So we are in a recession, perhaps even a double dip recession. It’s like being becalmed on a boat at sea. No wind, no current, no movement of any sort. What do you do? Well what you don’t do is look back, questioning over and over again how it could be that you are in this situation.
Evaluation of past successes and failures is one thing but a morbid revisiting of the past is quite another. It’s negative, it’s draining and worst of all it's pointless.
So what do you do to kick start your organisation and get some forward momentum. Here are 99 tips. I hope some are new to you and above all I hope that some work for you!
1. Revisit your vision. Is it still valid given changes in your market-place? Does it still excite you? Do people still believe in it? Perhaps it’s time for a new vision.
2. Are people energised by your vision? Do they see it, feel it, touch it or is it just a collection of words? Re-communicate your vision in a fresh and motivational way. Raise people’s spirits.
3. Is your vision overly ambitious given the current circumstances? Reduce the size, renew the focus, and concentrate on some short term wins to get the beliefs back!
4. Review your objectives and timescales. Are they SMART given your current situation? i.e.
||- focusing on ‘battles’ you must win,
||– tangible, concrete, outcomes which are milestones towards future success,
||– capable of being delivered,
||– externally focussed aimed at defeating the competition.
||– capable of being achieved in a given timeframe which should be stretching
5. Is everyone top to bottom of the organisation, clear on the objectives – corporate, functional, team and individual? Perhaps it’s time to start team briefing sessions.
6. Do individuals own and are they committed to their personal objectives? Are they really taking them seriously? Do they see that they matter and can really make a difference to the organisation?
7. Is it time to re-negotiate contracts with your key suppliers? Are you bearing all the pain? Can they share some of it? Turn to them for help, if only temporary.
8. Can any customer contracts be re-negotiated to take some pressure off you? You can but ask!
9. Can any internal employee, manager, trade union agreements be re-negotiated, again if only for the short term?
10. Revisit your strategy in the light of your vision and objectives. Is it still valid?
11. Consider all options – organic growth, mergers, selling off parts of the business, joint ventures, franchising, licensing etc.
12. Does your strategy focus on your competitors’ weaknesses? You need both a defence strategy and an attack strategy. Have you both?
13. Is it time to look at new markets e.g. beyond your home market to specific overseas markets?
14. Can you create new products/services on the back of your existing products/services to sell into new markets?
15. Can you adopt different propositions for different markets to fully leverage your core business?
16. Can you break these down into smaller, less expensive and more adaptable offerings?
17. Can you standardise your product lines more and cut down on over-engineering or over customisation?
18. Can you make your products more easily customisable and reproducible to meet different customer needs?
19. Can you break down your service offering into different levels of service offering and pricing e.g. bronze, silver, and gold?
20. Are your services ‘fit for purpose’ versus overly elaborate?
21. Revisit the key differentiators in your service – what really makes you different? Is it time to
re-think your differentiators?
Routes to Market
22. Do you have an e-commerce business from which customers can self-serve? Easy for them and profitable for you?
23. Are your key agents, distributors, and resellers up to the job? Perhaps it’s time to change or upgrade them!
24. What other routes to market are open to you? Perhaps it's worth exploring shared resources with other organisations to get to new customers faster and more efficiently!
Research and Development
25. Maybe it’s time to drop that new product idea you have been trying to get to work for ages!
26. Think more about innovation i.e. what you have already got that could be made better.
27. Do you have to do the A to Z of research and development? Give it to the very bright and able talent in India and other countries in the Far East or Eastern Europe. Save cost and speed up the process.
28. Perhaps now is the time to outsource and/or offshore your non-core business. Go for it! There are people out there who are better at it than you!
29. Perhaps you need to drop your involvement in business ventures that are not your core business. Swallow your pride! Refocus on what you are really good at.
30. Better still, why not sell off non-core parts of the business!
31. Look for organisations which can add value to your own. Perhaps you can enter into a strategic alliance/partnership with these and share the costs and risks, but also the upside!
32. Change adversarial relationships with suppliers and customers into collaborative ones. Look for opportunities for each to add value to the other.
33. Revisit internal frictions between departments and teams. Turn conflict into collaborative working with win/win outcomes.
34. Spell out your requirements, afresh. Hold them accountable to deliver improvements.
35. Manage them tightly. Get on their case. Don’t be put off by excuses for poor performance!
36. Perhaps it’s time for these to go! Can you afford to keep them any longer?
37. This is a time to fully engage with all employees. Up your communication. Tell them the brutal facts. Reinforce their value and importance to you and your belief in them.
38. Get managers at all levels to spend more one-to-one time with employees getting to understand them better and to involve them more.
39. Conduct an employee survey. Find out what people really think about the organisation and what needs to be put right.
40. Maybe this is a time for shareholders to put in more money. Maybe they have had good returns in the past and perhaps now they should give more support.
41. Involve shareholders more in the business. They have a duty to be active participants if they want the rewards.
42. Increase your share capital. Bring in some fresh blood at investor level.
43. Do you still need all that space? That expensive address? Maybe now is the time to relocate and save overheads.
44. Do you need to configure the space you have? What about ‘hot desking’ and use of more shared resources?
45. What about working from home? Stop thinking that people only work when in your offices. Trust them to work from home.
Terms and Conditions
46. Review your commercial terms and conditions. Make it easier for people to do business with you.
47. Renew your staff terms and conditions. Are they too stringent? Are you putting off potential employees?
48. What are your competitors doing? Copy best practices.
49. Isn’t it about time you took staff training seriously? Carry out a proper training needs analysis and get started on training again. It need not be expensive.
50. What about the CEO and his/her board of directors -when were they last trained, particularly in the area of soft skills and emotional intelligence?
51. If your people are not growing your business is not growing! Think about the value you put on training and do something about up skilling everyone.
Creativity and Innovation
52. Maybe it’s time to make some step changes in the business. These come from engaging everyone in creative and innovative thinking.
53. Take some risks with new ideas. Reward openly entrepreneurial thinking.
54. Incremental process improvement needs to continue but breakthroughs come with creative thinking.
Culture and Values
55. Perhaps it’s time for these to change! Do something about it.
56. Reinforce the importance of the organisation’s culture and values. Reward those that ‘walk the talk’ and penalise those who don’t!
57. If the culture is wrong it’s probably because it starts at the top. Do you need to change your CEO?
58. Is there a reluctance to embrace change? Maybe it’s time for some young blood.
59. Get onto the front foot of leading and managing change. Create a future of your own choosing don’t become a victim of a future of someone else’s choosing!
60. Listen to your employees. They will tell you what needs to change and probable how!
61. Systems have a life time. Maybe your internal IT systems are beyond their ‘sell by’ date.
62. Is this a time to automate further? Bite the bullet and do it!
63. Does your Performance Management System really motivate people to give a high performance? Does it reward high performance? If it doesn’t, change it.
64. How satisfied are your employees in their job? What is their level of psychological contract? Survey them and find out.
65. How valued do your staff feel? Introduce half-yearly personal development planning sessions for everyone!
66. How long have employees to go on complaining about working conditions? Do something about complaints, now!
Coaching and Mentoring
67. Reinforce the importance of your managers’ coaching role. They should all be involved in coaching their people to improve their performance.
68. Introduce a ‘buddy’ coaching system to share the coaching load.
69. Introduce a mentoring system particularly for managers.
70. Are your managers working as super-technicians IN the business or are they truly working ON the business, and working on its future success?
71. Are your managers autocratic, too hands on, and de-motivating your employees? Up skill them or change them!
72. Are your managers ducking key issues and failing to confront problem situations? If so that needs to change!
73. The enemy of change is complacency. Get people’s attention – if necessary create a crisis!
74. Spell out the brutal facts about the challenges facing your organisation to all employees. Get their attention!
75. Create a sense of urgency about the need to change and fast!
76. Perhaps you have some difficult employees with real problems. Now is the time to get to grips with these with counselling.
77. Long term sickness issues need to be addressed. You cannot afford to pay people forever who are not present in their jobs. Look for a solution and act on it.
78. Confront the corporate cynics, those who spread their negative attitude around and infect others.
79. Perhaps it’s time to change your rewards system to properly recognise high achievers.
80. Recognise the efforts of valued employees in any way that you can. Make sure you keep hold of them. They are your future.
81. Celebrate successes, no matter how small. Show that people’s contributions really matter.
82. Increase the number of social events in which employees can relax in an informal setting. Recharge their batteries!
83. Use social gatherings to build positive internal relationships.
84. Encourage managers to have informal, as well as formal, team gatherings. Use these gatherings as part of a healthy two way communication process.
85. Increase the quantity and quality of communications – face to face is best, top down, bottom up and across the organisation.
86. Have departments share what they do with other departments so everyone knows more about the organisation.
87. Arrange away days to focus on improving communications around specific issues e.g. customer service improvements.
88. Use healthy internal competition to recognise employees of the month, teams of the month etc.
89. Offer rewards for teams that come up with the most innovative product/service improvements.
90. Have people/teams work in friendly competition to find cost savings, process improvements and business improvement solutions etc.
Best Practice Sharing
91. Invite key suppliers/customers to share best practices they are using.
92. Invite well known external subject matter experts to talk to your managers on current trends/future developments.
93. Encourage best practice sharing between internal departments.
94. Are there too many petty policies and rules clogging up the works? Get rid of them.
95. Are there too many people involved in making decisions? Simplify the process.
96. Has the organisation become too inward looking and ‘political’? Change the focus to one that is external and fast!
97. Are internal structures too complex? Simply them.
98. Are internal structures now inappropriate? Change them.
99. Is there a lack of proper structure and infrastructure? Create what is necessary.
See the recession as an opportunity versus a threat. Take this as an opportunity to re-think the basics, plan new strategies and re-invent the business.
When the wind blows again make sure you capture every inch of it in your powerful new sails and translate the power into a sleeker, faster hull!