Written by Anna Bernstein on 24 Mar 2014
As the head of a company your role could be compared to that of a captain of a ship. The buck stops with you. It is your responsibility to ensure that the ship runs efficiently and reaches its destination, whilst keeping your crew and passengers safe. As part of this responsibility, it is up to you to identify when things are not running smoothly or have broken down completely. And when you sail into dangerous waters, it is you alone who has to know when your ship is sinking and what to do about it.
A good captain can quickly identify, even predict, when their ship is running into danger, or that their crew is beginning to strain under pressure. It is at these moments of realisation that you, the captain, must act to solve the problem, restore performance and improve business; even if that means addressing your own weaknesses.
Sometimes it is the structure and processes that we have in place that damage the performance of our business. Weaknesses within key operations will lead to strain and eventual failure. Recognising weaknesses in how our business operates is a vital factor in business improvement. Some weaknesses can be easy to spot such as breakdowns in communication or the efficiency of sales flow. Other times it is much harder to pin point exactly where the missing clog in the machine lies.
This is a common occurrence and can happen within businesses and organisations of every size. Sometimes the best and most cost effective solution is to seek outside help. By employing the services of an outsourced specialist you will gain access to years of experience, knowledge and expertise; as well as a fresh and unbiased pair of eyes, which will work with you to identify, breakdown, analyse and rebuild the areas of your business that require improvement.
Other times the problem can lie within your employees. Remember, it is your responsibility to ensure that your crew are safe. In the business world, this means ensuring that your employees are happy, that they feel valued and that they are equipped to perform optimally.
Often when employee morale is low it is because they feel unmotivated, undervalued or undertrained. This can be a result of the culture in which they work and it is up to you to change that culture. Simple rewards such as an “Employee of the Month” bonus incentive can greatly improve motivation, as well as giving your employees a goal to strive towards, not to mention the sense of recognition and value from achieving them. Taking time to sit one-on-one with your employees to chat about their progress, their opinions and ambitions can help build respect and increase their sense of value further, as well as showing that you have their interests at heart and want to encourage development. Running regular in-house training sessions, or sending employees on business coaching and training programs, will build confidence. Being confident in your ability within a role not only improves performance, but leads to further development and career progression.
However, sometimes, the problem can lie within yourself and your management team, and this for a lot of managers is a harder pill to swallow. We all possess strengths and weaknesses. A good strength to possess is the ability to identify your own weaknesses and know when to seek help. In these circumstances, help can come in the form of Interim Management. All around the world, within some of the biggest corporations, interim managers are brought in to improve business. This is not because of the failings of current management; on the contrary, the deployment of interim management is, in more cases than not, the sign of strong management and leadership. It all boils back down to strengths and weaknesses, knowing when you are the best person for the job or not.
Employing an interim allows you to select the perfect person for the position, someone who has experience and knowledge, and a track record to prove it. They will be familiar with what needs to be done and will know best how to implement it. Not only that but they will be able to work closely with you, allowing you to learn and further build upon your own strengths. Best of all, whilst they tackle areas of weakness for you, you can concentrate on further developing the areas that play to your strengths.
When it comes to business improvement there are many options and paths you can take. But the key is in knowing when to sail towards these, so that your ship can stay afloat and on course for many years to come.