Tuesday, January 3, 2012

You Know You're in a Rut When...

...You insist on 360 reviews for your staff who've been with you for many years. They are who they are going to be. Either they're successful at building effective relationships or they aren't. Going through the same 'grind' isn't going to tell you anything new because the staffer's peers won't tell you anything new. It's only worthwhile doing 360 reviews if there are new dynamics to the relationships--like new people on your staff or new direct reports to the staffer--or the staffer has been trying to behave differently or the person has been given new responsibilities.

...You use the same process to set new goals even though last year's goals were not met. The same thinking that failed to hit the targets will lead you to failure this year. Have you brought in different people to analyze the market--a board of advisers, employees with customer touch-points, etc.? Have you looked at the supporting goals, objectives and projects that were meant to accomplish the goals? If you met them, then you don't know the X factor that's missing that would have brought the company goals to fruition. If you didn't accomplish the tier 2 goals, then you know what you need to change the leadership process to put more focus on them.

...Your list of competitors hasn't really changed in the past 10 years. Maybe a few dropped out, and maybe a few were added, but the ones added were a lot like the ones you removed from the list. With the dramatic economic cycles in the past few years, your customers are exploring more options on how to use the dollars they would have spent with your company or your competitors. Milk producers compete with orange juice manufacturers and water bottlers, and the home faucet. Rental car companies compete with public transportation, hotel shuttles, bike rentals and friends/colleagues who are willing to share their mode of transportation.

...Your company newsletter has similar articles from issue to issue. Or the way you communicate company news hasn't changed in many years. If you haven't changed it much, chances are high that people aren't retaining the important information, or you're not sharing important information. Your employees can probably tell you about an episode of "NCIS: LA" from last season better than they can tell you the company goals, or a significant change with one of your key customers. I'm not saying you need to get LL Cool J or Chris O'Donnell to deliver the company news; I'm saying you engage your employees with substantive information and help them apply it. What happens in your company is more important than what's on TV. However, we don't treat the information like it is life-altering. Let them know if they're winning or losing as a team.

...You tried Six Sigma, Lean, and any other new program you've heard or read about. You've gone from one to another. You've applied new IT applications to your current business processes. With any of these strategies, you're spinning your wheels without really knowing how it's going to help you pull ahead. If the business process is broken, automating it with Lotus Notes or Google Docs or...will only get you to a failed result more quickly. You're probably applying the tools from Six Sigma and Lean without knowing if it fits your business model, or knowing where the biggest benefit is. If you're going from program to program, you're operating in 'frantic' mode with taking the time to know what's really happening in your business. Maybe you should try "Undercover Boss" methods (just kidding! don't!). But do practice Open Tour by getting out there and understanding what's working and what's not getting you the results you need.

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