How We’re Rethinking Business Through Our Business Improvement Framework

Published on:

July 1, 2021

cityscape at night

We’re on a mission to RETHINK BUSINESS

Business productivity is down, businesses seem to be constantly fighting fires and struggling to grow; stress levels are up and employee engagement is poor. On top of all that bad news, we’re burning up the planet in the process too.

But if we RETHINK BUSINESS, we can make work better.  

As it currently stands, UK business productivity is struggling. We’re a staggering 17% lower in productivity output than France and America.

What this means is our economy is growing slower, wages are stagnating and there are less funds pumped back into our society in the form of taxes. It’s bad news for everyone.

But it doesn’t need to be this way. We believe that by addressing business productivity we can unlock the potential of SMEs in the UK. If we could increase the business productivity of the 5.9 million SMEs in the UK by just 10%, it would add another £100 billion to our economy.

Think what we could achieve with an additional £100 billion in our economy for our services like healthcare and education.

We believe the key to all of this is to rethink business. That’s why we created our continuous business improvement programme to improve business productivity.

Our continuous business improvement programme is a flexible and actionable business improvement framework that can be applied to any business.

The business improvement framework creates a high performance work system for businesses, increasing business productivity and in turn, increasing business growth and profitability.

We achieve this through our unique approach of project, people and business management towards eight core business growth disciplines. These are:

  • People
  • Risk
  • Quality
  • Communications
  • Workflow
  • Vision
  • Money
  • Beliefs

We’ll look at them more in-depth and how high performance working practices can help revolutionise business growth by unlocking productivity.

1. Businesses are Made up of People, Not Machines

The common business idioms you hear are the ones like “running like a well-oiled machine” or “running like clockwork”. But these are machines. Machines aren’t what make businesses run, people are.

Work processes and systems are managed and operated by people. To improve performance, therefore isn’t to look at improving technologies, but people.

This is all achieved through increasing employee engagement by better understanding the intrinsic motivators behind them. Where in the past, a pay slip and an annual review may have been enough to motivate employees, it’s not the case now.

Research increasingly suggests that employees need purpose and meaning from their work. From this perspective, intrinsic motivators are more along the lines of purpose, development, coaching and relationships within the workplace.

We recognise this, so our framework looks at increasing employee engagement through increasing the value of HR. Where HR has so often been seen as a department to deal solely with recruitment, onboarding and employee retention, we think HR has the potential to be so much more.

HR can help foster and protect a high performance work culture in a huge number of ways, some of which include:

  • Helping employees understand what is expected of them in their role
  • Ensuring employees have the materials and equipment they need to perform their role effectively
  • Fostering a culture of continuous development and learning
  • Helping breakdown communication barriers between teams and departments
  • Evaluating recruitment processes and adopting selective hiring to ensure new hires are employed for values and behaviours that match the company culture
  • Reducing status barriers to allow information and ideas to flow more freely

2. Reduce Risk Through Continuous Improvement of Organisational Performance

Every business has risk.

This could be external risk from economic uncertainties like Brexit or the pandemic. It could be risk from increasingly innovative competitors gaining a larger market share. It could be internal risks like security and compliance.

Our framework reduces risk for businesses by creating more transparency and trust and improving internal communications. We know that by continuously improving operations to develop high performance working practices, businesses become more agile, more innovative and decision making improves. This means businesses are better situated to ride out less certain economic times or better placed to out-innovate competitors through improved product and service offerings.

3. Rethink What Quality Control Means to Your Business

What do you think when you hear the word quality control now?

Chances are, if you’re anything like a huge number of businesses, you think of the current definition, you see quality control as a means of ensuring something is fit for purpose. But in a high performance work system, fit for purpose is not the end goal.

We like to think of quality a little differently in our framework. We think of it as ‘productive quality’. In this approach, instead of quality being a bare minimum, it is used to actively boost productivity.

What was fit for purpose yesterday, won’t be tomorrow. Everybody needs a common understanding of what quality means within the organisation. The values of the organisation will play an important part in this. Our framework uses a quality management system to ensure a process of continuous improvement. This allows businesses to offer better products, services, customer experiences and more.

4. Communication is Improved by Removing Status Barriers and Flattening Hierarchy

One of the core tenets of a high performance work system is communication. After all, how could everyone possibly work to the best of their ability without ever communicating with one another?

Communication is reduced in workplaces by two main aspects currently; hierarchical organisational structures and status barriers. The two are intrinsically linked together.

The current command-and-control management style doesn’t foster communication. In fact, a meagre 14% of employees feel comfortable speaking to their manager about stress levels.

This hierarchical organisation also creates status barriers. Employees feel uncomfortable or out of their depth dealing with higher ups in the business.

But the reality is your employees are your best asset. They know your business better than anyone and their ideas and innovations are what allow your business to grow and thrive. But these ideas and innovations are stifled by hierarchical structures and status barriers.

 This is why our framework helps transform company cultures through change management projects to reduce status barriers and flatten organisational hierarchies, ultimately fostering a culture of open communication and transparency to help every single employee feel like the valued member of the business they are. This helps information, ideas and creativity flow freely throughout the business, improving external and internal communications.

5. Continuously Review and Develop Workflow Processes to Increase Performance

How often do you review your workflow processes?

So many companies take the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to workflows, assuming that because it fulfils a purpose currently, that means it’s working great.

It’s not the case though, and there’s no place for this approach in a high performance work system. With our framework, we examine your workflows and processes to identify strengths and weaknesses. Obviously, we resolve these, but more importantly, we change the way you examine your workflows to ensure a process of continual development. There are many high performance working practices to help aid this which will vary from business to business, but some examples include:

  • Presence of work-improvement teams
  • Presence of problem-solving groups
  • Provision of extensive training for experienced employees

6. A Shared Vision to Align Business Goals to Every Member of Staff

Ask yourself, what your vision for your business is. Now ask yourself whether your employees share that business vision.

One of the key characteristics of a high performance work system is a shared vision for the business. This common goal creates a clear correlation between the strategic aims of the business and every department and every team member. Ultimately, it helps give purpose and meaning to roles.

Our framework helps you develop your business vision and allows every member of staff to share in the same vision, increasing engagement and motivation. 

7. Your Potential Profitability is Untapped

Businesses need to make a profit to function. Nobody is going to argue that!

Often, instead of looking internally, when profits are low businesses jump to sales or marketing campaigns to close the gap. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but so often the root cause of lacklustre profitability is internal.

For example, your business may be missing out on hundreds of potential leads as the frontline staff are swamped with service calls, taking up their time and energy. So while a new marketing campaign might bring in some more leads, unless this is resolved, you’ll still struggle long-term.

Our framework looks at your potential profitability if the issues we identify were resolved and replaced with a better work practice. We’ll show you how to manage your financial metrics, as well as align them with non-financial metrics to give you a clearer picture of your business finances.

8. Consider Your Business Beliefs and the Values They Create

If businesses are just a collection of people, what are people driven by?

Their beliefs and behaviours. The two are intrinsically linked.

So many business coaching programmes fail to address this core aspect of business. But we know that for long-term business performance improvement, the new beliefs need to be ingrained within the DNA of your organisation.

Ultimately, these beliefs come from the leadership figures throughout an organisation, while the rest will follow their lead.

Beliefs can relate to anything within the business. This could be products, other staff members, competitors or the wider market. These beliefs eventually manifest themselves as strategies and values.

These values should be written down and displayed proudly as they will lead the behaviours that drive the business forward. For example, you could value being responsive. This value then creates the behaviour of punctuality, timeliness or quickness to act.

In the bigger picture, these beliefs, values and behaviours create the culture of a company. Failure to communicate your core values and the expected behaviours you require will mean you ultimately can’t reduce your hierarchy or flatten the organisation as employees will not have a clear idea of the basis upon which to make decisions. Values and behaviours bind our entire business improvement framework together and enable shared and improved decision making.

Implement a HPWS for Your Business

Our framework is flexible. This means while we have a great knowledge of high performance work systems and the practices behind them, we know that not every practice works for every business.

Our framework can be applied to your unique business. This means we’ll examine the eight core areas of your business above and apply a bespoke approach to help you unlock your business productivity and increase your profitability. Just get in touch to get started.

About Paul Freudenberg

Paul Freudenberg is a business productivity coach and consultant with a focus on operational excellence delivering improved profitability and business performance, and Founder of Awardaroo in 2005. Paul has set the mission of Awardaroo to help raise UK Business Productivity from one of the lowest in the G7 to one of the highest by 2030. Connect on LinkedIn

Comments

Leave a comment

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.