5 Steps to Improve the Speed of Your Organisation
I can't tell you the number of companies I have seen who list speed or "responsiveness" in some form as a core value in their organisation. They claim it's the way of working in their business but when you really look it's just not there. It's listed because the leadership knows that moving at speed in the right areas is critical to getting things done, to staying ahead of the competition (or in some cases the bank!) so it's listed as a core value.
Unfortunately, just writing it down doesn't make it so, in fact, writing it down when it's not true makes it a lie and that's not a good place for a Leader to be.
If you want your team or your organisation to move faster, to respond to problems faster, to get solutions for customers in a timely manner there are five things as a Leader you need to do to help.
1. If the speed, the sense of urgency needed is genuinely not there don't claim it is!
By claiming you have a sense of urgency you just make yourself look ridiculous, everyone in the organisation knows it's a problem so why claim it's not? Call out the elephant in the room - highlight it's not, this way people understand where they are at and that there is a gap to be closed.
2. Make clear what is important and why it is important.
The old adage "If it's important to me (the boss) it's important to you" is a very true statement but people need to know what's important. You need to be very clear about what it is you see as important and why, how does it impact your organisation or your customers.
3. Keep digging into an issue until it's resolved.
If you need to solve an issue, say a production problem or a change in how your planning team plan work you need to ask the hard questions and challenge the answers. That's where more people, however, seem to stop. Meetings are held, people come unprepared, some uncomfortable questions are asked, and no solutions are found. Then guess what, a week goes by and nothing has happened, no updates, no improvements, no actions. No speed. You need to be clear that status quo isn't acceptable, investigate, get some facts, have proposals for change and then implement those changes within a specific time frame. Set deadlines, follow up in advance to ensure things are happening and they know it's important to you. Don't stop asking questions on multiple fronts!
4. Don't continue with a meeting that people have come unprepared for.
How much time will you waste in a room with how many people trying to solve an issue that no one has done any research on? An hour, 2 hours?... (of course, don't forget to multiply that number of people in the room – let's say 6 so now its 12hrs). That's crazy. If people are not prepared to stop the meeting right there and explain you won't move forward without them being prepared. Reschedule the meeting for either later that day or the next day, no later, this is an important issue.
5. Move at the speed you need the organisation to operate at.
A department or an organisation will move at the speed of its leader. If you don't have urgency or don't hold people to the requirement of urgency there will not be any. I'm not suggesting for a moment everyone runs around with their hair on fire, that's just a little mad. You need to pick the right things, but you need to make clear what the pace in your organisation is and that it becomes even faster in a crisis.
Instilling this sense of urgency doesn't take long, it does, however, take consistency and a willingness to hold people to a standard, yourself included. Be honest with the current situation and give a vision of what you want it to be like. Ensure people know you won't accept the current pace and behaviour since that's what it is, a behaviour, and these can change. Only if you lead.
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