Business Acid Test: How Could You Improve Business Performance?

What could you do to improve business performance in these very demanding times? An important first step in your business strategy is to identify the primary people related issues that are having a negative impact on your company’s health and growth. We often become so consumed by the day-to-day running of our business that we fail to recognise the number of people related issues that gradually manifest themselves and combine over time to impair our business growth potential. This provides the primary focus for the business acid test.

It’s the People that Make or Break a Company’s Success

People are at the heart of every successful company, however people are also at the heart of every failing one. Getting the right people in the right roles and then treating the right people right must be a key element of any enduring business strategy intended to improve business performance. This business acid test helps you identify where the most detrimental people issues may lie in your business so that you can start to consider the key areas to address as you gradually raise the bar.

This business acid test looks at the top 20 “people related” business growth killers that tend to defy a company’s efforts to improve business performance and it applies as much to large corporates as it does to small to medium enterprise (SME). Engaging an experienced business coach can bring a valuable external view with fresh ideas to catalyse your business strategy.

Business Acid Test – Relevance and a Health Warning

This business acid test sets out to highlight those people related business growth killers that are not sales specific. A separate article will focus on sales specific growth killers. These two areas are obviously closely related with many interdependencies and it may be beneficial to consider them collectively. Some of the people issues described here will have a direct impact on business sales and vice versa.

There is a health warning with this business acid test in that any changes it may inspire you to make are best carried out as a business evolution, rather than a business revolution. In other words, beware of trying to address too much too soon or you may end up with a revolting workforce (pun intended). It is advised that you consider engaging a good business coach with relevant business experience to assist you in determining what to tackle (business importance), when to tackle it (business urgency), and how to tackle it (best approach).

People Are at the Heart of the Problem and the Solution

Some people will be more receptive to change and have the potential to modify their attitudes and behaviours, learn new skills or adopt new approaches. These people are likely to be worth investing in as you seek to evolve your business strategy. However, there will always be others that will stubbornly resist change if they feel it may threaten their personal position and it may well be in the interests of the company as a whole if they were to pursue their careers elsewhere. It’s important to focus on what is best for the business, rather than on any individuals self-interest.

And Now to the Business Acid Test Itself

This is a summary of the top 20 people related business growth killers I have come across in recent years. Any one of these will impact a company’s overall business potential and many companies suffer a combination that tends to exacerbate the negative impact, causing the business growth for some to slow down, stand still or even recede. It’s all too easy to hope such things will simply go away and many business leaders may want to avoid any potential confrontation that might arise if they tried to directly address such issues. That’s where the support of an experienced external business coach can be a valuable boost to implementing your business strategy.

Top 20 “People Related” Business Growth Killers (excluding specific sales related aspects)

First 10 – Effecting Some Staff and / or Management: (in no specific order)

  1. Operating too much within their habitual comfort zones.
  2. Requiring too much supervision for fairly standard tasks.
  3. Not learning from events and often repeating mistakes.
  4. More time spent fire-fighting than progressing business goals.
  5. Working hard with low output rather than smart with high output.
  6. Sapping management time by being too high maintenance.
  7. Being a negative or de-motivating influence on colleagues.
  8. Making political silos more important than the business itself.
  9. Showing a lack of ownership and responsibility in their role.
  10. Taking more from the business than they actually contribute.

Last Ten – More Specific to Management: (in no specific order)

  1. A management team that is failing to gel and work well together.
  2. Management rowing but not all in the same cohesive direction.
  3. Disappointing or flat-lining business growth in recent years.
  4. More time spent “working in” than “working on” the business.
  5. A business vision or strategy too open to individual interpretation.
  6. A business strategy that delivers insufficient traction or growth.
  7. A reactive business strategy that tends to change with the wind.
  8. Losing sight of what the business is about and their role in it.
  9. Avoiding confrontation thus allowing some to take advantage.
  10. A belief that doing what got you here will get you to the next level.

Relating the Business Acid Test to Your Company

Your company may suffer a combination of these issues that will serve to weaken any strategy you might implement to improve business performance. No company is or ever will be perfect and in reality most of these people issues will apply in some degree or other to every business. Therefore it’s important to focus on those proving most detrimental to the viable health and growth of your specific business rather than shooting for perfection (an unattainable and costly pursuit).

You may benefit significantly from taking a pragmatic look to understand how many of these issues apply to your business and don’t despair if its more than one. At least you will have started the process of business evolution by identifying these as key change focus areas. If we first identify and then look to address the most important and urgent and aim to do this over a period of months rather than weeks or days, we will have a far greater chance of success. Engaging an experienced external business coach may be critical if you are serious about evolving your business strategy for growth.

What could you do to improve business performance in these very demanding times? An important first step in your business strategy is to identify the primary people related issues that are having a negative impact on your company’s health and growth. We often become so consumed by the day-to-day running of our business that we…