In the UK where only 1 in 5 of those in management positions have professional qualifications or effective training, the development of bad operational habits is highly likely – and as such, so is the propensity for those bad habits to spread to their teams, and throughout entire operational functions completely.
We’re not saying that professional qualification is obligatory. Not at all. In fact, some of the greatest leaders have become who they are, simply by applying their experience, and growing from that. But what we are saying that inevitably, in your organisation, unless you’re keeping a constant eye on rooting out bad habits, eliminating poor performance, effectively managing risk, your Operations team, and in fact, your entire business, is at serious risk. And eliminating things that hinder growth is what we’re all about.
In this blog, we share 5 critical Operational flaws that businesses who are ready for growth, need to become acutely aware of, and root out, today.
In 2016, Torben Rick wrote about Organisational Complacency being ‘the silent business killer’. And nothing’s changed. It strikes without warning and can bring even the largest of companies to their knees. “Complacency is an intrinsic flaw that prevents organisations from pushing beyond the status quo to achieve exceptional successes,” he writes, and draws up a brilliant visualisation of The Iceberg that sinks organisational change.
Lois Mosca talks about the birth of complacency as being down to a simple question: “Are you comfortable with the current state of productivity, sales and cash flow in your business?” If you answered yes to that question, the chances are that you are at risk of heading away from the organisational comfort shores into the rocky waters of complacency – and break down.
You may argue that your team is equipped to take ownership for themselves. They know how to function and they know what the organisational targets are. It may start as small as arriving late for work, or taking a 3-day weekend. It may be that your teams are becoming disengaged. They’ve stopped taking initiative and have stopped contributing new ideas into doing things better. They’ve started to take shortcuts just to get the job done, but at the same time, are averse to taking calculated risks. They’ve become beige. They’re just doing what is expected to be done – and that, until now, hasn’t really bothered you.
Remember, the more complacent you get, the stronger your competition gets.
2. Change for the sake of change
We’re always being driven on a path of continuous improvement – making things work better, faster. Delivering more, quicker to our customers. But what happens when we change, just for the change’s sake?
And all too often, one sees a lot of this happening whenever a new executive comes into the business. In an effort to demonstrate immediate value, the need is all-too-often to change what’s already there – without taking time to watch, digest, interpret.
Change is inevitable – and most of the time, necessary.
Effective leaders change things when they are not achieving their goals and objectives on the current path or when they see a way to get there more quickly, effectively, and efficiently.
But when that vision is not as clear, and, for the sake of appearing to be effective or busy, changes are made simply because it’s something to try – without the necessary forethought, that’s when change moves from opportunity to risk.
Effective leaders will take the time to see what’s working and what’s not, assess changes in the competitive landscape, assess changes in market conditions, and review other factors that would indicate that a change is necessary. And then, when armed with all the necessary information they need to confidently move forward, they make a change.
3. Silo mentalities
Getting rid of destructive silos has been the subject of many an academic study for many many years. The bane of organisational existence, silo mentalities and independence from a more networked, cohesive company where all functions are working to serve each other, and targeted on the same vision, focus and growth strategy are a direct cause of miscommunication, misalignment and an inevitable breakdown in strategy altogether.
Refusing to share information with other functions (or individuals) in the business – or to even contribute or collaborate on initiatives – means that your business demonstrates levels of poor morale, mistrust, low productivity and even open conflict.
But apart from creating a collaborative corporate culture where morale and productivity levels are high, breaking down silo’d attitudes means that you stand yourself in far better stead of serving your customers better. Where one function may be experiencing customer delivery challenges, another function may have the solution.
Creating common visions and goals, opportunities to share and collaborate on projects, rewarding cross-departmental thinking, are just some of the things that you can start doing today to germinate a culture of lattice co-working.
But before you simply leave it to your teams to sort out. There’s one thing you need to realise.
It trickles down from the top.
In his article for Forbes, Brent Gleeson writes that, “the silo mindset does not appear accidentally nor is it a coincidence that most organisations struggle with interdepartmental turf wars. When we take a deeper a look at the root cause of these issues, we find that more often than not silos are the result of a conflicted leadership team.”
And if that applies to you – then there’s work to be done.
4. A lack of a Value-Add mindset
The old adage goes that when you start to pay attention to something, the more of them appear. Often called an opportunity mindset, thinking about how to keep adding value is critical to not only continuously delighting your customers, but building something that delivers long-term results, as opposed to the Big Bang Ending (to a project, a product or service).
If your teams are focussed only on box-shifting, for the sake of ticking numbers of a list (often driven and motivated through company targets and deadlines), then you will never have them deliver anything more than just that. And when times get tough, and you need to rely on your team to go further, push harder, deliver faster – a poor habit that you’ve overlooked and cultured into organisational norm, becomes your Achilles heel. Then it’s not their problem. It’s yours.
What makes for a great innovator? Someone who is naturally curious. Someone who is able to spot an opportunity hiding in plane sight where many others overlook because they’re too focussed on a very particular-looking target.
Time to adjust your vision.
5. Seeing your HQ as more relevant than Regional hubs
Often referred to as a love-hate relationship, the relationship of the HQ and its subsidiaries is no stranger to conflict and mismanagement. There’s either too much involvement, or too little. Too much support, or too little. Too much independence or too little – all depending on which side of the divide you’re sitting on.
The reality is this: The reasons most organisations establish subsidiary arms to the group is to grow. Their direct aim is to serve the economic aims of the business headquarters. And given all of this, HQ-subsidiary interdependence and a continuous relationship seem to be unavoidable. Which is why it’s critical that you make it work – if you hope to see that subsidiary performing well in it’s market, and ultimately you, as an organisation, uncovering new opportunity there, or elsewhere, and growing.
The relationship is, or at least should be, symbiotic. Regardless of the arrangement, both parties need to understand the nature of the relationship – which includes levels of independence, levels of support required, levels of involvement – and where parties disagree, this should be worked at until a common ground is found that empowers both to develop trust in one another.
Perception accounts for most of the way we interpret communication messages. Look at the way we are sold to in the media. It’s our perception of a product, a feeling, a solution that ultimately convinces us to buy or subscribe to a solution. Ensuring your HQ as well as your Subsidiary understands critical business cultures and plans, and agrees to work collaboratively on developing these, you’re on a winning streak.
If it’s time for you to review your Operational strength, and ascertain whether it’s poised to support the growth strategy you have in mind for the organisation, but you need a business partner that is a true enabler of growth, then you want to speak to us.