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Continued from Previous……
After having looked at the appearance, symptoms of the tired organizations, and the reasons why these are so, we now come to the cures.
Turning around a tired organization will take serious, concerted, and consistent effort, but it is quite possible and viable. In many ways, it is still better than establishing a new enterprise. The enterprise is already there, revenue stream is there, the enterprise in earning some profit, functions are clarified, staff is available, though may be of variable qualifications, place of work, record, bank accounts, and so much more is already there which an enterprise needs.
Primary Requirements for Turning a Tired Organization into a Thriving One
Decision – to change is the first primary requirement. Collective decision is the best form and must be strived for. Keeping differences and conflicts at bay, the stakeholders should sit together, discuss as unemotionally as possible, and arrive at a consensus decision to turn around the enterprise. Decision taken in good spirit shall go a long way in sustaining the change process.
Plan – the desire and decision must be translated into a plan. A detailed plan is to be devised with outcomes, milestones, and timelines. After implementing the plan, it should be reviewed at agreed timelines and adjustments and corrections made. Achievements must be celebrated, and non-achievements be analyzed to understand the reasons for failure.
Identification and Allocation of Resources – resources shall be required to turn around the enterprise. These may be related to additional/better human resource, technology, equipment, and services. There may be several approaches to allocation of resources. The enterprise may mobilize reserve funds if these are there, or they can dispose-off some assets which might have been lying idle, such as a piece of land, or they can take loan or running finance facility from bank. If these options are not available or desirable, the enterprise can start allocating a fixed part of its incoming revenue for the change process. This may take a longer route, but it will also avoid the financial liabilities such as bank loans.
Formation of Management Team – an overseeing team comprising of enterprise owners, and few senior managers/function heads should be formed to lead the process, review it periodically, and sustain it. One person leading the entire process is neither desirable nor practical. Jack Welch who is credited with turning around General Electric, did not work in isolation; he worked with an army of teams and an array of consultants.
Having done with the primary requirements, the process may be started in earnest. I would emphasize that the basics should be met before moving forward. As a nation, we either start with a half-cooked plan and then try to think on the go, or we run first and plan later. Both ways are counterintuitive and counterproductive. Well begun is half done, is always true.
We now come to the enterprise staff and see how change process should be rolled out for them, and how they should be tied in.
Clarify Goals and Objectives
It is of critical importance to clarify goals and objectives for all levels of staff. I would recommend that first the enterprise level goals should be shared, and then function level/department level goals should be derived and evolved. I would also recommend that the function heads/department heads be encouraged to propose their own goals based on the enterprise goals. It will increase ownership and commitment.
The idea of forcing predetermined objectives on the staff is a poor alternative, though favored by some enterprise owners. They believe that people should follow orders without asking why. This line of thinking may be contested on several grounds. Change is a scary process for most people, but when they are made part of the goal setting process, they get involved and feel secure. All decisions are implemented by staff and if they do not get mentally and emotionally involved, the implementation shall neither be smooth nor of good quality.
Provide Clear Communication
I have seen a big problem with communication in organizations during all my working life. Firstly, complete communication is rare; mostly it is piecemealed which does not make much sense. Secondly, keeping everything secret and close to chest is not a good approach. Much of what happens in the organization is already public information and there is no point in hiding it. Thirdly, office grapevine is a powerful medium and most secrets get out from there. Fourthly, holding information causes rumor mongering and wrong guesses.
All management layers are advised to ensure that official communications are complete, precise, clear, and simple to understand. Clarity of communication reduces the gap between management and staff, promotes ownership, and improves performance.
Improve Staff Quality
Jim Collins said, ‘Get the right people on the bus, and get the wrong people off the bus’. Both are equally important. Even in organizations with elaborate hiring steps and processes, some managers prevail and influence to hire people who do not come up to merit. Similarly, some people who have been proven to be unsuitable, keep working for long without any valid reason.
Staff quality is the key to success of the organization, though this fact is ignored by many. Right people in the right places achieve more, waste less, and inspire others to do better.
In every enterprise, some people lead, some follow, and some ‘disruptors’ try to throw spanners to slow down the movement. Leaders and followers are definitely required, but disruptors should be identified and thrown out.
Staff improvement is not a one-step process, it is a multistep, continuous work which should be carried out as an integral activity of the organizations.
The concept of having loyal, longstanding employees has become redundant; employee suitability is the current thing. Existing employees should be encouraged and facilitated to learn new, required skills, but if they don’t, they may be replaced. Secondly, where new skills are required immediately, such as while adopting new technology, new people/teams with relevant skills should be brought in, rather than waiting for old employees to learn.
Improve Processes and Procedures
Efficiency is defined as work done with minimum resources in minimum time. We may replace ‘minimum’ with ‘optimum’. Optimization is the process of designing processes to work with optimum resources, including time. Optimization is done in technology as a rule. For example, new car engines are much more efficient than the old ones. They give better mileage per liter of fuel and cause less emission. Branded computers are more efficient than unbranded ones, though they may carry higher specs.
Efficiency is possible only with the optimization of processes. When we review the running processes in organizations, we invariably come across wastages, removing which will increase the efficiency. Process optimization in the context of organizations is about the consumption of resources of time, materials, and technology. Time is the greatest and the least renewable resource and it is wasted with the greatest impunity. The focus of optimization should start from better time management, and then move on to other factors. Another important benefit of process improvement is that it reduces the likelihood of manipulation and misuse. Processes and procedures should be redone, written down clearly, shared with all concerned, and followed for implementation.
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