Anne Bachrach, The Accountable Coach
Running a business is a lot like a Nascar race. There are large amounts of sustained momentum coupled with dedicated adjustment or growth times. In a race, the efficiency of the pit crew can often make or break a driver’s race position, and those team members have their processes down to split seconds of perfectly timed precision. Likewise, businesses often have areas within their own workflow that need to be executed with efficient action, otherwise they run the risk of causing slowdowns and missing big opportunities.
“Well-oiled or finely tuned, a business must work and keep working for both owners and consumers alike. Unfortunately, inefficiency is a reality. It comes in a variety of flavors that can cost businesses up to 30 percent of their revenue each year. Inefficiency can pop up in many places. You might find redundant processes, important but hard-to-find information, or out-of-date procedures.” Source: Entrepreneur.com
So, how do you identify areas in your business that need to be revitalized to increase your efficiency and overall productivity? Try these three ideas I’m about to share with you.
1. Take Risks and Try New Things
If you suspect that something is not working as efficiently as it could, you may need to try something new to see if it will work better. No one solution works for everyone, and sometimes the best way to ascertain if a new process, system, or action will help you or your team perform better is to give it a try for a few weeks or months. For example, if you feel like email is a consistent stumbling block that ties up too much of your time each week, consider using your assistant or a virtual assistant (VA) whose sole task is to manage client communications, thus freeing you up to tackle higher-level tasks that you and only you can handle.
Are meetings bogging down your team’s productivity? You may want to try moving communications over to Slack or Asana, so everyone can stay on the same page for the things relevant to their workflow, and they can stay out of things that do not require their time or attention. It may take some time before the new processes you put in place begin to gain momentum and produce your desired efficiency outcomes, but if you never take the leap and try something new, you will never know what you may be missing out on. That new process or action could streamline your workflow and free up precious minutes or hours that can then be spent on what really matters to your company’s vision and goals.
2. Give Your Team Opportunity to Weigh In
Like a high-performance vehicle, every company could use regular tune-ups to make sure that every part and piece is performing optimally. The best way to check the proverbial temperature of how your workplace is functioning is to ask those that are a part of your organization on a daily basis. By involving your employees, you give them a sense of ownership over their place of work, and allow them to share their innovative, fresh perspectives on how to make things run even more efficiently.
There is no way for one person to accurately see the big picture of how a business is doing without key metrics or a dashboard of key indicators. There are so many unique facets, and the more you involve other sets of eyes to look at problems or areas of productivity lapses, the sooner you will be able to target those things and improve them. As an added bonus, your employees will be provided with opportunities to be heard, which can increase morale and reduce the risk of them becoming burnt out and frustrated. Always be open to new ideas that can impact growth, efficiencies, and your overall business success.
3. Invite Outside Perspectives
It can be difficult to see our own areas of weaknesses because we know our intentions and can often view our work and our life through the lens of how we want it to be, not how it really is. Good intentions can be a stumbling block to forward motion, and the key to breaking down those barriers we are blind to, is often bringing in an outside perspective to weigh in on things for us.
You could hire a productivity expert to come in and observe your company’s workflow and then help you implement new practices or behaviors that will save you time and money. You could visit another company run by a networking contact and see how they do things. You could seek out advice from your partner or spouse; they have an intimate understanding of the frustrations you vent each day (and may not even realize) and may be able to offer a fresh outlook on the things that are hindering your company’s success. You could ask a mentor for their opinion.
The desired outcome of this step is simply to remove the rose-colored glasses through which you can’t help but view your company with and then be able to take practical steps to adjust your trajectory.
Gaining knowledge is the first step; implementing action steps based on that knowledge is the next necessary piece of the puzzle. Start boosting your efficiency this week by asking your team for their perspective on how you can improve one system or process to increase productivity. Once you have their feedback, find a way to immediately seek out a solution and implement it. Let them be part of changing the process to be even better.