Eight Ways To Stimulate Your Business

Every business organization – large and small – has StimBizthe tendency, over time, to lose its edge, become complacent, drifting into a level of mediocrity which reduces the competitive position of the company. Employees feel it first, then supervision, management and leadership levels notice. Along the way the customer notices that the product or service is not as reliable or responsive as it used to be and they then turn to seek other alternatives in the marketplace.

Mediocrity becomes the norm and the business loses it’s competitive edge.

Improving Personal Performance
We all know what happens when we are personally stimulated. We are more alert, ready to act, and prepared to go the extra mile. Repeated stimulation targeted at areas of our body or behavior, over time, creates “muscle” memory so that we begin to perform at a new level without the presence of the stimulation. The new performance becomes the new norm.

Using a golf-pro to get suggestions about improving your golf back swing, grip, or stance will lead (with practice) to a positive change in how you play the game. The same is true to improve a tennis serve, effectiveness in aerobic or weight training, or casting when fly-fishing.

If we know this is true for us as individuals, then imagine how effective it can be in a business context.

Improving Business Performance
Stimulation techniques for businesses are designed to change behavior that will improve company performance. While it is possible for an organization to develop a new behavior on its own, it is often necessary to introduce an external stimulus. Sometimes a business will receive an unplanned stimulus such as a serious product quality problem or loss of a major customer. Experiencing a crisis condition is a wake up call to change company behavior

On the other hand, responsible management will recognize that company behavior needs to change prior to experiencing an unplanned crisis condition that could affect profitability and reputation. They will consider one of the following eight steps to stimulate their organization to improve company behavior and performance.

  1. Introduce a new employee. Changing the supervision of a group either with an external hire or rotation of a leader within the company will bring a new approach to how the group operates. If a glass ceiling existed for the previous leader, the new person will challenge it and take on what was previously considered undoable. If that person has experience in a previous position where the business needs to grow, then they will set objects for the group to move in that direction.
  1. Critical review of company procedures and practices. An effective way to stimulate your organization is to commission a review of your critical business processes and practices by a competent third party. In-house staff can become comfortable with the current way the business is operating. They are not in the best position to challenge or critique what they are doing. The right third party will be able to provide a new perspective with recommendations with what should be changed to deal with shortfalls or how to take advantage of resources that are not effectively deployed.
  1. Technical competency. As companies grow in the marketplace they will produce more sophisticated products and services to solve more sophisticated applications for the customer. However, the company will need to make sure it matches the technical demands of the customer applications in which the products and services are deployed. Additional training and or selective hiring will improve technical competency.This strategy will not only make the business more competent in the eyes of the customer but will have a positive impact internally. Continuously improving company expertise will result in more effective and competitive products and services.
  1. Encourage ideas from within. One of the under used resources are the ideas of those closest to the use of the products and services that are sold. Employees that work with the customer, in the manufacture and assembly process, or repair of the product can be an excellent source of information on what needs to be done to make your company more successful. As employees see their ideas applied to the business they will be stimulated to be observant for additional opportunities to make improvements in what they are doing.
  1. Recognition. Another inexpensive way to stimulate your organization is recognition of people and teams for doing things right, implementing new ideas and identifying ways to improve product quality. If employees see management recognizing people doing things better can create positive competition and stimulate people to look at their jobs critically.
  1. Management Access. When managers (including top managers and mid-level executives) make it easy for employees at any level to talk to them amazing things can happen. This can best happen by using the MBWA (Management By Walking Around) principle where casual conversation with employees can result in discoveries – between manager and employee – that can lead to positive change. Employee events such as celebrations of birthdays, seniority, meeting a performance goal is another way to brake down barriers between management and employee that can lead to suggestions or discoveries and better quality or performance.
  1. Walk-Your-Talk. Inconsistencies in what employees are told and management conduct can create mistrust. It is very important for management (and owner) to walk-the-talk. As employees see management observing the same policies and practices that guide them improves the working relationship. This will improve the willingness to volunteer suggestions that can make a difference in how a team, group or business operates.
  1. Strategic Plan. A strategic planning process is an excellent way to stimulate the organization. Care should be taken to involve the right part of the organization in the process and to possibly use a facilitator to reduce the pressure that top management might have in influencing the outcome and/or suppressing suggestions and ideas in creating the plan.

One of the greatest downfalls of an effective planning process is the absence of effective reviews during the planning period. If the review is only done annually then the organization will wonder if the plan has any teeth. A plan under a quarterly review process is more likely to be effective as objectives and resources are adjusted as new information is collected. Managers and employees are more likely to be stimulated by a believable plan than one that does not receive much attention if it not looked at for a year.

Summary

The eight suggestions above are actions that I have used, participated in or seen used in other organizations that generated significant results. As a senior member of your organization ask yourself the following questions about the organization:

  • Is the organization too comfortable? Are performance results mediocre?
  • Have managers been in the positions too long and is it time for rotation or possibly the introduction of new blood?
  • Do you have a healthy suggestion program to improve performance?
  • Do you have a planning process? Do people consider it believable? Do you have regular reviews?
  • Do top/middle managers have a positive relationship with line employees?
  • How old is the last process/practice review of the company?

If you are not comfortable with your answers to a number of these questions then you need to stimulate your business.