Written by: Don Hadley
As part of our ongoing effort to provide additional value to the business leaders in our community, everyone in our firm was “fired” on a recent Friday and given new titles and priorities beginning the following Monday.
While it seems like a drastic tactic to try, the desired effect was achieved. As the newly appointed “Director of Continually Expanding Patterns of Thinking” my approach to things has changed..
Most businesses are struggling with issues such as declining sales, increased competition for the same revenue or project, and sometimes the hard reality of laying off employees. The same approach that worked in the past to handle the current business challenges no longer works because the environment has changed. We have to change the way we think in order to change the way we act (and react) to what’s going on around us.
Presented here are some ideas to help you and those around you change and expand patterns of thinking:
Question your employees, clients, suppliers and other important relationships. Ask them why they work there, why they choose to work with you, what they value about your relationship. Ask yourself these same questions about each of these relationships. What could make them better? What is the “secret ingredient” that you bring to the table so that these people have a desire to continue doing business with you instead of a competitor? How do you want each of these people to feel after an interaction with you? What do you want them to know about you?
•Have a long-term vision
People need goals to work toward. Without a clear result, a finish line – a World Series, if you will – motivation and taking actions toward the vision become a problem. Developing the vision for the organization does not have to be complicated, but it should be inclusive and allow for the contributions of employees. Many business leaders are surprised to learn that sometimes the employees have a larger vision for the company and what is possible than they do.
Those of you who work with us may already know the Cathedral Story:
Three men were breaking boulders. A passerby was walking past and wondered what they were doing. When he asked the first man what he was doing, the passerby got the response “I am breaking up boulders.” Upon asking the second man, a clearer, more encouraging response came: “I am working to make money so my family and I can live well.” When he asked the third man the same question, he replied, “I am helping to build a cathedral.” You and your team need to see the cathedral they are helping to build.
•Streamline processes and procedures
Scheduling the review of processes and procedures allows positive change to occur. Asking why do we do this, is there a better way, is there a faster way, is there a way that would please our customer more, can this process be eliminated or a step added to another process to allow this one’s elimination, does this process provide us any value in terms of customer data or financial reporting, what’s missing from this process and – most importantly – is it written down so that our collective knowledge is captured and does not need to be re-learned or re-taught?
•Engage the team
Taking a step back to assess your team on an ongoing basis is important to ensure that you have the right people in the right positions taking the right actions for the business. Determining areas for improvement, building consensus, having good conflict, and striving for high performance are critical to having a true team and not simply a working group. We are hired on a regular basis to interview key members of a team to get feedback on the company, the leaders and the employees. These interviews result in recommendations on coaching and mentoring that is needed, leadership direction, and tactical areas and processes to improve such as sales, estimating, hiring processes, incentive plans and succession planning. Some view team building exercises as “fluffy” or nice to do, but experience tells us that when each member of a team understands and appreciates the strengths and background of all the other members, they are able to work more effectively together. Regular evaluations of all team members also contribute to increased effectiveness, particularly when viewed in the context of the overall vision for the company’s future. By having employees with strengths and capabilities that fit their position, as well as seeking out new talent to fill anticipated needs, will result in long-term success for the team, the company and the community.
If you are interested in learning more about changing your patterns of thinking and how it can help you and your team avoid missed opportunities, please contact us at 1-800-786-4332. Visit our website www.appliedvisionworks.com for case studies on the issues you are facing and discover ideas on how to make needed change occur in your organization.