I have been helping companies develop their strategies for growth and profitability for over twenty years. As with many consultants, I started helping companies plan in a very traditional manner by developing 3-inch thick plans that would make any coffee table or bookshelf proud. I am being a bit sarcastic, and I know sarcasm is not a true form of humor, but bear with me for a moment as I make my case. It is not that the work we did together did not produce valuable plans with real substance. Actually, part of the problem was that there was too much substance in most cases, so the plans became overwhelming and extremely difficult to execute. I would come back quarterly, or in some cases annually, and as we began to the review the plans, I would hear comments like, “Oh yes, now I remember talking about that in planning.” Laughs would emerge around the room, but the truth of it is that it was not really that funny, considering the lost opportunity and lack of results.
Many people wonder and worry about whether or not they are doing a good job and if their boss is happy with their work. It is one of the consistent emotional challenges employees face in the workplace, and sadly, most people don't know what to do about it.
One way this challenge has been dealt with is by having the dreaded annual or quarterly performance review. That's the day when you go and find the document (if you had one) from your last review and hope that you were able to improve your work performance from last time you had a formal discussion with your boss. This is usually a lose-lose scenario. You dread these meetings because they feel so formal and awkward. Your boss dreads these meetings because they have to try to figure out something smart, insightful and helpful to say to you to make them look and feel like they are being a good boss. Once it's over, all breathe a sigh of relief and are glad they don't have to do that again for another 3 months—or even a year.
"Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts." -Arnold Bennett
Whether you or an external force initiated the changes that are about to take place, preparation is essential for you and your organization. Change management tools can be the catalyst for immense success or supreme failure.
Early on in the process, develop a think rhythm about the future adjustments, the impacts of change management, and an employee focus. Change management is much harder than project management or business processes, as you are dealing with human beings that have feelings that they bring to the workplace. This list of the best change management books will get you ready for the better and brighter future.
We read a lot these days about strategic leadership and tactical leadership (as we should). Leaders find themselves up against a multitude of scenarios and situations, all of which they’re supposed to magically handle in the right way with the right methods for each situation. When you study leadership, you quickly discover the massive complexity that surrounds it. So let’s take just one slice of strategic vs tactical leadership and dissect it for the purpose of your own reflective thinking about what kind of leader you tend to be (and the pros/cons that surround these tendencies).
The slice of leadership we’ll look at is the tactical leader vs. the strategic leader. Both are needed, but when you’re trying to lead a team (or teams) of people toward a common endpoint and/or if you’re trying to grow a company, understanding the differences between these two management styles is imperative. Without a sense of understanding around your own leadership tendencies, you can’t move the needle on much of anything let alone work towards achieving a strategic plan or objective.
Because Rhythm strategy execution software acts as a framework for pulling together into one single system many improvement initiatives and management tools that are popular among manufacturing companies, many of our most successful clients come from the manufacturing industry. One area that our clients come to us for help with is determining the right manufacturing KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for their manufacturing metrics dashboard to drive performance. Some production managers are not sure where to start, and many are measuring so many things that their manufacturing metrics are just noise, not driving action or change to drive your operating efficiency and product planning KPIs and KRA (key results areas.)
Manufacturing KPI Examples
This past Fall, my family and I took a week’s vacation in Kennebunkport, Maine. We have been there several times in the past, but this was the first year we decided to take a sailing tour with Captain Rich on the Schooner Eleanor. It was a gorgeous, sunny and early September day as we sailed through the channel and out into the Atlantic for a couple of hours up and down the rocky coastline. As the captain steered back towards port, it became obvious that he was waiting for something rather than making a direct turn back into the narrow waterway between the rocky outcroppings where the ocean and river met. When asked about the pause, he quickly responded that while the way may look calm and easy, there were incredibly strong waters just under the surface that could make the way back to port treacherous for the inexperienced. Many of us on the boat were distracted by dinner plans, being a few extra minutes late for happy hour and getting back to the hotel. While we possessed a desire to accomplish what we were certain was important, and we were sure that we knew the destination, we were missing one key ingredient. After twenty plus years of sailing, Captain Rich had a keenly developed a sense of what was necessary to make it back safely to shore that evening—discipline.
It is important to grow the top line of your business on an annual basis, but you also need to make sure the bottom line is healthy which can help fund that growth. This is particularly important if you are a manufacturing company and need to be efficient in your production process. In most cases, the two biggest expenses in your manufacturing business are labor and raw materials. There are exceptions, of course, in machine intensive automated manufacturing plants, but let’s focus on the former. So how can we make sure the production line is running at peak performance? One very effective way is to put the right balance of production KPIs in place. Some of these are leading indicator KPIs that help provide insight into future performance and some are results KPIs that tell you how you have done. It is good to have both, although I always prefer giving my production managers a good set of leading indicator KPIs as these manufacturing metrics drive the results.
Here are some of the most effective manufacturing KPIs and metrics:
Successful SMART goal (priority) setting is an essential skill for both personal and professional success. If you aren’t setting goals, you’re likely not making progress. However, research by the University of Scranton found that 92% of people who set New Year's resolutions never achieve them.
Business goals don't fare much better; 67% of great strategies fail due to poor execution. Writing an effective goal will increase your chances of successfully achieving that goal, or quarterly rock. Fortunately, goal-setting is a skill that you can learn and improve. Setting goals and priorities is essential to running a great company so it is worth the time and effort to improve this skill.
Here are 6 Easy Steps to Writing Effective Goals and Priorities:
According to a recent article I read in Harvard Business Review, "most employees want to be productive, but the organization too often gets in their way. Our research indicates that the average company loses more than 20% of its productive capacity — more than a day each week — to what we call 'organizational drag,' the structures and processes that consume valuable time and prevent people from getting things done." What productivity KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and metrics can we measure employee performance, employee satisfaction and employee engagement?
The article continued to say that "people have huge amounts of discretionary energy that they could devote to their work, but many are not sufficiently inspired to do so. Virtually every employee can bring more to their job, but many don’t invest the additional ingenuity and creativity that they could to improve productivity. Inspired employees bring more discretionary energy to their work every day. As a result, they are 125% more productive than an employee who is merely satisfied. Stated differently, one inspired employee can produce as much as 2.25 satisfied employees."
Wow! I was stunned by this data!
As the COVID-19 news unfolds and more people are staying in (check out www.cdc.gov/covid-19 for the latest accurate information), some of us could be spending more time at home than we had planned this spring. While I am lucky enough to have the kind of job that I can do from home, I’ve never figured out how to do it well. On the odd snow day or sick day that I’ve attempted over the years, I’ve always felt that working from home is far less productive and more tiring than being in the office where it’s easier to focus.