Looking back at 2015, what do you see? What worked well and what seemed to cause you a lot of frustration, took up a lot of your time and maybe even cost you a lot of money? These are the business processes that you should have on your list for review during 2016. And the sooner the better or else you might find yourself struggling with the same issues during the New Year ahead.
All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions
What we often find with the business owners we work with, is that they become so overwhelmed by the operational needs and requirements of the business that they seldom get to the very important part of sustaining their business performance going forward – continuous improvement.
This element of your business is in fact so critical that I would recommend getting some help if you cannot get to it yourself. Continuous improvement activities should always yield more financial benefit than the cost involved in it, so the business case makes sense from the word go. If you can however make the time to take the lead on it yourself, here is how I suggest you go about it.
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Create a single repository of ideas
Take some time to get started with making a list of challenges you have faced. This works better if you can involve the rest of your team and could be incorporated as part of your strategic planning process.
Nobody knows better what challenges you face than you. After its initial creation, the list should remain dynamic – remove items as they are addressed and add new challenges as they are uncovered, but keep it in a single place so that it can easily be accessed when unexpected opportunities arise (unscheduled time during load shedding, additional resources such as students doing internships, new employees still gaining momentum and not yet overloaded, a naturally quiet time of the year etc.)
Make a conscious effort to regularly focus attention to the list (maybe spend 15 minutes on it during a monthly meeting to update it), otherwise the items may disappear from your team’s list of priorities, but the challenges in real life won’t.
As with acquiring any new skill, the first time around may take a bit more time than it will by the hundredth time you repeat the process, but it will be a very worthwhile investment if at least the first challenge you tackle, can involve a larger group of team members.
The idea is to utilise this practical opportunity to show people how to go about addressing a challenge and improving a business process, so that they can, in future do it, without your supervision. This step may require some knowledge of problem-solving tools and / or business-process mapping.
Give each team member the responsibility to resolve a business challenge within a certain (realistic) time frame. Make this part of their normal day-to-day work and monitor progress during your regular meetings.
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In some organisations team members each work on a new challenge every month and give feedback in the form of a short presentation at the end of that month, during a 1 hour review meeting that gives them access to senior management. This is an excellent way to also identify up-and-coming talent in your organisation.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you do something. Your New Year will only be better if you take action and make it so!