Posted on 27/05/2021 by Nick Boulton
I don’t know about you, but I’m sensing business is picking up. Trains are busier, there are queues in coffee shops again, and there’s a cautious sense that we might have turned the corner (touch wood).
This means the much-trumpeted hybrid-work model is now in effect. Welcome to the new normal!
And with office life picking up, talk of productivity has also picked up – and it feels like some directors want to make up for the lost time.
I read an article on LinkedIn recently, essentially saying you should squeeze every last drop out of everything including people, all in the name of efficiency. It was an interesting read, but not one I agree with. The sentiment is right and the driving forces behind it are good, but the approach?
Not so much, if you ask me.
I’m all for pushing systems, technology, teams, and individuals to make them more efficient. But in my experience, “squeezing the life out of them” rarely works.
The last 12+ months have made all business owners look at their companies and how they can cut costs, save outgoings and get the most out of every department, all while trying to drive sales, growth (or at least avoid shrinkage). They’re still planning for the future, but with the added pressure of being responsible for so many people’s livelihoods. It’s been tough and it’s been a time for reassessing what your outlook in life and business is, taking an introspective look at what’s important.
I’ve had endless conversations with people on this topic, other business owners, managers and CEO’s all at their wit’s end after making it through lockdown, only to be met by an unmotivated, unenthused workforce.
So, what is the right approach to fix this?
I’ve always been a glass-half-full type of guy, in fact, my cup doth-runneth over with a more positive outlook than most. I ask myself, “Why wouldn’t you approach life in a positive frame of mind?” We are all on the same journey, some with better starting points than others, but ultimately all with an opportunity to make the most out of life and better our current situation. That doesn’t need to be with money, it can be with whatever you choose, but for God’s sake, commit to what you choose!
If you don’t stick to a diet, you don’t lose weight. If you can’t stick to a fitness regime, you’re not going to get any fitter. Well, surprise, surprise, work is the same. Unless you commit, work hard, and give it everything, yup you guessed it, you’ll fail in spectacular fashion.
I’m not quite sure what else people would expect? In my opinion, a lot of this is down to upbringing and the values that are instilled in you at a young age. Don’t even get me started on this…
But it doesn’t have to be like that. You can be the master of your own destiny. We are lucky enough to live in a first-world country and realistically, the vast majority of our problems are self-made or through our own laziness or lack of drive.
Right now, there are just over 129,000 jobs available on Indeed (other jobs boards are available) within the M25, and many of them for people who have little or no qualification(s) – attitude, hard work and a desire to succeed are top of most of the requirements.
Sadly, most people just don’t like what that looks like once they start a job and are more concerned about what the latest flexible benefits are. Last time I checked, not one of the top performers I have worked with or met worry about what benefits their company offers. They are too busy working at being successful and creating their own benefits.
Fortunately, at Client Server, we are surrounded by employees who are striving to be successful, people who are at the top of their field and only getting better. No matter what has been thrown at them over the last 12 months, they have put in a serious shift and are now starting to see the rewards. I’m extremely proud of how well they have performed in probably one of the toughest markets.
So, let’s go back and answer the original question: “How do you squeeze the life out of it?”
It’s a pretty simple formula, but one that a lot of businesses and individuals get wrong. Here are five ways I think it can be done:
Provide a positive environment where people can succeed
I’m not talking about making sure you have enough bean bags, break-out space, flexible hours/time/days, or enough almond milk (you’re welcome). I mean an environment where hard-working people can succeed at their job, do they have the opportunity, uninhibited but supported by peers and management to be the best version of their work self.
Strong communication lines
Both up and down the business, employees need to be heard and management needs to listen. But at the end of the day, there is a job to do, and your results are the ONLY measurement of success. Nothing else matters. There’s no surprise a thriving and successful business is a collaborative communicative business.
Provide the best tools and systems your business can afford
Especially hard in recessions, pandemics, or world wars...but it will save you money and make you and your business more successful in the long run, there are no shortcuts.
Providing continuous training and learning opportunities, not necessarily from external sources, but constant on-the-job sessions are vital. You need to proactively improve your employees, so they want to improve themselves. If you’re not investing in their careers, growth and learning at every opportunity, how can you expect them to do it off their own backs? This is something that has been massively affected in lockdown, those coffee chats, lunch break catch-ups, informal corridor meetings or on desk interactive sessions, where knowledge sharing is happening all the time, have been lost. It’s really important to try and recreate these wherever possible.
Now I’m going to make some people wince and others hate me at this point. But in my opinion “efficiency’ is a buzzword, flung around by management consultants trying to sell their services.
Yes, we all know better efficiency creates a more cost-effective workforce – That’s the same in every part of our lives, if we were more efficient we’d get more done. It really isn’t rocket science and doesn’t need an external consultant at X thousands of pounds an hour to tell you this. Hire the best people (better than you), give them the best tools (that your business can afford), provide incentives to succeed (whatever suits your industry), and lead (not manage) them to success.
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