You can think of this as a blueprint for complete business derailment. Or, if inefficiency is not your goal, you can flip it upside down and think of it as a roadmap for achieving optimal efficiency and streamlining management processes.
Either way, these seven common management mistakes can teach us a lot about how and how not to optimize internal operations in any organization. As they say, it’s always important to learn from one’s mistakes. But, let’s face it, it’s even better (and a whole lot less painful) to learn from someone else’s errors. Here are our choices of 7 mistakes that can make you sink faster than Donald Trump’s campaign figures after a bus ride.
- Mismatching your product offering with your customer needs.
- Hiring the right person for the wrong job.
- Not keeping your best employees.
- Not rewarding excellence.
- Staying behind on technology adoption.
- Focusing too heavily on sales and not enough on cutting operational costs.
- Lack of focus – And then communicating that focus to your employees.
- Not matching your product to your audience, and vice versa. You’d think that one would be a no-brainer, but the reality is that the mismatch happens more than anyone would guess – and it can even happen in your business, without a full measure of ongoing analysis and planning. The trick is to really drill down to fully understand both the value of your product(s) and the needs of your audience, and to make sure they align (which can be a moving target!). Don’t be afraid to ask your peeps what it is they really want and need and then see if your product can and does match it.
- Hiring the right person for the wrong job. Agree or disagree, personnel decisions are some of the toughest decisions any business leader can make. It’s no cakewalk to size up a new recruit and match them perfectly to the position in your company. Even the most talented person won’t improve efficiency or productivity if their skills aren’t the ones needed for the job.
- Losing your best employees is one tried-and-true way to muck up the works. And it couldn’t be more common, in large part because the employees who can be relied on to excel at their jobs with minimal “handling” are also the people it’s easiest to take for granted. The problem employees are a lot more time-consuming for managers and they’re the folks who tend to get all the attention, at the expense of the ones we should be catering to. In fact, an entire paradigm has developed around keeping employees engaged with their business and creating a common “company culture” because, survey says, engaged employees are happy employees – are productive employees – are the kind that hang around – and improves business productivity while also saving your business money.
- Which brings us to not rewarding your star employees, a related pathway to lost productivity and declining morale. If undermining your business really is your goal, this is one of the best ways to go. After all, everybody wants to be rewarded and recognized for a job well done, and rewards and recognition have positive ripple effects throughout a business. Remember when we said employee engagement can improve productivity and reduce operational costs, well, this is how you do it. Besides boosting the productivity and job satisfaction of the star employees, showing in a tangible way that they are appreciated also sets the bar for the entire staff and lets everyone know that good work pays off.
- Letting technology pass you by is a surefire way to fall behind the competition. Today’s tech solutions can help you achieve remarkable efficiencies in every facet of business, from internal and external communications to workflow to integrating processes across the organization. Failing to take full advantage of technology, and to adapt quickly to emerging technologies when they come onto the horizon, can have a crippling effect on businesses in the hyper-competitive marketplace.
- Focusing too much on sales growth and too little on cutting operational costs can be a great way to keep reality from interfering with optimistic projections. But it may not be the best way to improve the bottom line. Before you shoot for the moon, it’s sometimes a good idea to make sure that everything is in order on at Mission Control. Likewise, a hard look at the costs of doing business and the possible savings to be found in increased efficiencies may have at least as much to do with the success of your mission as sales growth will, at least for the short term. And the bonus is, optimizing operations now will continue to pay off as sales do continue to grow.
- Running around in circles is one common business strategy that efficiency-minded operations generally try to avoid. In its purest form, it’s what happens when that strategic plan someone worked so hard to develop gets buried beneath a stack of papers in the bottom drawer somewhere and never really becomes the living, breathing document every company needs. Instead of spending their workdays actually implementing the strategies the company has identified as central to its operations, employees may not even know what’s expected of them or even that such an expectation exists. If communication is lax and there are no explicit standards and processes in place, then don’t be surprised when your business is not progressing on a straight line toward a shared goal.
How to succeed in business by really trying
Maybe when the popular musical comedy “how to succeed in business without really trying” debuted on Broadway more than 50 years ago it actually was possible to do just that. But that’s a stretch today, now that everyone’s competition has gone global and every competitor is armed with a fancy M.B.A. and an arsenal of mind-boggling tech tools. These days, mistakes and missteps can be fatal, and there’s often very little time for a company to regain its footing before competitors just pass it by.
Given all that, it’s never too soon for any company to bear down and take the steps that can lead it to increased operational efficiency–if that’s in fact its goal after all.
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