Lean – Use Lean to Transform Your Organisation’s Culture

Lean – Use Lean to Transform Your Organisation’s Culture

A common misconception is that lean is only suitable for manufacturing but have a look at the article below and see how lean can be applied in the creative world and professional services.

Lean – first of all, what is it?

The core philosophy of lean is the elimination of waste. While it is easy to identify physical waste the greater challenge in most organisations is to identify the waste of time and resources. Most organisations are extremely busy, fire-fighting and pressure to meet deadlines are a way of life. Lean provides a structured approach and tried and trusted methodologies to eliminating wasted effort in organisations. It goes beyond the sloganeering of “work smarter not harder” and shows people how to analyse the true value of their work and eliminate non-value added activities.

A popular misconception is that lean is suited only for manufacturing. Not true. Lean applies in every organisation and every process. It is not a tactic or a cost reduction program, but a way of thinking and acting for an entire organisation.

The starting point of any lean programme is Value Stream Mapping. This involves the people working in the process stepping back and mapping the process to identify the value and non-value activities they regularly engage with. From here several techniques are employed to get to the root cause of the non-value add activities. The result is an increase in the effectiveness of the individuals or team performance.

Lean is not a stand-alone programme but supports the implementation of policies and procedures in a meaningful way. It is a change management programme and as such will require the engagement of employees fully. Therefore, it is important that a lean initiative is not seen as the “flavour of the month” or something that is imposed by senior management. Key to success will be introducing a lean programme in such a way that employees see the benefits of the programme and that it is fully supported by the leadership of the organisation. All successful lean initiatives recognise that people are the key to success and as such LEAP are well equipped to support the people development element of the programme.

 

 Examples of Lean in practice.

  A Design Studio

A design studio in a printing company kept five fully committed designers very busy. When we analysed how many hours of their working week was billed to customers (Value add work) we discovered that they were 52{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4} efficient. The remaining 48{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4} of their time was non-value added work. This was the time spent answering queries from production, requesting further information from clients, clarifying issues with the sales teams etc.

The first thing we did was create an “Interruptions Board” We assigned one of the five designers to deal with all interruptions. Each of the five were assigned one day per week as their day to deal with interruptions. On their assigned day, they would deal with the call or visitor and place their query on the board under the name of designer the query was directed towards. That designer would then deal with the query when he/she was taking a break or at the end of the day. This allowed four designers to work uninterrupted every day.

Following on from this, the designers could look at the nature of the interruptions and through using lean techniques were able to establish the root cause of the interruptions. Working together with production, clients and sales team they developed systems to reduce the non-value added activities.  The increase in value added activity in the studio increased from 52{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4} to 83{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4} within months and they continue to uses the methodology for continuous improvement.

 Accountancy Practice.

When you visit an accounts office the “work” is invisible, in other words you see lots of people sitting at computer terminals. It is impossible to determine how effective the operation is or how efficient each individual is. There is no doubt that everyone is “busy”.

By undertaking Value Stream Mapping, we were able to see that most of the work that came into the office had incomplete paperwork, forms missing, items not attached etc. This meant that when employees started a job they were not in position to complete it. This necessitated making a phone call or emailing a client to request the full information. The job was set aside until the information was made available. They then started another job and the same thing happened. This resulted in a huge amount of Work In Progress. There was confusion as to the status of individual jobs, clients not returning information, forgetting to chase up etc. This kept everyone busy.

When we demonstrated this by graphing the workflows we then set about doing a root cause analysis to develop systems and processes to prevent incomplete jobs entering the system. We also created a visual system that could measure the improved efficiency of the department. It resulted in much better management of peak times in the business such as year-end accounts. There was less stress for the staff and the necessity to work late in the evenings disappeared.

 

John Raftery       March 2017

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4 Key Questions Every Successful Manager Must Be Able To Answer

4 Key Questions Every Successful Manager Must Be Able To Answer

4 key questions every successful manager must be able to answer

Management effectiveness is ultimately about developing a strong team capable of delivering company objectives. There are two crucial components of a manager’s job – operational management and people management. In this article Tricia Cunningham outlines the people aspect of the role and what managers need to get right in order to be successful.

Tricia, what is management effectiveness in practice?
A great manager has two fey focuses. There is the technical or operational side of their role and there is the people side of their role. So for a great manager there are two components to the management role, with 4 elements within each component.

On the operational effectiveness side there are four key requirements:

Technical

1. Plan
2. Organise
3. Influence
4. Control

As Marcus Buckingham, prolific writer on best management practices points out, there are four key requirements on the people side that an effective manager needs to get right:

People

1. Select the right people for their team
2. Set and agree on expectations with the team members
3. Motivate the individual members
4. Develop people for long-term contribution to the organisation

Management effectiveness is about achieving results through optimum use of the resources available, the key resource being the people on the team. If you really want to be a great manager you need to pay attention to both the operational and the people aspects of the role. Our experience of working in the SME sector for nearly 20 years has highlighted the need for management to understand how to manage a team effectively. That’s the most challenging part of the role.

Our Management Effectiveness Programme doesn’t focus on the technical aspects of the role because that is very specific to each organisation, but the issues and challenges around managing people are common across all sectors and all industries. This is the area we zone in on and explore comprehensively with participants – building their confidence and competency in a range of management skills.

Here are 4 Key Questions for Managers in Managing People

1. Do you understand how to select the right talent for your team and for the organisation?

2. Do you know how to set expectations and measure results?
– do you regularly review expectations with feedback sessions with your employees?
– do you know how to measure performance effectively?
– how about annual performance appraisals with your team members?

3. How will you keep your team members motivated so that they want to keep coming in to work and continue to do the very best job they can?

4. Finally, when you have developed a great team, ask yourself how are you going to keep them in the organisation long-term? You need to keep them engaged and that requires further development. Have you a long-term development plan for your team?

 


Tricia Cunningham

 

 

 

 

Tricia Cunningham, senior partner at LEAP.
Click here for information about our management development programmes.

Contact us today to speak to a business advisor
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Interview with Des Kirby

Effective Performance Management Means People Working Smarter

Performance Management

Effective performance management is more than just measuring the KPI outputs of the team. It also focuses on the behaviour of individuals and whether or not they reflect the values of the whole organisation. Here John Raftery discusses performance within a core competencies framework while Tricia Cunningham  outlines key elements in the performance management process that all managers need to be aware of.

Performance Management Systems

There are a number of issues with performance management. A lot of the larger companies have performance management systems and some of the complaints that are made about them is that they become tick box exercises and people don’t particularly enjoy doing them. They are often reluctant to use them to their full potential, but really good performance management systems cover two things.

One is the hard metrics i.e. your outputs, your KPIs and other deliverables that can be measured. The other side of it is the side that I think people find more difficult and challenging and relates to behaviours and attitudes. Effective performance management systems will examine those through a competency framework. At the very top level of the organisation the senior management team will work with us to identify what are the core values or competencies that the organisation requires.

The organisation may require three or four core competencies that can be turned into behaviours.

We then identify what those behaviours are so we can begin to rate people in terms of what level they are at in relation to the core behaviours. To use time keeping as a simple example; if people turn up for work two minutes to nine and they leave at two minutes to five, this causes a lot of frustration for managers because they feel they can’t challenge the employee as they are arriving on time and leaving on time. But there are three levels of time keeping.

1. You arrive on time and you leave on time. That’s the basic entry level time keeping requirement.

2. At the next level the employee is ready to start work at 9am with all of their documents ready for a team meeting for example. And if meetings or tasks go past 5pm people are willing to stay on. They will show the same flexibility regarding lunch breaks.

3. The third level concerns flexibility, particularly when there is an emergency or if issues arise at the weekend. Are you available?

You can then develop a template or framework for behaviours that you measure employees against in terms of their time keeping.

But performance management means getting people to work smarter as opposed to working longer hours.

You are trying to help people focus on achieving what you want them to achieve and make sure they are moving in the right direction. People at every level of the organisation should have some way to measure performance in terms of the hard metrics but also for attitudes and behaviours and to get constructive feedback from a supervisor at least once a year.

Performance Management Process

A challenge for many managers with the performance management process is managing the conversation. Many worry about how the conversation will go and how they will raise “difficult” points with an employee.

All examples of an employee’s performance should be discussed with the employee close to the time it occurred so that the details are fresh and can therefore be explored properly. The performance management conversation is reinforcing the comments made previously in addition to discussing important issues like future objectives or goals.

Managers should regularly discuss an employee’s performance so that there are no “surprises” in the meeting regarding behaviours the employee demonstrated.

Managers and Communication Skills

Performance ManagementCommunication involves words, tone and body language. A manager needs to make sure all three elements are aligned.

For example, if the message is positive then the tone needs to be upbeat and the body language engaging. If on the other hand the message is reminding the employee of the need to change behaviours then the tone and body language needs to reflect this requirement. Managers can’t confuse employees because they are uncomfortable with conveying a particular message. Practice makes perfect so managers need to practice how they will convey a difficult message.

Managers Need to Anticipate Difficulties

Anticipate possible difficulties the conversation might raise and consider your responses ahead of time. By anticipating your response you will be more relaxed and confident and you know how you will respond. Remain calm and focused.

Isolate the issue and address that issue before moving to the next point.

Employee Assessment

An employee values this conversation. This is an opportunity for an employee to really understand how the organisation is assessing their contribution. The majority of employees, and especially your top performers, are eager to discuss what they need to do to continue being valuable to the organisation.

John Raftery
       John Raftery
Tricia Cunningham
Tricia Cunningham

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview by Des Kirby

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Create a Personal Development Plan to Help You Succeed

 

Create a personal development plan to help you succeed

A Personal Development Plan can prove to be a very useful tool for managers at every level of the organisation, whether you are just starting out or you’re a management veteran. Here Tricia Cunningham outlines what a personal development plan looks like, how it helps you as well as your boss and why measuring the plan is vital. 

What is a Personal Development Plan?
A personal development plan is a document that captures agreed actions and areas of focus to help the individual with an existing role or a potential role and to be able to deliver on that role. The personal development plan generally speaking includes a number of areas of focus the person is going to take on board. Specific actions that they can take on board relate to those areas of focus.

For example, to attend a training programme or it might be to read up on some specific area of the business, or it could be to work in a different area of the business for a period of time. That may be one day a week continuously or for a temporary period of several weeks working in a particular area of the organisation. It outlines some action the individual will take that they need to develop to enhance their existing role or to grow into a new role.

Is the plan time-based?
There has to be time-frames associated with it otherwise it will drag on indefinitely. We know from studies and from experience that what gets measured gets managed. So if the time frames have deadlines included in them, people are more likely to feel accountable and therefore more likely to deliver on the plan.

What would a typical personal development plan look like for a manager?
Well for example, we have front line managers starting on our programmes and one of the key areas they would list in their personal development plan would be communication. So an action might be attending a training programme on developing communication skills. Or it may be simply watching a set of videos or TedTV clips on how to give constructive feedback effectively. Another step would be the individual, within a defined period of time, would provide some kind of feedback to each employee within their team, then assess the impact that it had and evaluate whether or not the individual handled the process effectively in terms of changes in behaviour.

In addition to communication skills, a frontline manager could also have some technical aspect to their role. For example, project management skills. So the individual may include completing a certified course in project management in their development plan, by a particular date. There may be an upcoming project that they will be working on where knowledge of project management tools will be required. They could be partnered with a mentor in the company who will work with them using those project management tools.

Essentially the personal development plan recognises the areas where the employee needs to improve or some new aspect of the job that they have never worked in before. So the plan may be written in order to address deficiencies in a particular area, or it may be used to develop the ambitions of the employee who wants to be in a stronger position to take on new opportunities within the organisation.

Personal Development Plan

What should be done with the Personal Development Plan once it’s written?
A personal development plan usually comes about as a result of an appraisal of an employee. So the senior manager and employee sit down and they talk about the areas of focus and then from that they write a development plan. They may get input from another area, for example HR, or it may be just between themselves. Or the manager may suggest to the employee that they come up with the development plan themselves and then review it together.

However once written, it’s vital there is always somebody driving this process. Ideally it should be the employee driving it but the employee must provide feedback to their manager to show that real progress is being made. Senior managers should also demonstrate interest by agreeing when they will review the plan – weekly or monthly – and discuss the progress that has been made. It cannot be left in a folder on your desktop as some aspirational document that just gets forgotten, that’s no good. Both sides must take responsibility for monitoring the document otherwise neither side gains from it, nor does the company.

Interview by Des Kirby

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Do I Need To Do a Management Development Programme

Do I need to do a management development programme__blog

“Do I need to do a management development programme?” It doesn’t sound like a particularly difficult question but for some managers admitting they are struggling in their role is tantamount to admitting failure, or that their admission will be perceived as a sign of weakness. In reality it is neither. Mike Gaffney explains why looking for help in the form of a management development programme is a clear sign of strength not weakness. Keeping it simple, what’s needed is an open and honest discussion between the manager and the boss.

Try to clearly state what the actual need is regarding your current situation. It could be as simple and as frustrating as:

Look I don’t feel confident in my management role. I used to work with these people 6 months ago. Now I’m their supervisor but they still see me as a colleague. I’m finding it hard to delegate and there’s one particular member of the group who won’t accept that I am now his manager. How can I sort this out?”

Very few senior managers or employers would respond negatively to such a request, because first of all the individual is showing huge commitment to the company but also to changing themselves in order to improve their performance. If you have somebody of that mind-set, they are valuable and you want to keep them and tap into more of their potential. They have had the courage to come to you and put their case to you. From the boss’s perspective, this is someone who wants to develop and contribute more so they should be willing to make that happen. The return on investment in getting managers performing to a high standard is very substantial.

do i need to do a management development programmeBy having that conversation with your boss, you invite open and honest discussion and get their perspective which helps to lock them into a commitment. It is not a sign of weakness to go to your boss and admit that you are struggling in the role and that you need help. On the contrary it is a sign of strength. When you make yourself vulnerable and challenge yourself you will often find the world responds by saying “fair play, you are giving it your best shot.” You might assume that people see it as weakness when really the world sees it as courageous. We don’t like being vulnerable because it’s an uncertain feeling and we don’t like uncertainty, but others often see it differently; they see it as a sign of strength.

With the economy improving we are finding more and more employers asking the question, “how do we retain our best people?” Well, one way is to provide them with all the support they need. So managers should ask for the support that will make a difference to you and your organisation.

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Interview with Des Kirby

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Congratulations to NUIG Managing People group

LEAP would like to say many congratulations to the NUIG staff who recently completed LEAP’s Management Development Programme. Upon completion of the programme participants received their Level 6 QQI Component Certificate in Managing People. We wish all of you continued success in your careers.

Pictured: NUIG staff with their QQI Level 6 Certificate in Managing People
Front Row: Nuala McGuinn, Tricia Cunningham (LEAP programme facilitator), Orla O’Donovan, Sylvia McDonagh
Back Row: Ronan Kennedy, Kevin Hynes

 

QQI level 6 component certificate in managing people

Every team member needs to ensure that they maximize their contribution to the company. Companies require a fully engaged team to deliver consistently high levels of performance. To support team members in raising their game LEAP’s programmes, built around core people performance areas, will enable individuals to increase their contribution by applying proven practical approaches with immediate impact on the organisation.

– LEAP

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An Evening With John Raftery

Event: An Evening with John Raftery, Senior Partner with LEAP
Speaker:
John Raftery Executive Coach
Location:
Sligo

Venue: Glass House Hotel
Date: Tuesday March 22
Time: 5.30pm
Cost: Free

 

“Would your business be better off if some of your employees didn’t show up for work?”

According to recent surveys there is a large proportion of employees disengaged from their work. I have heard it said so many times that things run better when he or she is absent or when someone leaves there was no need to replace them. What about your critical employees? If they won the lotto and called you on Monday morning saying that they quit, how would you cope?

In the normal distribution of employees performance you will invariably find about 20{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4} are top performers and unfortunately about 20{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4} are at the bottom. Everyone else is in the middle. How do you get more from your team when this is the reality for most managers?

Your team is your most valuable resource but it is also your biggest cost. Are you getting value for money?

The answer to these questions may lie in engaging with the Management Team Programme. This programme has been successfully delivered to several businesses over the last number of years. The programme has been very well received and in many instances has had a high impact on the performance of the business. The programme uses the futureSME methodology which focuses on developing a visual strategy for your business and implementing practical visual management tools while also developing the leadership and management capabilities within your business.

The “futureSME” business model was developed as part of a major cross-European project funded by the EU Framework 7 project and is accredited by the University of Strathclyde. The business model provides a strategic and operational framework, specifically developed for SMEs, to optimise organisational competitiveness and establish sustainable growth. LEAP is the licensed provider of “futureSME” in Ireland.

It has the power to transform your business.

The Speaker: John Raftery

leadership, leadership ireland, executive coachJohn Raftery will give an overview of the programme and draw on his experience of working with SME’s over the last ten years. John will give practical examples and discuss issues faced by senior managers and owners in a no-nonsense style. You will find his presentation thought provoking and challenging.

 

Contact Us
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Management Development and Economic Opportunity

Management Development and Economic Opportunity Image: GettyImages

Tricia Cunningham discusses management development, the crucial link between human resources and economic opportunity, and why it plays such a vital role in the long term success of organisations. 

Tricia, why is it critical for companies to invest in management development?
Now that the economy has started to turn in a positive direction, the skills that employees currently have may not be the skills that will allow them to help an organisation grow, and maximize business opportunities that are carved out through hard work. Over the last number of years the focus for many organisations have been doing what’s needed to get ahead one step at a time, but now that things are improving and opportunities are opening up, people and organisations will need to start thinking differently and incorporating new skills to maximize those opportunities.

What business supports should senior managers and business owners consider?
(1) First, organisations should start thinking about what requirements their organisation will need over the next eighteen months, and mapping out the skills needed to deliver on those requirements. From that they can start to consider and assess their employees against those requirements. They can then determine the best way to develop a new set of required skills. There are many different approaches to developing people from formal training programmes to giving employees the opportunity to work on new projects.

(2) Secondly, over the last number of years managers have been working in environments heavily focused on cost reduction with few resources available to them. So the focus has been on the technical deliverables; delivering to the specific requirements of customers and getting paid. Now that things are changing again, managers need to understand that how they manage a team and interact and guide a team is vitally important to the long term future of the business. People skills are critical to that future so it’s not sufficient to focus only on the technical aspects of the job.

(3) Thirdly, we have to recognise that if the economy continues to grow as it is with a current unemployment rate of 8.6{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4}, having dropped from a peak of over 14{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4}, it is becoming more of an employee market. If that rate continues the organisations that don’t invest in employees and help employees to develop their skills will lose those key employees. Generally speaking, employees who work in an organisation value opportunities to develop and enhance their skills. Investment in them and developing those skills can have considerable payback in terms of commitment, loyalty and a desire to do more, deliver more and assist the organisation to grow.

So owners and leaders need to consider development as an investment. Before any training begins, they must agree with the employee the skills to be developed and how the organisation expects the individual to demonstrate those skills back at work. In this way the leader can see that development is no longer a cost but a sound investment. By focusing on developing the skills of key individuals, organisations are better positioned to grow and retain key employees who have assisted them in the harder times and are also equipped to maximize the new opportunities.

Business Effectiveness

Understanding Management Best Practices
Managers need to be supported in developing the key skills to manage people effectively; learning from their experience isn’t sufficient. It’s about understanding management best practices and determining how they can be applied in the organisation so that organisations are developing strong competent teams that can work effectively together and with the manager; a team who respects the manager and learns from the manager.

Personal Growth and Career Ambition
When an individual works in an organisation there isn’t always the expectation that by participating in management development programmes they are going to climb the rungs of the ladder, but rather they are enhancing the skills they have. They are broadening their knowledge and broadening the opportunities they have to do different types of work. That is also development and this is often very satisfying for an employee. When you work in the SME sector you know there are few opportunities to climb the rungs because there are very few rungs on the ladder to begin with.

Management DevelopmentAnd if you work in a large organisation you need to be careful not to give the impression that development is all about climbing the ladder because when an opportunity presents itself, six people may go forward for that opportunity but only one person can secure the role. What happens to the other five candidates? How are they to be managed so they don’t become deflated and believe that there are no opportunities in the business? They need to understand there are opportunities to develop skills that are still very valuable and will ensure they remain employable and valuable to the organisation. They need to know they can continuously contribute to the organisation and that’s why investment in their development is important.

Shouldn’t organisations continuously develop staff whether the economy is good or bad?
Yes but when organisations have experienced the kind of recession that we had, one of the first things that gets cut is training and development for staff, because during a downturn development is too costly for a business. Now that many businesses are in a position where they can make some investment in their people again, they need to consider the supports available out there, like government funded supports to help them develop their team. These business supports ensure the cost isn’t borne fully by the organisation particularly for those that may not yet be in a position to do so. But if they can bear some of the cost, government agencies will step in and provide further funding and support.

Can you give an example of business supports that are available?
There is a strong organisation called Skillnets that are located around the country and their remit is to provide support for organisations seeking to develop their people. Skillnets will supplement part of the overall cost of the training and development in-company, but Skillnets will also provide open programmes for people at a reduced cost per employee. These two options for the organisation should facilitate them in developing their teams further.

Larger organisations like Enterprise Ireland have grants available as part of overall programmes that focus on efficiencies in organisations. As part of that there are various LEAN programmes and training and development falls within the remit and scope of those grants and business supports.

What management development supports do LEAP offer organisations?
LEAP recognises the need for strong leadership, effective management and engaged employees in organisations. From our 15 years’ experience of working with companies we have put together programmes that focus on developing the core skills of these three groups. Additionally we look at operational effectiveness to ensure that not only are the people working effectively, but that they are focusing on the right things and doing them right.

Tricia CunninghamHow is your organisation preparing for economic recovery? Let us know with a comment below.

Tricia Cunningham is co-founder and senior partner at LEAP

 

 

Interview by Des Kirby. Click the link below to learn more about our Management Development programmes for team leaders.

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Businesses Need To Stay In Shape To Qualify For Loans

Businesses Need To Stay in Shape To Qualify For Loans

Recently the Bank of Ireland approved €1.2Bn in new credit for SMEs in the first quarter of the year. But businesses need to stay in shape to qualify for loans in terms of structure and strategy, as well as being efficient in their daily operations. Business advisor John Raftery explains why focusing on the bigger picture is crucial for companies seeking funding to grow their companies.

John why is it important for businesses to be in good health all the time to access funds?
Many companies don’t think about getting themselves into the right shape until they want to access funds, or put themselves on the market to sell the business. I would argue that companies need be in the right shape all the time, right throughout their lifespan. By that I mean companies need a very clear set of performance metrics that drive the company’s performance. These KPIs need to be visible and shared with as many of the staff as possible, if not the entire workforce.

In order to get to that point quite a lot of work needs to be done to make sure you are measuring the right things i.e. your KPIs are the correct ones. This goes back to what I’ve learned from working with SMEs throughout Ireland; that information is assumed to be available but often the information is in people’s heads or it’s stored away on laptops or in spreadsheets. Various individuals have certain pieces of the information, but there isn’t one overall document or format containing all the information for everybody to follow.

A lack of focus on the big picture
A lot of companies are very busy with day to day operations delivering their products and services. This ‘busy’ environment results in a lack of focus on the big picture. I think innately companies know they need to address that issue. They are aware they need to be better organised and create more efficiencies and focus more on the bigger picture, and they need access to information more readily. It’s always in the back of their minds to do that but they never get around to doing it because day-to- day activities take over and a lot of firefighting takes place. One of the reasons so many companies end up firefighting problems is because they don’t take the time to stand back and look at the bigger picture, and get themselves organised and more focused.

What are the consequences for companies who don’t share information like KPIs?
The consequences are more and more inefficiencies, a lack of communication between people and tasks getting completed with the same issues and problems arising again and again. A lot of companies are solving the same problem repeatedly without ever taking the time to do some root cause analysis. Information is often misinterpreted; people assume that what they are doing is the right thing.

For example, I was working with a white goods company who had a team of engineers taking care of service repairs. But the information regarding each engineer’s call out performance was not relayed back to management. It turned out that the first-time repair rate of the engineers was very poor, somewhere between 55 – 60{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4}. The company owner never took the time to step back and examine that first time call-out rate because he was too busy firefighting problems within the business. As a result there were a lot of issues around this from customer complaints to rescheduling of visits, wasted time and problems with availability of materials. The company was very busy but unless they share information and step back to analyse and understand that information properly, and understand the issues that are causing the poor performance, they won’t be able to find the right solutions.

So companies can appear to be very busy but they‘re busy doing all the wrong things.
Yes, ‘busy fools’ is a term often used to describe companies in that situation. I always get uncomfortable when I see a company whose staff are doing a lot of firefighting. Now firefighting may be understandable sometimes when a business is going through a particularly busy period, or something dramatic has happened to the business. But firefighting should only be carried out for a short period of time. Then it should be back to normality, back to the organisation’s disciplined behaviours by everybody in the business. Unfortunately some companies are firefighting all the time. Some people even derive satisfaction from firefighting; they say a good firefighter always carries his own box of matches. There are people who think of themselves as heroes – MacGyver types – who like dramatic solutions, rescuing a situation and pulling it out of the fire.

Company Culture
It’s all to do with the culture of the organisation. You can walk into some businesses and everything is very calm because it’s very well organised. People know exactly what they are about and what they are required to do. If you ask them to report on their activities they can articulate exactly what their roles and responsibilities are, and tell you the performance of their department in relation to the overall performance of the business. You go into other companies and they tell you their tale of woe, how busy they are and all the hours they’re working, how they can’t take a holiday, the stress etc. But they are all over the place, there is no central core in the organisation to keep them focused and no disciplined approach that gets them to report back on a regular basis.

What solutions can you offer companies that are stuck in firefighting mode?
Well LEAP has a product called futureSME which is a business solution developed by researchers at the University of Stratclyde using European Union funding. It takes the best practice methodologies of the most successful large companies from around the world and applies them to small and medium enterprises. The futureSME method is the ideal tool to help businesses achieve clarity about their current performance and their vision for the company.

The methodology is divided into two sections

1. Visual Strategy
The first section looks at visual strategy which is about creating a vision for the company, and understanding what the company mission is in terms of its values and behaviours. It also examines the business model by performing a SWOT analysis to help business owners and senior managers create a clear strategy for the business going forward, and understand what their priorities are.

2. Visual Management
Once that company vision has been clarified you can move to the second step which is about visual management. This is where you set four or five goals for the company and those goals have to be succinct and clearly articulated and, most importantly of all, they must be measureable. Without measurement the staff and management teams won’t be able to gauge if progress is being made or not. You then need to create lines of action which prioritize various activities of the company. You assign owners to those activities and set timelines for completion of activities and outcomes. You also look at what type of results those activities will bring you in terms of efficiencies or cost savings. You will then be able to measure progress against your goals by using those lines of activities. Most importantly you will be able to use KPIs that will tell you if you are on track or not. Visual management will allow you to see where you are successful, but also tell you where you are falling behind and who is responsible.

Management Discipline
Once you have a clear set of KPIs they will drive performance of the company. But what you really need to underpin all of that is management discipline. The management team should meet on a regular basis, weekly or monthly, to review overall performance using the visual management tools. They should review the same things each month like their sales pipeline, their customer service performance, financial performance, operations and staff performance.

You have to have a very disciplined approach to it so that you are continuously monitoring your performance and progress in relation to your goals. If you want to approach a bank to raise cash then the bank can see very clearly how the company is performing. They can see what its direction is, what its goals are, what its strategy is. Rather than deciding that you need money and then creating more work for yourself by developing some business plan on-the-fly to get funding from the bank. That is not the most effective use of people’s time.

Are companies more likely to qualify for loans if they provide evidence of a visual strategy?
Well it’s not the only factor. They also take into account the market the business is in, that also has an influence. But if you require the money for investment because you believe you can improve your business performance, then you will need to be able to articulate what your strategy is, what your current performance is, what your goals are and what you are tracking to measure those goals. So it’s not the only factor but it’s a vital one to get right.

Why should business owners contact LEAP before trying to access funds?
We help businesses get into the right shape so they can access the funds they need to grow. LEAP is the sole licensed provider for delivering the futureSME business model to companies in Ireland. We have an excellent record of transforming businesses particularly in the SME sector. The tools we use were designed specifically for SMEs, and we have a very experienced business team who have worked with a wide variety of companies around the country.

 

Contact Us
Tel: 091 755736
E: info@leapleadership.ie

In interview with Des Kirby 

Management Training Yields Positive Results for Supermac’s

At Supermac’s we believe in developing our core team members as we know that they play a critical role in our success. We work hard at developing both their technical and soft skills. The LEAP Management Development Programmes have been very helpful in developing the people management skills of our newly appointed managers. The focus of the programmes is on the practical application of skills – it’s not simply about the theory.

Management training yields positive results for supermacs
Mike Gaffney MD at LEAP with Pat McDonagh MD at Supermac’s presenting the Management Development Programme certification to Saša Marjanović Operations Manager at Supermac’s.

Immediate Impact on Managers’ Performance

As an organisation that is expanding rapidly and working in a fast paced sector we need to make sure that any time spent away from the store is worthwhile. There must be an immediate and positive impact on the shop’s performance. The 6 sessions in the programme were designed around our needs and given the experience of the trainer we knew that exercises and case studies would focus on what it’s like working in Supermac’s.

QQI Certification

The response from our team members who participated on the programme has been very positive. There has been evidence of increased confidence and we’ve seen managers change their behaviours following training. We believe our managers are stronger and more effective as a result of the investment Supermac’s put into their development. Our participants not only attend the programme, they work hard at securing QQI certification which is important. This is a valuable tool for career progression. Our employees are proud of achieving certification and recognise that it demonstrates capability to their managers.

Management Training Workshops and ‘Positive Pressure’

I think participants find the QQI certification the most challenging aspect of the programme but that’s a good thing! It’s challenging because it gets participants to think about how they are applying learning. This means they must look at ways of using learning from each workshop and building new habits. Participants also share what they have applied with others at each workshop. Everybody has to explain what they’ve done since the previous workshop and this ‘positive pressure’ is good.

Continuous Support and Training  for Managers

We continue to provide the Management Development Programmes for our managers because Supermac’s believes in developing and investing in people. We know there are many who join the Supermac’s team who are keen to build a career and not simply have a job. This programme is an important step for a person working on their careers.

Saša Marjanović
Operations Manager, Supermac’s

If you would like to learn more about LEAP’s management training programme and other services, then get in touch with us. Our business advisors will be happy to discuss your training and development needs.

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Contact Us
Tel: 091 755736
E: info@leapleadership.ie