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Daily Leadership Thought #159 – Business Management Improvement Ideas

June 23, 2011

Free Group of Men and Women Working as a Team Stock Photo

I often get asked for a checklist of business management improvement ideas.  While the following list isn’t exhaustive, it is a good start for anyone who would like to audit their existing business situation:

  • Develop a strategic plan every 5 years and support it with annual operating plans; Plan your work, work your plan
  • Whenever possible, base important decisions on data or specific information, not just opinions or personal experience – facts matter
  • Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that everyone in the organization can understand and then be actively transparent with the results
  • Identify and regularly communicate your cultural values/expectations
  • Institute financial forecasting as standard operating procedure; be proactive not reactive when it comes to profitability, cash flow and asset/debt management
  • Foster a culture that breeds contingency planning (“What If” scenarios) and manage your resource decisions accordingly
  • Use your operating budget as a “real time” management tool and flex your variable expense/investment decisions up or down to reflect the current reality
  • Strive to understand the true cost of your products/services on a per unit basis; not every product/service is a winner and resources should be allocated carefully
  • Identify and manage to clear and specific performance standards for each department/program and drill this information down to the individual employee level
  • Capture internal best practices wherever possible and use this information to leverage existing talents and capabilities; actively avoid the “recreating the wheel” syndrome
  • Hire for cultural fit as much as competence; fire anyone who degrades the culture
  • Ensure every employee has a clear and concise job description that accurately reflects the requirements of the role and includes specific success metrics
  • Create staffing plans and hours of operation based on true volume patterns (daily, weekly, and seasonally) not accepted norms; maximize staff and capacity utilization
  • Cross train staff as widely as possible; expand employee competencies and ensure work redundancies
  • Share staff across programs or departments based on actual resource needs rather than departmental budgeting or turf issues
  • Make quality control an integral part of the product/service delivery process; Quality should be perceived as everyone’s job
  • Centralize purchasing of supplies across all departments/programs; empower a key purchasing point person to manage these expenses
  • Provide rewards (financial and non-financial) for individuals or teams who exceed performance targets or achieve “personal best” status
  • Collect customer feedback data on a regular basis and use the information to improve product/service delivery and evaluate staff
  • Collect employee feedback data on a semi-regular basis and use this information to guide managerial decision making and evaluate individual supervisor/manager performance
  • Reward risk-taking wherever possible, as long as it is prudent to do so; push everyone to exceed their own comfort zone of responsibility
  • Build a culture that learns from its mistakes rather than assigns blame – minimize excuses and finger-pointing
  • Celebrate successes!