I spend a lot of time assessing businesses and what they do. I see the benefit of their products and services. I see systems and processes they use to make their products and services. And I see the people engaged to manage and operate these businesses to deliver those products and services. Success (or mediocrity) of these businesses comes down to the productivity of their workforce, whether it is the executive, management, or the workers on the floor. A business can have the best equipment, the best process, the best customers and market; however without the right people to deliver, it is all for nothing.
A business can determine Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Productivity; the number of widgets per hour, the hours billed, or meeting the target set by the customer. None of these KPIs matter if the workforce is not committed to delivering and meeting these expectations. We think we can performance manage people out of the business; however, this is getting harder to do.
We need to make the correct people decision at the selection or recruitment phase. We don’t choose the first person that comes along or the one with the best Resume. We talk with them, ask challenging questions, phone referees, test them and try them for a period before we commit to them. We look at their work ethic, and their competency to perform the tasks the position entails. We don’t hire or promote someone because they have great potential; we all have potential, but it doesn’t mean that we can do the work and produce results.
With the right team of people, with the right individuals, businesses can go from insignificance to greatness. The Leaders have the Plan and the Purpose, the Managers know how to deliver the Plan, and the workers can complete the plan, on time, on budget, and hopefully with some innovation along the way. Dedicated and committed people at all levels of a business can make it work. Unfortunately, it is not often that I see a good cohesive workforce or team functioning together producing success.
Where do I see the issues? Here is the Top 3 in no particular order, as they will mean different things in each business.
- Promoting the wrong person – the one with the longest tenure, the one we or others like, the one with potential, the one we will lose if we don’t promote, etc. All of these are excuses for not taking the time to fill the role with the right person.
- Poorly defined roles and responsibilities – personnel need to clearly understand what is expected of them so they can perform to their best.
- Inconsistent performance evaluations – people need to understand how they are performing, especially if they are not meeting expectations. Regular informal conversations mean more than an annual appraisal.
Businesses need to invest time and effort into selecting and keeping their people.
Their success depends on it.