Many business owners and managers have strong ideas about what they need to improve in their business, but they don’t have the guts or inclination to do anything about it.
When a company is sitting on its hands, a way through is for leaders to write down a list of the problems in their business or team.
It’s easy to focus on the good stuff and ignore the trouble spots, but inactivity can slowly strangle the life out of a business.
I see these four areas as repeating issues in businesses – are you guilty of any of them?
Number 1: Standards have become lip service.
If you have standards, you need to enforce them.
An example I know of concerned the manager of a 400-plus person call centre. He was an amazing leader and the team was really engaged. That said, some of the employees weren’t following protocol around the usage of mobile phones.
The policy was that you could not use your mobile phone unless it was in the lunch room or out of the office, no exceptions.
Every day the manager walked through the massive room and would see people hiding their mobile phone down the side of their leg, thinking nobody could see.
The manager said that whilst he didn’t enjoy it, he would confront any person who was trying to hide their phone and because he did, the majority of staff members quickly realised he was very serious in enforcing the policy and upholding the standard around mobile phone usage.
When you fail to enforce even such trivial things, the overall standards of a company will be pulled down. This means customers will pretty quickly start to notice things too.
Number 2: Addressing poor performance
It’s a proven fact that the best workplaces are the best at managing poor performance.
This might sound like a juxtaposition. But the reason they manage poor performance so proactively is because they realise that if the behaviour isn’t “corrected”, then others in the team will start to think, “Why should I do something when my team mate is not doing it?”.
A bad egg (who usually isn’t a cultural fit as well) can bring down a team. Who in your team is not performing or behaving as they should and what are you doing about it? Act soon to stop the rot.
Number 3: Tricky customers
Not every customer you have is a profitable one when you consider all things. It might be they take too much time to look after compared to the gross profit you make from them.
They might have unfair expectations of how you look after them. I had a client who shuddered whenever a particular customer rang up. Eventually, they had the guts to push up their prices and, as expected, this painful customer walked.
And they never looked back because there was more time to put into their profitable customers and into winning others at that higher rate.
Whilst it is very true that you are better off keeping a current customer compared to winning new ones, occasionally an existing one needs to be fired too. Do you have any D-grade customers?
Number 4: Take time to think
Most of us are super busy and struggle to get everything done. That said, there is no excuse for not being able to find half a day at least once a month to just think.
That’s less than one hour of time a week to think about how you are going to win in business and in your management position.
Beyond actually doing the right things, identifying the right things for you to focus on and implement is a key secret to success.
And if you can get more than half a day a month on this, then top of the class for you.There is nothing better than spending your thinking time away from your business in a place that inspires you and lets you be creative to make it more successful for you.
Go and make your list of trouble spots today and then do something about them! Don’t be one of those companies or people who sit on their hands, doing nothing or not enough. Start addressing these hard decisions today for the sake of tomorrow’s success.
Zac de Silva is an award-winning business coach who owns www.businesschanging.com. Visit Zac’s www.accme.co to sign up for regular challenging business-thinking questions to build a prioritised business plan. De Silva is also co-founder of www.nurturechange.com, the Fiji business retreat in November 2016.
This article was first published in the Sunday Star Times, April 10, 2016, and on www.stuff.co.nz