Saturday, 26 December 2020

Festive Time

I know Christmas day was yesterday, and I know some readers do not celebrate Christmas ... but I send greetings anyway.  

I also remind you that 'festivities' are valuable in  the workplace - to celebrate, and cement, success.

So, take what chances you can to combine seasonal cheer with rewards for effort and success.

Saturday, 19 December 2020

Critical Success Factors

Every business - and every manager in that  business - should know what are the critical success factors … what must the company do - and do well - if they are to be successful.  What are the factors that underpin the mission.  

The aim is not to identify lots of these - but the essential (‘critical’) ones.

One probably relates in one way to customer satisfaction or service; another (especially in smaller businesses) might relate to the control of work-in-progress and/or cashflow.

Once these are identified, the business should identify some measure that will tell them how well (or badly) they are doing in relation to each CSF.  These are the organisation’s key performance indicators (KPIs) - and there should be at least one that relates to each CSF.

Finally, they need to identify actions that will make those indicators move in the right direction, showing progress is being made in relation to the CSFs and towards the mission.

We like to think of a form of ‘golden thread’ that runs through everything the organisation does - from establishing the mission, to identifying CSFs, to identifying appropriate KPIs - and establishing acv set of action plans.

The concept is very simple; execution  is harder - but failing to create the golden thread means some important factor may be overlooked.

Saturday, 12 December 2020

The Secret Productivity Weapon

We have all been in situations where we have received efficient, friendly service from someone with a smile.  Efficient AND friendly service is so much more effective at creating customer well-being and customer loyalty than merely efficient service.  

We remember it.  We value it. We react to it.

It must be more than ‘smile training’ or the muttering of phrases such as ‘Have a Nice Day’. It should be genuine pleasure from someone who knows their role, knows how to interact with people - and is aware of the effect their attitude can have on customers.

Some of this can be trained - but some of it depends on hiring those who already have the right attitude, keeping those people informed and engaged - and rewarding the behaviours that delight your customers. 

Of course, friendly service cannot make up for inefficient or poor service.  Efficient service is the bedrock on which friendly service can be built.

It is not rocket science but it is not common to receive such service.

Think about it.  A smile might be your secret weapon to improve customer service and improve productivity.

Saturday, 5 December 2020

I Undderstand The Fear

Lots of workers (in manufacturing) are concerned about losing their jobs to robots, as the inexorable rise of automated machines and AI gathers pace.

One common ‘defence’ is to suggest that robots only take over the drudgery - leaving the humans to take on more skilled, more knowledge-based tasks, and making the workplace safer.

This is a valid argument - unless, of course, you are one of the ‘drudges’ and do not find yourself elevated to the richer, knowledge-based work held out in front of you when the changes were proposed.

Those of you older than 40 in the UK will know that a whole generation has grown up in former mining communities with very few alternative job opportunities.

Once, young unskilled males had the options of mining, manufacturing or military.  Now those options are limited to filling orders in a warehouse, flipping burgers or driving a delivery van  - and automation is set to tackle at least two of those in the coming years.

The dream when I was growing up was that such automation and technological advancement would allow us all to work fewer hours and yet live better lives. In practice technology has made a very small number of people very rich, left many people working much longer hours (or multiple jobs) and left quite a lot of people with no job at all.

We generate more wealth - but we distribute it les equally.

This is a recipe for short-term gain but longer-term unrest.

We need an industrial strategy that is tied to a social strategy - and we need a productivity strategy that addresses all of social, environmental and economic benefit.