Do your processes need to be improved? Here are seven time-tested signs:
The blame game. When something goes wrong, does it result in fingerpointing? If you have warring departments, you will never have a productive team. In one case, bickering between engineering and marketing departments brought about the closing of what had been a profitable division.
- Customer Satisfaction:
Are Tech Support and Customer Service drowning in calls? If your customers are complaining, they are NOT recommending you. Shipments that don’t match the order, products that don’t perform as expected, and instructions that can’t be followed won‘t build your business.
Are things “falling through the cracks”? At a mortgage company, the mail clerk emptied the inter-office envelopes and tossed them up on the shelf. Months after a six-figure cashier’s check went missing, another employee accidentally found the missing check in one of those envelopes.
Training for new employees is too long. Weeks, or even months after the initial training, the not-so-new employee is still asking others how to do something. A new division of a large company used temporary employees as receptionists and file clerks. Most of the time, they lasted only a few days. As time went on, the file drawers got so messy that they could not be closed. Important papers were torn apart trying to retrieve them from the files. One 4-drawer files fell forward, injuring an employee. Seem impossible? It happened.
Costs are too high. Does it seem as if you can’t compete? Are you thinking about off-shoring your operation? Will you find new employees who can immediately understand your mission, your objectives, and perform as you want? Labor is rarely the reason a company cannot be competitive. Waste is the issue – wasted time, wasted motion. In one company, a committed effort to reduce waste reduced the time to build their product from six weeks to 18 hours.
- High Turnover:
Losing employees? Issues between managers and employees? It’s unlikely that anyone who works for you wakes up in the morning and says: “I think I will perform poorly today.” The issue is more likely that they don’t really know what is expected of them. Many years ago, I received a poor evaluation for appearance from a manager who was very stylish. She didn’t think I wore enough makeup. Most often expectations are not that trivial, but they might not be known.
Is it a nightmare for you to account for your inventory? Do you spend an unreasonable amount of time trying to reconcile records? In one small manufacturer’s operation, there was a single shipping/receiving clerk. When a shipment came in, he had to go to the front office to get the paperwork. Because the trucker was on the clock and the clerk knew the paperwork could take a long time, he would sign and let the trucker go. As soon as the clerk left the area to get the paperwork, the teams with work waiting for parts would “loot” the incoming shipment. Much of the inventory never made it into the records.
Spell out expectations clearly, concisely, and completely and reap the benefits with your standards and procedures. Now is definitely the time to reduce costs and increase profits. It’s time to build for success.