performance

Ways to improve the performance of your organization in 2015

A manager of people needs to understand that all people are different. This is not ranking people. He needs to understand that the performance of anyone is governed largely by the system that he works in, the responsibility of management – W. Edwards Deming

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or all the effort involved in simply delivering your product or service, it’s easy to lose track of the ongoing improvement actions you need to implement now in order to produce big results later.
Here are a few ways you can work on improving business performance and productivity over the course of the year — all of which will translate into larger profits and less stress.
 

Improve your people

 
According to Google’s own statistics, as an employer, the best fitting person in a given position is up to 300 times more effective than a merely average one. Therefore you should consider it of paramount importance to make sure you have the best people for your organization.
 

Improve your people

Improve your people

How can you achieve this? First, it can help to retain a professional recruiter or HR person, provided to have control over who is finally put into the position. An HR professional will help you define what your needs are for the position — these may be different from what you initially thought — then ensure you reach the proper candidates and help you select which to hire.
 
For your existing people, it’s well worth investing in development and recognition. All high performance organizations realize that people development is crucial; one size does not fit all, and development often produces outsize results compared with the expenditure.
 
Lastly, ensure you and all the leaders in your organization understand the importance of recognition. Employees value the simple act of saying ‘thank you’ very highly. Recognition extends into caring for your people as well: realize that employees can easily tell whether the leadership genuinely cares for them – focus on being authentic.

Improve your systems

 
Systems improvement should never be a one time project. You should have processes in place for achieving continuous advancement. For example, management techniques such as Lean Six Sigma make it possible to dramatically reduce waste and increase reliability of standard processes. The result is a much faster process speed, reduced capital invested in operations, and much higher quality.


 
A simple way to improve your operations is by looking for ways to improve ROI (Return On Investment) in your business. Start by defining the potential returns you get on a given investment — and in areas where you do this already, look for more intelligent ways to have it done. Rather than making it your goal to just increase sales, be more specific and aim for raising sales in a certain month from a particular sales representative or distribution channel.
 
Then, calculate your current return on investment, and use that as a benchmark when you consider your options. How can you increase revenues (without raising costs enough to affect your profits) or reduce costs? Look at both overhead costs (non-production related expenses like phones, insurance, and rent) as well as production costs like labour and materials.
 
Not every investment you make must have a dollar figure in terms of expected return, but every investment should have an identifiable benefit, and you should be able to assess in an instinctive way whether it is worth your while.

Improve your marketing

 
Marketing represents one of the most powerful ways to increase revenue, but there’s no reason to simply sit and wait until inspiration strikes. Make marketing optimization an ongoing concern, and start small.
 

Improve your marketing

Improve your marketing

Since your resources are limited and there’s never any guarantee a marketing idea will work, conduct many tiny experiments that hedge your bets. Try a number of ideas at once, and keep the cost of each idea low.
 
Doing this means you are able to afford having some ideas fail, which means you can quickly try new ones and then let your customer base tell you if you are doing well. Good places to experiment are areas where there isn’t much competition, as well as areas where you already feel strong. (In the latter case, you will have the benefit of confidence to bring you over the hurdles.)
 
Try and focus your experiments on low-hanging fruit. No customer wants to be dependent on a single supplier, so ask yourself what the customers of your competitors want — or ask them. Also, look for ways to optimize an existing idea which works rather than coming up with something entirely new. It’s much easier to sell a “better mousetrap” than a mousetrap nobody has ever seen before.
 

Alex Pejak is an economist currently working on a few projects in Australia, including one for CBIS.
She is interested in topics related to project management and business
improvement.
You can follow her on Twitter @AlexPejak

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