to understand their purpose and feel valued in their effort toward that purpose. And many employers simply aren’t meeting that need.
According to a Gallup survey released earlier this year, employee engagement has declined recently, with only 32% reporting they are actively engaged at the workplace. The biggest reasons cited were that the workplace lacked “clarity of expectations” or “connection to the mission or purpose of the company.”
To succeed, first and foremost people need the stability of succinct operations — clearly defined roles and responsibilities help an employee properly understand and work toward their goal. Operational items that help your people find success and job satisfaction include an understanding of what is expected; clear schedules and deadlines; procedures that are spelled out and consistent; regular feedback; and a process for handling missteps.
Handling missteps is one of the most important procedures to map out, because in order to achieve their potential, people need an environment where they can take risks and solve problems. They have chances to fail and chances to recover.
The ability to thrive is also a matter of which role in the business each employee is fulfilling. Bestselling author and business advisor Jim Collins uses the metaphor of a bus with many seats: “If it’s somebody who’s really proven themselves in one seat and they’re failing in another seat,” he wrote, “there’s somehow something that is wrong about either the seat selection or the development process of that person for the seat.”
Beyond birthday cards: Creating a culture
These clearly defined roles and responsibilities, coupled with a workforce that feels challenged, empowered, and engaged, adds up to your company culture. A business’s culture is often easier to talk about than to create — it’s not all touchy-feely workplace “vibe” involving pajama parties and free pizza. In fact, these events seem corny and patronizing if employees are already unhappy due to operational problems.
Rather, the culture of a workplace is based on shared core values and the security employees all feel when they are given clear expectations and procedures. Forget those weekend retreats doing ropes courses — problem-solving together is the best team-building exercise, and that takes place every day in a company with solid operations in place.
“Letting the wrong people hang around is unfair to all the right people, as they inevitably find themselves compensating for the inadequacies of the wrong people. Worse, it can drive away the best people. Strong performers are intrinsically motivated by performance, and when they see their efforts impeded by carrying extra weight, they eventually become frustrated.”
“From Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t”
— Jim Collins,
While we’ve discussed the ways clear and well-prepared operations can foster growth in your employees, there’s also the issue of when someone must be let off the bus. Having policies in place for letting someone go, and adhering to those policies, keeps the health of the company above the individual concerns of any one employee. Being slow to hire and quick to fire is a well-established concept in business, one that preserves time and resources (and minimizes damage) when it becomes clear someone is not aligned with the company culture and mission.
Every business that grows will experience growing pains. It can be difficult to relinquish control of some aspects of a business, especially if you have worked most of your life to build that business from the ground up.
By putting the right people in the right roles, you are creating a path for your business to grow — based on your vision, without your constant supervision. Setting up a framework from scratch, or examining the existing one, can be a daunting task. Many business owners simply feel too close to their day-to-day operations to get a full picture of how their people and operations could be improved.
At Eagle Corporate Advisors, we specialize in bringing that outside, big-picture perspective, along with a proven methodology, to provide business owners with a game plan that will accomplish their goals.