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Improving Business Performance: 5 Behaviors You MUST Avoid!

By Bob Prosen    


If we’re not careful, we can become our company’s biggest enemy.

When business is booming it’s easy to get comfortable and rest on our laurels with the status quo.

After all, why not?  The status quo is (or was) working wonders.

But if we’re not careful, complacency sneaks in, and before we know it we’re knee deep in crippling habits that wreak havoc from within.

We all have excuses for not changing and you’d better believe companies are full of them! Do any of the following phrases sound familiar?No Excuses Sign

“We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work.”
“I didn’t make my numbers because . . .”
“Here are all the things that could go wrong.”
“I didn’t know you needed that.”
“I can’t get everything done.”
“It’s not my job. It wasn’t my fault.”
“I wish management would stop changing their minds.”

Excuses signal deeply embedded systemic problems within an organization’s culture. And while you can’t predict or avoid certain hostile economic events, many companies suffer from the same five crippling habits that inhibit change, progress and growth.

Is your small business one of those companies?

There is never going to be a “one-size-fits-all” model for business success. However, strong leadership can overcome each of these crippling habits and keep your company on track with improved business performance and profit.

Crippling Habit #1: Absence of Clear Directives

If you’re hearing (or saying) any of the following, then your company suffers from an absence of clear directives:

  • “I can’t get anything done”
  • “Everything is a priority”
  • “I wish management would quit changing their minds”
  • “I didn’t know I was supposed to do that”Keyboard With "Goal" Highlighted

As a leader, you need to make sure everyone who reports to you understands and stays focused on achieving the company’s most important objectives — those things that matter most and must get done.

At General Mills, the goal is to replace good with great. And one method used to accomplish this is to have ALL employees create “Individual Development Plans.”

So what about your business?

If your company’s objectives are not being met, do you know why? Listen and observe to determine what’s keeping people from doing what’s important, and then ask:

  • Have you set goals that are specific and measurable?
  • Can everyone in your company articulate their goals?
  • Do they understand how their jobs directly support these goals?

It’s easy to discover the answers to these important questions. When I work with companies on improving business performance and profitability, one of the first things I do is walk around and ask people at all levels about the company’s goals.

If they can articulate the company’s top objectives, pull them up on a computer, or reference a sign in their office or a break room, and then follow up it up by describing how their work fits into those objectives, I know my job is going to be much easier.

Business leaders need to understand the positive impact clarity and focus have on business success.  In running your business, nothing can be vague, optional or left to chance.

Unfortunately, many employees don’t know their employer’s top objectives and they struggle to directly connect their work to desired outcomes.

If you’re concerned, simply listen and observe. Are heads down and focused? Are people having action and goal-oriented conversations, or are they surfing the Internet, rationalizing problems and reliving their weekends?

To turn things around and refocus your employees, put the objectives front and center — on meeting agendas, in ongoing written and verbal communications, and in marketing collateral.

Make your company’s objectives come to life in everything the company does.

Improving business performance starts with clear objectives.  Taking that first step will poise your small business for profitability and success!

Stay tuned!  Next time we’ll tackle the second business behavior to avoid: Crippling Habit #2 – Lack of Accountability!


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