A business is essentially a system of business operations. When there is no organization and structure in the management of its processes, the company struggles to focus on new projects and growth, and spends most of its time keeping up with its day-to-day activities.
Successful businesses are organized businesses; they have their business operations in order and sync with each other. If your employees are not informed and there is no plan, then an air of confusion surrounding the workforce will lower productivity and hinder creativity.
It is not difficult to be an operations specialist, yet the impact is immense. There are some key fundamentals to building a strong operational foundation that can help make or break a company’s growth. There are a few operational issues that are the most common. Focusing is the top issue to focus on that can make a big difference to both your employees and your profitability.
Clear roles & responsibilities of business operations
Often in growing companies everyone wears many hats and jumps in to pick up the slack where needed. Too much is going on every day and they consider it too cumbersome to put something like this into writing. Unfortunately, this is one of the cases where if it’s not written down, it does not exist. Any time spent gathering and documenting this information will be quickly gained backed and then some. This can serve as the launching pad for a number of uses:
Employee Accountability – It is difficult to hold someone accountable when it is not crystal clear what they are accountable for.
Loss of an Employee – Pull out their list of responsibilities and quickly divide them up between the staff. This can be done in less than 10 minutes and everyone is now clear that they are responsible for those tasks.
Training – You now have a list to go through and discuss potential training gaps.
Succession Planning – You now have a list of responsibilities for the next role an employee wants to take on. Go through the list to discuss the skills needed and training gaps to be addressed before they can move into the role.
Processes and Procedures – Each person is responsible for creating their own process and procedures for the items on their responsibilities list. Provide a simple template to get them started. Start with one per month and move it up to one per week for those who catch on quickly.
Cross Training – Having a list to start from makes it much easier to identify opportunities for cross training. Also a great time to cross check the process the responsibility owner wrote. Use that document to cross train.
Getting The Right Employees in the Right Seats – Assess your employees (formally or informally) for what they do best, what they are good at and what they enjoy doing. What hidden talents are there that you never knew about. Compare list to the roles & responsibilities. Who in your organization is mismatched with skills to role? I have seen 180 degree turns in employees and the overall team effectiveness by making shifts as a result of this exercise.
The list goes on when it comes to the benefits this single operational focus can bring. Every post mortem I have ever been involved in was traced back to the project getting off track at the very beginning in one single area – there was no clarity on who was doing what and what was expected of them. As a result, the moment something didn’t go as planned, the employees were left playing hot potato and musical chairs.
A few more things to consider as you work on putting some operational fundamentals in place. Anything you do should be put to the test with the below:
5 Key Fundamentals of Business Operations
Be Clear – Can this be communicated on its own from the highest to the lowest level of your organization? Will it makes sense to everyone?
Communication – Remember the telephone game you played as a kid. Bring in a handful of your employees and put them around a table. Whisper to the first one “The brown cat bought a faucet, the black dog slipped on a tennis ball.” See what happens once it makes its way around the table. It can only be passed on once (no repeating). This is what happens when everyone is in the same room. What happens in day to day business operations.
Documentation – If it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist.
Flexibility – Leave room in the structure for a degree of flexibility. If it can’t accommodate a variety of situations and still work as it should, go back to the drawing board.
Scalable – It should work for both the current size and the next couple of growth levels of your company. It must be able to growth with you.