5 Steps to Increase Your Business' Effectiveness
Every business has areas that are ripe for improvement. Whether you are spending money in places that aren’t increasing your business value, your team is spread too thin to keep up with capacity, or any other of the 100+ things.
This article will describe five steps to help you increase your business’ effectiveness.
Step 1. Analyze Your Current State
It’s practically impossible to get where you want to go without knowing where you are. Have you ever used a GPS in your car? The device already knows 12 (or 1200) distinct routes to your destination, but unless your location can be pinpointed by the system, you won’t get the first instruction or turn.
The current processes in place, operation of your business, and results are all part of your current location. Spend a few minutes and think through the output each team and individual is supposed to create as a result of their work. How does each “cog,” so to speak, make the machine of your business work? Don’t think about the ideals of what should be done, but rather think about what is actually done.
Make sure you write the specifics down. It will be an important reference point later.
Step 2. Specify Your Goals
In order to create an effective roadmap to get from point A to B, you have to know both the starting location and the desired destination. Specifying your goals is key to any change process.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of “goal-setting” resources available. They all agree that any goal you set has to be specific and quantitative. I deviate slightly from the traditional goal definitions with the addition of “objective.” I like to say that goals need to be discernible by people outside of the organization. Some people would consider that objectivity would fall under the “Measurable” definition of “SMART” goals, but I think these 2 are importantly different.
For the purpose of this article, I would recommend picking 3-4 areas where you want to improve and setting goals in just those areas. Specifying 18 goals that you want to accomplish can seem daunting and overwhelm you or your team. Let’s keep it realistic to start with. Once you accomplish the current set of goals, it’s a fairly simple process to create a new set.
Step 3. Create/Implement Your Action Plan
This will be your actual roadmap. The key to this is making small, incremental changes. Change is hard for some people, and implementing too much change at once could create a shock in your system. You will want to ensure your team and employees are on board, ready, and expecting the changes.
The changes implemented should be carefully constructed. Make sure any new procedures are documented, so everyone within the organization can maintain the same perspective. The only way changes like this can succeed is through frequent and open communication, to ensure appropriate feedback is available from your team. Don’t rely too heavily on a single set of procedures. You yourself need to be adaptable and ready to pull the plug on changes that aren’t working.
Step 4. Evaluate the Success of Your Action Plan
In order to know if any of the changes you’ve had are making your team more effective, you will need to evaluate the success of your action plan. This is why we documented your current baseline (referred to as your GPS location) earlier. Take each metric you analyzed during step one. Perform another set of analyses and check the differences between your original location and your current location.
Are you closer to your specified goals now than you were before implementing the action plan? If you are, great! If you’re in the same place, that’s okay. Maybe the office is feeling livelier and you decide to keep that new buzz. Or you might actually be further away from your goal. At this point you’ll want to decide whether you should give the change more time to become fluent or cut your losses and try something else.
Step 5. Rinse and Repeat
Once you know what is working and what isn’t working, you’ll want to revisit your action plan. After step four, you now have a new baseline to compare against. Implement another small set of incremental changes and evaluate how they’re working.
This cycle will keep you and your team working towards becoming more effective over time. Stagnation is problematic for all businesses. It’s important to keep things fresh and moving forward. I like to use sharks as an illustration here. These guys are big and effective hunters, however sharks will fall to the bottom if they stop moving. In order to regulate its depth, a shark must keep moving forward.
Your business is a shark. Keep moving forward, or sink to the bottom.
Aaron Salt owns and operates a consulting firm based in Colorado. He is educated in psychology, social work, software development, and project management. Aaron’s background provides a diagnostic-like approach to business, which has allowed him success with multiple service-based industries.