“Pressure Testing” your Business Processes

COVID-19 activated many Crisis Management plans within the industries with which my firm supports. As executives began to address, identify, and mitigate COVID-19 risks to their employees, facilities, and supply chains, many senior leaders either designed or activated their Crisis Management Strategies. Often these strategies led to daily meetings (sometimes several times a day), multiplying metrics, and more overall governance. No one would dispute that in a time of crisis, leaders need to have robust processes around communication, accountability, and performance.

However, shouldn’t an organization’s current Business Processes be robust enough to guide the organization through both times of stability, as well as times of volatility? While the “Content of Conversation” will certainly change, the overall architecture and structure of the processes should remain unaltered. Too often we see organizations abandon their current operating systems in times of market volatility, global disruption, and overall industry uncertainty for a model we call “Red Cape Driven, Heroic Leadership.” Yes, Leaders MUST Lead, but organizations must also be vigilant in ensuring their Crisis Management/Mitigation strategies aren’t creating a “Perpetuating Dependency” on the leaders to navigate the organization out of the crisis. Too often, the elements instituted in the Crisis Management Strategy default to being the daily operating rhythm. This “hyperactive” daily regimen ultimately creates organizational fatigue. Perhaps you are experiencing this today, with excessive Zoom calls, excessive data reporting, excessive virtual meetings – the fatigue is real and there is a longing to return to a rhythm that feels more predictive and stable.

The most successful organizations recognize their business processes must have the ability to be “Pressure Tested” not just in times of stability, but more importantly in times of volatility. To ensure this, I believe there are four Non-negotiable Processes that guide organizations in good times and bad, and if solidly built, these processes form a “Pressure Tested” Management System that will guide any organization from volatility to stability. While the “Content of Conversation” will certainly change, the systemic architecture should not. In essence, the organization should have “Thermostatic Processes” that enable active and timely organizational positioning. Reflect for a moment on your organization and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does a “Business Acumen Process” exist that allows every employee to know if the organization is winning or losing?
  2. Does a “Communication Process” exist that allows leaders to operate from a position of offense, not defense?
  3. Does an “Accountability Process” exist where engagement can be measured empirically, not anecdotally?
  4. Does a “Behavioral Process” exist where there has been agreement on the ideal behaviors required of both leader and team members to support a process-driven culture?

If these questions seem abstract, I would suggest your current operating system would not pass a “Pressure Test” and consequently, the organization is most likely operating in the crisis-driven mode of “Red Cape Heroics.”

As we look to the future, leaders need to take a critical look at their current operating systems. Is there organizational fatigue? Have the crisis management protocols morphed into a “hyperactive” daily regimen? Are leaders leaning too heavily into their “Red Capes” and circumventing team engagement?

To learn more about our four Non-negotiable Processes and how to “Pressure Test” your current system, please reach out. Our Process Based Leadership® Operating System coupled with our Visuant® Digital Management Systems creates a robust “Pressure Tested” methodology to guide your organization through times of both volatility and stability. To learn more, please reach out to syount@csipbl.com or info@csipbl.com

Roofs Reflection and Focus

As I write this, I am serenaded by the sounds of hammering, banging, and footsteps. We are getting a new roof and the noise made me think about how each of us has been spending our time during the pandemic and “safer at home” period. When we look back on this experience, what will we have done and what will we remember? In my own life, I’ve found that seasons of challenge and adversity are always opportunities to grow.

My hope is that we have made time to pause and reflect on our lives and leadership. This morning, as the workers began the task of removing the old shingles from our roof, it reminded me of the steps we must take to peel back the layers of old patterns of behavior that we find ourselves in. We need to identify those that we fell into versus a mindful choice on how we will respond, behave, and live, in order to make room for new growth and new healthy habits. If we haven’t done so already, today is a good day to reflect and peel back the layers.

  • Are my behaviors in line with my thoughts, beliefs, values, and how I want to be?
  • Am I making choices daily that contribute to me being the better version of myself?
  • What actions and behaviors do I want to keep as part of my foundation and what do I need to remove and replace?
  • What step can I take today to replace the old with an intentional and mindful choice of behavior and action?

For me personally, I’m working on patience and remembering to be kind. Amidst the clatter and noise of daily life, take advantage of a few minutes for yourself to reflect and refocus. You are worth it and it’s a gift that benefits everyone in our lives.

Tonda Tan SPHR/SHRM-SCP, Business Process Consultant/Coach at Competitive Solutions, Inc.

Working Remotely During Challenging Times

From stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and face masks at the grocery store, who would have thought just two (2) short months ago, our world would change so drastically!

One the biggest challenges I hear from friends and colleagues is how they can effectively work remote, stay engaged with their teams, while balancing the demands of the family. With so many balls in the air, it can be very distracting and challenging to focus on what is important to your business life.

Here are some things that I find beneficial for success:

Communication – While such a simple thing, communication is even more important in today’s new dynamic. Without that ‘face time’, the opportunities for your staff to proceed down an unproductive path, churn or disengage are high. The old adage ‘out of sight – out of mind’ comes to mind after hearing so many different stories recently.

To help overcome this, setup daily ‘checkpoints’ with your staff. While you do not want to become intrusive or perceived as ‘micro-managing’, checkpoints are a great way to connect. And these just don’t have to be business calls! Spending a few minutes to see how everyone is doing. This helps keep people motivated and engaged.

Accountability & Expectations – Based upon many different studies over the years, this was one of the biggest challenges, even before COVID-19. Employees want to understand what is expected of them and how their role connects to the larger picture of business success, but without clear expectations they often feel lost and disconnected.

Spend the time outlining clear expectations of the people working remotely. Whether it be clearly describing the task required or outlining the specific deliverable dates, let your staff know your expectations. Implementing a visible action register is one great way to accomplish this.

Metrics – With many of us working remotely, leaders today struggle on how to maintain the focus on what is most important. This is especially true with leaders that attempt to ‘measure everything’ or use Excel spreadsheets that lose data integrity because they get emailed around.

Narrow the focus of the metrics you measure to those that truly matter and move the business forward. Implement a meeting process that reviews your scorecards on a more regular basis. The goal here is provide the information in a timely matter that helps your business react and adjust to these unprecedented changing market demands.

Remember, in many cases your staff can no longer walk down the hall to ask the questions. They are expecting you to provide an environment where they can feel and be successful!

Paul Campbell, Senior Vice President, Competitive Solutions, Inc

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