Efficiency vs. Productivity
Many business owners and technical consultants will use efficiency and productivity interchangeably. But I look at them as two very different things with two very different approaches.
Efficiency is doing the same with less or cutting back on resources without impacting the bottom line. Productivity is doing more with the same resources, thereby increasing the bottom line without increasing resources.
Say we owned a trucking company with a fleet of 100 trucks. After some deep analysis, we find out that the way each truck is loaded it is only at 85% capacity. By teaching the crew how to pack the trucks more efficiently, they are now 90% full, reducing the fleet by an entire truck. But now there is an empty truck. So, we reorganize the sales department increasing their productivity and find new clients to fill the 10th truck.
This is what I mean by a high-performance workforce. Work smarter AND do MORE.
Improving your Workforce
As a technical consultant, I work with two things in mind when improving a workforce. The tools and the people that use them. Many technical consultants only look at the tools and business consultants tend to focus on the people. But I focus on both.
So, I ask you…do you have the latest and greatest tools that are going to save time and energy by increasing efficiencies? Do they have features that allow you to do more with less to increase production? Do you have people in place that can maximize the benefits of these tools? And, if they do not have the skillsets yet, do they have the capacity and attitudes to learn and master? Do you have the expertise to train them? Do you want to get more out of your workforce?
Over 20+ years I have recruited, interviewed, hired and trained hundreds of people from part time receptionists to Chief Operation Officers (COO’s). Over the years, I have assembled some of the most diversified and talented teams and created environments for them to succeed.
Having a high performing workforce at the helm of your company creates a level of consistency required to be great. It also creates a sense of pride and community for the employees that make up your workforce. Some will say “We are like Family”.
Your people are the only thing your competition cannot copy. They can copy your products, they can copy your marketing plan and they can try and poach your customers. But no matter what do they cannot copy your workforce which is why keeping your employees long-term and limiting turn over is the key to longevity and dominating the market.
In every organization I have been involved in, the workforce I have built and managed has always had extremely low turnover rates with many of the team members still working together this day. I know the Florida labor pool can be tough and small businesses have a hard time competing with salary and benefits but, there are many other things that small business can offer. that bigger companies can’t. These can be a game changer when trying to recruit top talent.
After assessing your company, I will be able to identify talent surplus and deficiencies and not only recommend improvements but help you fill them with the perfect people. I specialize in building high powered high-performing employees.
Set them up to succeed
The Harvard Business Review stated that both the best and the worst companies have the same mixture of good and bad employees. It is just that the great businesses know how to get the most out of them. Employee satisfaction is the number one motivator while money is just part of the equation. Studies have shown that inspired employees can product 125% more output than just satisfied employees.
“Discretionary energy” is an interesting term that is the key to tapping into your workforce. Every employee has the means to do more, and great companies tap into that discretionary energy and get out of their employees’ way, enabling them to excel.
Many businesses put policies and procedures in place that are focused on preventing the negative, which many times inhibit the positive more than anything else. Changing the mindset to be more about creating a positive effort is the beginning to building a proactive culture.
So many times, I have clients point out their super star and say “she is awesome, no matter what goes wrong, she is always willing to go the extra mile and fix it! I don’t know what I would do without her”. My first thought when I hear this is…why didn’t she go the extra mile and prevent it from happening to begin with? It is usually because of the “this is how we always have done it” mentality. Small business staff are usually so bogged down in the day to day they become reactive. There is no innovation or motivation to try new things and a lack of inspiration and time to invoke change.
I will show you and your management team how to empower your staff to be great. I will identify areas of your culture that maybe inhibiting your employees to flourish. To really get everything out of your teams they need to be managed properly.
If it isn’t broke
Working as a consultant, I get to see the inside of many businesses. One thing is for sure, resisting change is a hurdle in any organization and many small businesses take it to a whole new level. But my number one mantra about change is “You need to embrace change. Without change you cannot improve”.
I was responsible for multi-million-dollar payrolls that were under the cost reduction microscope of 2006-2008. Perfecting doing more with less was not a necessity, but required for survival.
I had over 50 families relying on me. I would love to say there were no casualties, but there were. I had to make some really hard decisions and to this day some of them haunt me and motivate me to be better.
During those years, I used the phrase “lean and mean” because that is exactly what we had to do. I would lay awake almost every night wondering how I could save headcount and avoid having to make another cut. I had to make my team more efficient and increase productivity. I had to tap into everyone’s discretionary energy at a time when morale was low.
Early in my career at Acterna, I worked for a guy name Richard Kofler. His German accent was as thick as his beard, and not only was he an inspirational leader but extremely frugal. He loved American euphemisms and would tell us all the time (pretty much every time he handed back a purchase order he denied), “Anybody can build a super-duper thingy with a million dollars. It takes a great somebody to build super-duper thingy for no money. Are you a just anybody or are you somebody?” At the time, I didn’t get it but he was my boss, so off I went looking to build my super-duper thingy for no money.
We came up with some crazy ideas, many of which we never did, but the process we went through always found the way. He gave us the freedom to turn over every stone until we exhausted every idea we had. He allowed us to think past how things were normally done and invent new ways to do things. He empowered us to be better in a way that made us feel good. At times, I felt like we were in a movie montage where the crazy computer students had to save the world with duct tape and bubble gum. The funny thing was…we did.
The result went from a whole new server buildout with months of testing and deployment schedules and a mid-six figure cost, to repurposing current assets and shipping existing servers in 45 days, at a nominal cost. We saved thousands and completed the project before the proposed start time of the original plan. When it was over, I was a changed person and as a technical consultant, I use what I learned during this project almost every day.
Letting Go. Let them Fly
So, when 2006 came, and I was with another company, I had to figure out how to deliver more product with less. I did it by improving the tools and inspiring my team, the same way Richard Kofler inspired me. I had to let go of some steadfast policies that I once fought tooth and nail to keep, and told my team the only rule we had was there were no rules. Any idea was a good one, until we figured out something better. I also had to let go of any preconceived notions I had about my team. I had a habit of putting limitations on them to protect them from a volatile corporate culture. If we were going to do this, I needed to get out of their way. I needed to let them free. Our culture went from “this is how it is” to “anything is possible”.
This eventually resulted in some of the best product development I have ever been part of. We were able to take an old clunky client server solution that was vendor locked, with very expensive handheld hardware and build a thin client that was hardware agnostic, faster and easier to deploy and maintain. This solution is still on the market today 5 years after I left the company, and according to their website is now their flagship product.
What does this all mean for you?
Today, there are cloud solutions that have taken the very same approach and now provide tools that allow your staff to work smarter and do more. From co-authoring documents in real time, to removing the need for traditional backups and antivirus. These tools are available to the small business for as little as $12 month. Your employees’ lives will become easier, and in return they will be more willing to tap into their discretionary energy and do more with less.
I can assess the talent levels of your workforce and recommend adjustments. I can help replace employees that might not be the best fit and train your staff so they can reach their full potential.