Saturday, 30 November 2013

Get them onside

We want our staff to participate ... to take part in improvement projects and initiatives - even to initiate them.

But we have to first engage them - we have to make them see why we want to improve , why it is in their interests, and why they should become involved.

If we don't get their interest and support, they won't participate willingly.

So, think about what motivates them, what might encourage them and offer them reward .... understand their concerns, hopes and fears ... and  then find ways to engage them - on their terms, not yours..

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Moving Forward

On the LinkedIn group which I moderate (Productivity Futures) we have recently had a discussion about which come first - motivation or productivity.

One side of the argument (conventional wisdom) suggests that we motivate staff (with exhortation. encouragement, rewards or whatever) and that motivation results in higher productivity and higher satisfaction for the workforce.

The counter argument is that workers work hard - perhaps because they are well-organised and well-managed.... and that performance results in them being rewarded and satisfied, creating motivation for future performance.

In some respects, the argument is irrelevant.  As a business manger or owner, you need to work on the motivation of staff, setting achievable targets and goals (which are understood and agreed by those responsible for achieving them).   This is something which should be ongoing and regular - not an occasional one-off intervention or initiative.

Then we end up with satisfied, highly productive workers - completing the cycle of motivation, productivity, motivation.... wherever it starts.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Targets are not enough

In the measurement field.there seems to be an assumption that, if you set targets, people will - by default - be motivated to achieve them.

However, clearly you need also to have a plan ... a sequence of activities that move you ever closer towards the target.

The target is the easy bit. Establishing an effective plan is much harder.  So you should spend your effort in proportion to this difficulty ... and focus on the plan.

But even this is not enough.

When you have the plan you have to marshall the resources to make it happen ... and motivate people to make them want to achieve it.

In most situations, whether you reach your targets will depend on people not plans.  Focus your people - and make sure they have the knowledge and skills to help you move towards your targets.

Now you have a chance of success.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Productivity in SMEs

This week I have been at an event organised by RKW in Germany and involving representatives of the European Association of National Productivity Centres (EANPC) and the European Management Association (EMA).

We have been discussing the current state of SMEs in Europe ... and what can be done to improve their contribution to the European economy - important as Europe continues its attempt to climb out of recession.

My own view is that governments often have too many policies and programmes aimed at helping SMEs. My experience is that SMEs are flexible and adaptive ... and therefore will adapt to take advantage of, and funding from, government initiatives.... but the strong ones will survive anyway ... and the weak ones are unlikely to thrive and grow even with such interventions.

Governments should establish the necessary infrastructure (especially the macroeconomic and regulatory framework - where regulation should be minimal and supportive - but crucially also the education and training - for skills - infrastructure, the transport and communications infrastructures). Note that this framework applies just as much to large companies as to SMEs.

Government's job, then, is to get out of the way and let flexible, dynamic, innovative SMEs build their businesses within that supportive environment.

So we need fewer initiatives but a stronger, more appropriate infrastructure. Then we  let the strong survive and thrive.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

How much?

We often see statements that such and such an issue cost so many millions of money.  The latest case was the US government 'shutdown'.  I have seen various estimates of the cost to the economy.

Almost certainly all are wrong.

When there is, say, an industrial dispute at a small factory, 'losses' are often based on average daily revenues.  However, when the factory is shut down, the organisation saves costs and products may continue to ship from stock.  Any losses are hard to estimate.

Think how much more difficult it is to do this when considering: (a) a complex organisation like the US government; (b) an organisation in the public sector.

Sure, the shutdown cost - but how much we'll never know.

And, perhaps the greatest cost was to the US' reputation and the degree of confidence in the US from potential foreign investors and purchasers.