How much is waste costing your organization? It’s possible you may not have thought much about it before. After all, things are busier than they’ve ever been and we all have our jobs to do. As long as we can get the work done and enough funds are coming in the door, it’s a good day, right?
You’ve heard the old adage “a penny saved is a penny earned.” But consider the following business scenario: if your operating profit is 10% and you are able to eliminate enough waste to lower your costs by 10%, your profits will nearly double without earning any addition revenue. Pennies aren’t worth much in today’s dollars, but add a few zeros on the end and it adds up quickly.
You don’t need to be in a profit-producing role or be Six Sigma certified to be a productivity leader. There’s waste everywhere – in for-profit and non-profit organizations alike – and in every function. It’s a leadership responsibility to identify and drive out waste when we see it.
You don’t have to look far to look far to see the verbal abuse bosses take. Whether it’s water cooler gossip, happy hour banter or social media posts, people aren’t happy with their leader and don’t hold back when telling why. Some are more politically savvy and only think what others say out loud.
Forbes reported recently that as many as two million employees quit their jobs each month. One of the most significant reasons: they dislike their bosses.
It’s only fair to acknowledge that some managers earn their scorn. I should know, one of my jobs as an organizational development consultant is to help make bosses better bosses. I suppose if everyone was already excellent, I’d have less to do. But it’s only fair to give credit where it’s due. So let’s take a closer look at the great things bosses do.
If you’ve been responsible for delivering business results for any length of time, you’ve probably hit a wall once or twice with people. Someone’s feelings got hurt, another manager is difficult to work with, company politics create unseen landmines, some colleagues disagrees with you and a couple may be out to get you. As often as not, we may be the problem. Additionally, we humans are the ones causing the accidents, forgetting key dates or deliverables, creating ambiguity, making mistakes and communicating poorly. Getting results are tough enough as it is, before we introduce people into the mix!
Automation has added enormous business efficiency over the years and will continue. But it’s important to keep in mind that whatever business we’re in, we’re ultimately in the people business. Since we can’t eliminate the human element (besides, would we really want to?), we’ll have to figure out how to capitalize on it.
I was asked to sit in on a large group interview several years ago that a group of managers was conducting. There were a handful of openings and they wanted to efficiently select several candidates to move to the next level. I was supposed to provide input after the fact. In hindsight, I think I did more harm than good.
Who gets to be a leader? From time to time, I hear an someone admonish a group of individuals by saying “you are all leaders.” Other times, I see organizational messaging indicating “leadership” is reserved for a small group of individuals who occupy certain positions. Which is it? Are we all leaders, or only some of us?
And how do we get more leaders in our organizations?
In order to figure that out, we’ve got to start by defining what leadership is begin with.
One of the things that disappoints me the most is hearing someone tell me they don’t want to be a leader. It’s unfortunate because I believe that everyone not only has the ability to be leader but also the responsibility to make a leadership contribution in the role they are in. But in this context, they usually associate leadership with a management-type position. And what they usually mean is that the perks of leadership (pay, perception, privileges) are not worth the stress (bureaucracy, pressure, time, work, people issues).
And unfortunately, in some cases, I agree with them. I’ve seen plenty of leaders abused to the point where others take note and stay put. Usually it’s the result of some type of organizational dysfunction which may be easy to see buy difficult to change. Other times the job really is that difficult.
So as you move up in an organization, does leadership get easier or harder? I have good news and bad news. The answer is “yes.” Here’s why.
I’ll admit I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years when it comes to identifying leadership ability in others. Some I’ve thought would be great weren’t – and others I didn’t give much consideration turned out to be amazing. It’d be a lot easier if there was a scientific method to show who could get the job done. Until then, we’ll have to do the best we can.
One of the first mistakes we often make is assuming that the person in charge is always the leader. Then, when it turns out they aren’t, we give up. But what if leadership doesn’t have anything to do with having a title? In that case, it would be possible to have an organization filled with leaders at every level.
I had the chance to travel to Greece and Bulgaria recently and give a series of leadership presentations to several university groups with a small team of business professionals. The sights, food and people were reward enough, but getting to share our leadership presentations with the future leaders of two countries added a special sense of purpose to the trip. Even better, our message had been carefully constructed to include leadership principles that have proved timeless across all disciplines. Let me tell you more about it.
Mark Miller developed the SERVE model and curriculum and collaborated with Ken Blanchard to publish it in their book The Secret. Each member of our small team presented a portion of the model. I’ll summarize it for you here below.
Feedback is everywhere. We get feedback from our bosses in our performance reviews. We ask our customers for their feedback on our service. We collect engagement feedback from our employees. We send a work project around the team for peer feedback before submitting our deliverables.
In all of these cases, the difference between good feedback and poor feedback can easily be the difference between success and failure. The implications can affect our organization’s market share, our revenues, our project quality or our ability to be promoted.
Great feedback is crucial. But it’s not always easy to come by. So how do we get the feedback we need – either individually or corporately? Let’s take a closer look at seven feedback tips.
Most organizations have core values. Somewhere anyway. They’re usually posted on the website and probably printed on a brochure somewhere. But do people talk about them individually? Does anyone know them? Are they specific and meaningful enough to make a difference?
At the end of the day, the organization is going to do what it’s going to do, right? So maybe a better question is: why do we even have core values?
We’ve probably all come across sets of core values that were easy to make fun of or were too vague to impact anyone. But well constructed, specific core values can add tremendous benefit both to organizations and individuals. In fact, here are three ways I’ve seen this happen.
Where do you send your employees to learn something new? Where do you go yourself?
There a lots of options out there. The best strategy is to take a integrated approach to learning across five broad categories. Here they are.
Have you ever taken a personality assessment? What were your results? Were you an INFP? A “high D and low I?” A fire with a bit of earth mixed in? An eagle or an otter?
If you spend much time on social networks, you’ve probably even seen personality quizzes that blend with pop culture. Which Lord of the Rings character are you? Or Disney character. Or past U.S. president. Personality assessments are definitely trending right now.
Now before you get the idea I’m about to start hating on personality assessments altogether, I should mention first off that I’ve taken several myself and helped administer them in professional settings as well. Some of the assessments I’ve worked with are Myers-Briggs (probably the most popular), DiSC (my favorite), and FIRO Business and I’m familiar with several others. I’ve also worked with strengths assessments and 360 degree assessments.
Clearly, there are many benefits to personality assessments, so let’s start there.