Is your organization one for whom “business as usual” no longer works? Whether that result is precipitated by fewer customers, budget cutbacks, employee layoffs and/or furloughs, or some other unplanned change, the point is that you find yourself having to do more with less. The question I hear most often is, “How do we operate given our new reality?”
Although not an exhaustive list, here are six steps to get you started on optimizing your results now and on positioning your organization for success in the coming recovery.
1. Identify clearly the value the organization provides for its customers or clients.
Organizations cannot optimize results if the value they provide is not crystal clear to all parties. Value is the benefit customers/clients receive (from their perspective) as a result of having purchased the products or services.
2. Make sure everyone and everything in the organization supports the value it provides.
Every person, process, program, and policy must contribute to the organization’s value. If they do not, the organization is wasting resources.
It is critical that every employee see clearly the value the organization offers and, importantly, how he/she contributes to providing it. When both these conditions are met, workers are inspired to perform their best because they understand the importance of the roles they play.
3. Empower employees by teaching them that they always have choices.
While there are many situations over which we have little or no control, we have two sets of choices about how to address them. First, we always have control over how we view our situations because we get to choose how we experience them. For example, we can choose to see the current economic downturn as an opportunity to be leveraged, or we can decide to see it as an obstacle against which we are helpless to act.
Second, we get to choose what types of action to take. In a program I offer called Influencing Options®, I teach people about the three empowering, healthy options they have in any situation:
1. Influence – i.e., try to change the external circumstances.
2. Accept – i.e., change their internal mindset and truly let it go.
3. Remove – i.e., leave, either immediately or in the future.
4. Prioritize by assessing the extent to which every person, program, process, and policy supports the value the organization provides.
Once the organization’s value is clarified, management must be relentless about judging everything in the organization against this standard: “How much does it contribute to the value we offer?” If the answer is “nothing,” stop doing it or get rid of it! Keep those people and things that are critical to providing the value – i.e., the organization would be unable to provide the value if they were missing. As resources permit, add the people and things that are very important (from the customers’ and clients’ perspective) – i.e., they add significantly to the quality of the value – then those that are important. Under no circumstances should management add or retain people or things that fail to contribute to the value provided by the organization.
5. Support and nurture your managers, especially those on the front lines.
It is more important than ever for organizations to support their management team, especially those who work most closely with employees. This is not the time to skimp on the training and development that prepares them for their critical roles! If they do not feel supported, how can they possibly be expected to inspire and support their employees? Researchers repeatedly have shown that
supervisors’ behaviors have a direct impact on employee behaviors and attitudes.
6. Be as open and transparent in providing information as possible.
It’s in everyone’s best interests for employees to be fully informed. Let them in on as much of the decision-making as possible. Communicate process and results frequently and widely. If people believe the decision-making process is fair, they will accept the results even if they don’t like or agree with them.
You may think that you cannot afford to take any of the above actions. My question is, how can you afford not to take them? The organization’s short-term survival and its long-term ability to thrive are at stake.
© Pat Lynch 2009. All rights reserved.