Saturday, December 15, 2007

To Achieve Greater Business Success, Unlock Your Employees

This article was written by Hillel Pitlik, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

Traditionally, business organizations establish a hierarchical structure of supervision. Unfortunately, this method can cause the organization to act in a fragmented manner where ideas are suppressed and cooperation is thwarted.

In many cases, problems which arise in everyday activities are left unsolved because the responsibility chain is not clearly defined. I’m reminded of a visit to China when a faucet in our hotel bathroom was not functioning. We called the desk and they sent a plumber to fix it. We asked him, “Why the cleaning personnel had not found the problem and reported it?” He replied, “That isn’t their job.” Unfortunately, this happens in our organizations much too often.

While your organization has specific goals – never underestimate how much your employees can contribute to greater success. It is the objective of good management to harness the power and ingenuity of the people.

The basic question to be addressed is. “How do you get all the employees pushing in the same direction while keeping their eyes out for problems?” Today’s mantra for such an organizational fabric is “Teaming”.

It’s important and vital to any business because it is your people who best understand the nature of the problems they face in their every day activities, and they are almost always the one’s best able to devise workable solutions. A methodology that encourages these ideas is the one that will best serve the total enterprise.

Teaming is based on the premise that the whole is stronger than the sum of its parts. Each individual has something to contribute and taken together success is more frequently assured. A simple example that comes to mind is a small manufacturing business that has lost a key manager. The documentation for the products of the company was largely in the head of this key manager. The workers in the shop had been there as long as the manager. There was a critical need to recapture the lost information. By empowering the working team that had the equivalent knowledge, the business was able to survive this information loss. In fact, the resulting documentation incorporated many improvements that the individual employees had introduced on their own. By engaging the team, the efficiency and productivity of the organization improved substantially, because the workers were not just automatons but part of the entire process.

In addition to solving problems, the team can establish goals for productivity that become a commitment and thus the team’s success is a group objective that has a higher probability of being achieved. The best team structure demands that the team supervisor is part of the team. The supervisor is there to make sure that the resources the team needs for success are provided in a timely manner as well as working in the team to assure success.

Think TEAM and your business will flourish beyond your expectations. Your employees will be happier and you will realize the business success that a good enterprise deserves.