Last December we launched a monthly blog series, committed to profiling exceptional business leaders who purposefully invest in both operations and culture to reach a more utopic business environment. The idea for the series was born from the powerful conversations we were already having with many of our clients and partners about how businesses struggle to build great processes and implement best-in-class systems, while also working on things like culture, employee morale and customer satisfaction. Too often, one focus area always seems to trump the other when, in reality, operations and culture need to be fundamentally connected.
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In launching the series, and having the opportunity to talk to great business leaders, a number of concepts have risen to the surface. Below, I’d like to share three profound takeaways from our first three profile pieces…
Are We Putting Our People First?
Perhaps not all that surprising, our conversations have centered upon business leaders needing to intentionally focus on the “people” side of the people-process-technology equation. As Darlene Morris, Senior Director, Development & Grants, of the Rhode Island Quality of Institute put it:
“In terms of the role of people, process and technology, you certainly need all three but I think you know my answer as to which comes first—hire capable people and take care of them, respect them and listen to them. Then, make good use of the magic of technology and continually seek to improve and refine processes to maximize efficiency and make work less like work.”
But market research and a slew of articles suggest that though our intentions are to invest in our people, we may not be doing enough. Specifically, the 2017 Gallup State of the American Workplace report found that 51% of American employees are not engaged and haven’t been for some time (click here for more). What’s more, the rate at which employees are changing jobs suggests we have a ways to go when it comes to retaining top talent.
As business leaders, we know we need to put our people first. That could mean investing in the right technologies that empower our employees to do their jobs better; addressing broken workflows that create frustrating, redundant, manual work; or creating applications that bring necessary information to the fingertips of our employees. But we likely need to do more. A good place to start is to have a conversation with your frontline employees over the next few weeks. Learn about the processes and technologies impacting their day-to-day and start discussing and co-creating an improvement plan you can put into action.
Change Starts with Belief
At Trilix, we talk a lot about the importance of welcoming change, particularly if you lead a business or department; our CEO/Founder Tim Hebert has a great blog on this topic (click here). Those profiled agree that to successfully usher change within your organization—be it replacing legacy technologies, targeting user adoption woes, etc.—the belief has to begin at the top. Bill Wray, Chief Risk Officer at The Washington Trust Company, offers a core tip for those hoping to push towards a heightened level of excellence:
“Does your leadership team all genuinely believe that you must improve to survive? Without that level of commitment, at best you can only achieve minor tactical gains. Don’t waste everyone’s time preaching about changes that no one really believes are necessary.”
Here at Trilix we agree, and encourage our clients to understand that change needs to be something desired within all levels of the business—from the frontline employees experiencing the pain associated with a broken workflow to the C-suite executives concerned with the impact the workflow has on morale and culture. In addition, the reasons for spearheading the change need to be pure. In other words, if the only reason you are introducing change is to cut costs, you may inadvertently harm your culture—introducing technology that does not actually improve the lives of your employees.
When your impetus for change touches both sides of the house—operations and culture—true transformation and excellence is possible.
The Biggest Contributor of Waste? Complacency
In the IT and operations world, “waste” is a concept very much discussed. These business leaders are responsible for identifying the types of waste that can plague an organization from redundancies to bottlenecks to error. When we sat down with Tom Pesaturo, principal of Exceeda Consulting, he identified the biggest contributor to organizational waste: complacency.
“It is difficult to pick the No. 1 waste but, what I know as the No. 1 contributor to waste is ‘it’s the way we have always done it’ syndrome… Businesses need to view processes through a new lens, and question why things are done the way they are done.”
With the complacency mindset abandoned, business leaders are free to dream of what can be—of the improvements that can be made within their departments to move towards sizeable goals. They begin to picture the workplace of tomorrow, one with happier employees, smoother processes, effective technologies and strong culture.
One exercise we encourage clients to go through is the following: think of the personal, professional and strategic gains you stand to realize in tackling a major, nagging issue. Try it! You may be surprised by your answers!
We are always looking for leaders to profile for our workplace excellence blog series! To nominate someone, click here.
Check out all the interviews in this series so far:
- Exceeda Consulting: Tom Pesaturo
- Rhode Island Quality Institute: Darlene Morris
- The Washington Trust Company: Bill Wray