Do You Have a Complex Business or are Your People Issues Complicating Business?

Over time, there are moments when performing your job can push you to your limits. Usually that means more sales are coming through the door and bringing cash to the business. But if you’re running 1000 miles per hour all the time, there is still a problem.

As mentioned in previous articles, poor processes and systems may be the cause of your issues. However, sometimes it’s the people that can get in the way. We’ll use our own experience of a real professional services firm, which we’ll call ABC, that exemplified this very notion throughout. The adequate systems seemed to be in place, but a breakdown in culture lead to stifled execution. How do you stop an organization’s toxic culture and inability to effectively communicate from overcomplicating a person’s job?

The best processes can exist on paper, but if they aren’t communicated and enforced, they’re worth no more than the paper they’re written on. A staff meeting to cover how a new system or feature works isn’t enough. Routine monitoring and consistent enforcement ensure tools and processes are used properly, as well as resolve unexpected issues. Once there’s been communication, holding team members accountable will make the process stick. Otherwise, people may revert to their old habits.

If the new process doesn’t take a foothold, there may be deeper issues. A company that fosters egotistical personalities, whether purposefully or through negligence, may cultivate an environment where team members may be purposely adding complexity to their work.

In ABC, the CEO shared that the processes inherent to their business were overly complex and the system in place was inadequate. However, the response of a larger competitor was quite different. Processes were standardized and the system in place could cover their needs – the very same system used by our example company.

Why would the needs of two very similar companies be different? ABC fostered an environment of minimal collaboration, placing more value on the “smartest person in the room”. Simplifying their jobs without doing an expensive overhaul attacked that very notion. In an environment of collaboration, companies can learn to automate processes and focus on real complex issues, providing insight that their customers see as highly valuable.

In a similar vein, efficient processes may make some people feel replaceable. Companies need to create an environment of professional growth and ownership. The ability to free up time in one area should be met with opportunity in another, not job loss. Even for ABC, keeping processes complex gave team members a sense of being irreplaceable. With no system in place to foster professional growth, there’s no incentive to become more efficient.

Whether it’s a culture of defensiveness or ego, new systems and processes are met with avoidable roadblocks. Management should strive to standardize workflows to maximize the value their team members can bring to the company. This can only happen in organizations with a well-communicated direction and guiding principles.

An unclear vision can also pull employees in many different directions, creating costly distractions. Distractions are the bane of a company’s existence because while team members are busy chasing them, they miss more productive opportunities. A clear vision ensures team members follow processes and keep a laser focus. Team members that understand their purpose in the organization can make better decisions to advance the goals of the company, which should create a substantial return on investment.

The processes and tools can only take an organization so far – it’s the people that will create value in an organization. When team members’ goals aren’t aligned with the company’s goals, processes and tools become convoluted, decreasing the ability of the organization to get things done.

If you feel like there’s unnecessary complexity in your business, give us a call to help simplify your work.