Small and large companies share many of the same challenges on their paths to success. For a company to be successful, management needs to understand that many different moving pieces need to be coordinated and addressed. Fortunately, there are many successful companies that, through trial and error, have developed several best practices. These best practices can easily be adapted to any size company and guide to achieving success. Although by no means exhaustive, the following compilation of best practices outlines some of the critical points that companies should incorporate into their management strategies.
Create a Company Mission Statement: Having a clear Mission Statement is a cornerstone to the success of a company. Defining, sharing the mission statement, and ensuring that employees understand it, is key to having employees embrace it. It is an excellent exercise to have employees express how they know the mission statement and what it means to them and how to achieve what the mission is. Management needs to embody and live according to the mission statement.
Build an influential Company Culture: Employees want to know that they are valued and that they contribute to the success of the company. However, a recent Gallup poll found that only 32% of employees feel engaged in their jobs. It is up to management to change that number. More than ever, management needs to understand that employees look for a balanced work/life, being able to turn off and spend time with the family to do things they enjoy. Just as the adage states: “We Work to Live, not Live to Work!” Management needs to take the time to understand what drives its employees; it is not always about money! Often it is a simple recognition of a job well done by telling the employee that their work is appreciated or by asking them how they felt when they completed the task or job. The workforce has been changing, and companies need to embrace the changes that are taking place to attract and retain talent. It differs by position, but the flexibility to work remotely, flexible work hours, to be a valued team member, to be innovative through the use of new technologies and mediums are some of the top issues currently.
Team Expectations and accountability: Managers need to spell out clear expectations for individuals and teams and ensure they understand that they are accountable. It is essential that management provides timely and concise feedback on performance and how it can be improved.
Managers need to leave their Ego outside: Managers need to show a willingness to admit when their system is not working or failing and be prepared to change to improve. Managers need to listen to their employees and encourage them to participate in providing ideas for improving systems or processes actively. This fosters inclusiveness and employee engagement.
Processes need to have a clearly defined timeline when tasks need to be completed: When timelines are not provided, employees don’t know what is essential, what clear order of operations must be followed to improve efficiency and reduce mistakes.
Solicit feedback from your Team/Departments: It is essential to include your team in your plans and to gather input from them often to make sure your goals are aligned and to address inefficiencies and continuously improve.
Everything should be transparent: What does that mean? Often management feels that it is transparent in its methods and processes to achieve defined goals. However, research has shown that employees often have a very different perception. Management needs to provide employees the opportunity to ask questions and to listen to them, engage them, and explain your vision and how they fit into that vision.
Document your processes: You need to provide clear and concise documentation for your team to reduce miscommunication as much as possible. This also leaves little room for your team not to know what to do or how to do something. Miscommunication and a lack of concisely stated processes often result in tremendous amounts of time being wasted in an organization. By documenting your procedures, it keeps your organization from being reliant on any one person and simplifies onboarding and orienting new employees.
Measurement: Another best practice is to use a data-driven or measurement decision-making process, whether in finance, production, operations, or design. You need to be able to objectively determine how efficient and well your company is performing by developing Key Performance Indicators (“KPIs”) that measure relevant information. Owners often forget the data collection process as they strive to grow and address ongoing challenges. Data-driven decision making should not be an afterthought but needs to be proactively employed.
People: Choose the right people. Nobody is going to be the best at everything. Choose the right person and personality type for each role so that no one is doing tasks that they resent. Make sure you choose people that fit in with your company culture. You can teach someone how to perform a task, but you can’t show attitude or aptitude. Focus on leveraging strengths and passions and empower people to their jobs. Hire people who want to own the project, operation, from start to finish. This person should be obsessed with the details, the metrics, the numbers. They should be elated when they hit their goal and inspired to do better when they miss it. Employee development is a critical factor in creating a successful business; this goes beyond the initial time when an employee joins a company. Training, coaching, and development activities need to do on an ongoing basis and are vital to attracting and keeping talented employees.
Sales: Provide an excellent customer experience by researching your customers and understanding their needs and wants and providing them with solutions tailored to them. It is essential to follow up with clients and to get feedback on their experience working with your company. It provides you with the ability to continuously adapt and make changes to improve and provide a consistently positive experience that lives up to your company’s brand or image promise. Best practices show that the most successful companies focus on selling based on value rather than price. How a company is viewed in the industry and by its customers, is not only defined by its successes but how it handles those demanding or even dissatisfied customers. Management needs to set clear and achievable targets for the sales team members and provide the tools and technology to allow them to do so. Companies need to foster a culture whereby best practices are identified and shared between the various departments or teams.
Operations: Create and provide the best product and customer experience at the best price. The key to operational excellence is to use systematic and predictable planning to complete projects on time. Develop methodologies and process outlines to reduce the time and effort required to create a consistently high-quality outcome. Streamline and integrate the processes from the initial customer or client contact to the completion of the sale or service invoicing, and the customer follow up. Best practices dictate that the application and effective use of metrics, technology, and culture are needed to achieve a leadership position for the long term.
Build for the Future: By performing semi-annual updates of your S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, you can better plan for possible changes in your industry and business and make sure your plans are focused on staying relevant. Keep in mind what is essential in building a secure future for your company: People (Organization, Human Resources, Succession Planning), Sales (Sales, Marketing, Customer Service), Operations (Workflow Operations, Processes, Technology), Measurement (Financial Controls, Costing Systems, Reporting), and Product/Service.
By adopting and implementing best practices, it is possible to develop processes, systems, and metrics that will lead to an efficient, collaborative and enjoyable work environment coupled with the ability to achieve planned profit targets and growth. In other words, the ultimate goal of adopting best practices is to build a platform for creating value for the investors and shareholders (owners) of the company for the long term.
At Cogent Analytics, we never stop looking for ways to improve your business and neither should you. So, check out some of our other posts for helpful business information: