Human beings often have a great ability to simply solider on.
When the going gets tough, we tend to keep going without ever looking around to see whether there’s a better way. After all, as long as the work gets done somehow, everyone wins, right? Well, not really. Perhaps, in the case of a booming start-up, things just have to get done to keep up with demand, even if they’re done inefficiently. But in the long-term that’s unsustainable.
For example, a recent client with just 14 people in their organisation had a huge demand for their product. They’d nailed a niche for hospitals by embedding computers powered by long-life batteries into the carts that nurses and doctors use. This probably should have happened ten years ago, but it hadn’t, so our client was doubling in size each year. That might sound wonderful (and, of course, in many ways it was), but it was also incredibly stressful. They didn’t have the internal systems to support such growth, so they spent way too much time trying to manage information across emails and other inefficient means. So when they turned up for their first workshop with us, they looked exhausted. I admired their awareness in recognising that they couldn’t continue so chaotically. I also admired the fact that they were prepared to invest in their future, especially as they were much smaller than the firms we usually work with. To help them, we introduced an efficient solution that would enable them to continue growing sustainably, while needing to hire fewer staff.
If people are struggling to deliver work effectively, business impacts can include financial loss due to wasted time, poor customer service and loss of the best staff. Meanwhile, if people are working inefficiently, they know it, which can result in frustration, poor performance and going home feeling bad about the day, which affects home life. I’d like to think that most organisations care about their workers – about their wellbeing and success. At least, all organisation leaders say that they care.
If that’s true in your organisation, you need to give your staff the best tools, guidance and support, so they can work to the best of their ability. You need to let them stretch and grow, and surprise themselves as to what they can achieve.
As a consultancy owner, there’s nothing more that I want for my staff than to see them reach their full potential. Every organisation has a responsibility to assist their staff to grow. I understand that some employees just won’t make the effort, but my experience is that if you give them a chance, many will. Of course, any initiatives you bring in have to align with company strategy and make sense to the bottom line. But I’m not referring to sending people on training courses or throwing them lavish parties. I’m simply talking about helping your people to give their best every day. (And imagine what it could mean if your organisation was full of people who did that!)
This is an extract from my new book Digital Transformation from the Inside Out. Click here for more information about the book and to download a free 3-chapter extract.