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Management does not understand what is required

Welcome to this issue of the Business Excellence Newsletter. Spring is here and now that the sun is shining and the warmth is back, so are the good ideas.

Many times when I’m out in different organisations, it creeps up that the management “doesn’t understand” what it takes to run the business and what it takes to improve it. Those working operationally in the organisation may have a lot of ideas about improvements that should be made but it is difficult to get them heard.

One of the arguments that comes up from the management is that “we have a lot to do” which means that the daily work takes up so much time that there is no time for reflection and improvement. Just lower your head and look at the ski tips and “ahead” in the blizzard. Unfortunately, you don’t see the warm and comfy band wagon with GPS on the side, which can take you to your destination in a much better way.

I think that the management is afraid that the daily work will be severely affected when the staff starts a lot of projects on the side.

The second is that there is no budget for improvement, which is a huge mistake by the management. There must always be resources, both time and money, set aside for improvement.

I see that the reasons behind this way of thinking are several. One is that the management does not have confidence in the staff, that they can take their own initiatives to run the business better. The second is that it is very common to have only one-way communication within the organisation.

To take the first point first, it is common for leaders to see that staff need to be managed all the time in order to get things done. It is the manager who has the responsibility and authority, which also deprives the staff of the same for the whole. If responsibility and authority trickle down into an organisation that is built the wrong way, it is often counterproductive to what is being sought down the pyramid.

You don’t see the organisation as a team running the business. A team, by the way, is not the same as a group of people. A team is a cohesive group working together towards a clear goal.

Achieving the self-sustaining organisation requires a clear vision with clear goals and clear strategies. We need to see that the organisation is made up of people working in different roles, working together to deliver value to customers.

The second is that there is a great lack of two-way communication. Leaders often stand at large meetings and explain the situation and what is going to happen. This does not provide an opportunity for staff to have their say or ask questions. Many times it is not comfortable to do so in this forum, or perhaps not even possible.

Many organisations lack a structure to deal with staff’s ongoing thoughts and ideas. The staff has a lot of ideas on how to improve the business but no one to discuss them with. This creates frustration and breeds thoughts that “nobody cares” and that it “isn’t my business”.

This is a pity, as the organisation is losing a lot of energy and thought that would otherwise lead to improved operations.

All this negativity spills over to customers, which in turn is negative for business.
Make sure you have a clear vision, with clear goals and strategies, and that employees have been involved in the work. And as a leader, it is your duty to provide the conditions and opportunities for employees to work as a team and run the business, then to stand back and not interfere with their work.

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