Saturday, 30 November 2013

Get your staff onside

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

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

If you 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

Motivate (first or second?)

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

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

SMES ... and productiivty

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.

This is what i have been saying on tyour behals.  i hope you think I gave the right message.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Do your competitors worry you?

Are you worried by what your competitors are doing?

If you are, it must be because you think they are doing some things better than you.

This is not their fault.

Identify what it is ... and then set about beating them at their own game.  Then identify what you might do that they will have difficulty matching ... and strike for a lead.  if you keep playing 'catchup', you will ultimately fail.  Let them catch you up instead.