In business we see many terms used to describe methods for change. “Best Practices”, course of action Improvement”, “Benchmarking” and others. For many people these are nothing more than buzz words that can make a business or meeting sound dynamic. Talking about course of action improvement is easy but real world solutions can often be elusive. How, then, can these ideas become more than corporate sound bites? The answer is simple although simple is not always easy.
Tradition can be important, already motivating, but it is important to recognize the difference between tradition and stagnation. “That’s the way we have always done it.”, is the biggest block to optimization. Improvements will never occur if you just continue the position quo.
Are you managing your employees to a job description or managing the job descriptions to your employees. Manage to the strengths of your employees instead of trying to fix them. Talent is the single most important characterize in an exemplary employee. For example, at a wholesale mortgage lender I was responsible for managing a group of Account Managers (AMs). One of the roles of the AM was to lock rates. People who excelled as an account manager tended to be more people oriented and less analytical and we had a problem with rate lock errors. To combat this problem I produced the role of a lock desk and filled it with my most analytical person, who had been struggling as an AM. This not only allowed the AMs to focus more on the other roles and better serve their customers but it reduced our errors by over 65%.
Statements like “This is the way to do…” or “Here is how we do…” can pave the way for already the most talented person to fail. Look at the batting stance of Kevin Youkilis, knees together, hands apart over his head, holding the bat like a samurai warrior or Jeff Bagwell (c.297) with a stance so wide you can almost excursion a truck by or Pete Rose(c.303), crouched so low he looks like an alpine skier headed for the finish line. however all three are within 8 points (+-) of a career.300 batting average,.292,.297 and.303 respectively. Could Rose have batted.303 if his coach told him he had to stand like Youk or would Youk be successful with a stance like Bags? Probably not. Every person has or derives their “way” of doing the task at hand. In most situations there is your way and my way, his way and her way, when you try to define the “right way” you can kill productivity.