ORGANISATIONS today are struggling with global competition, economic uncertainty and an unstable workforce. The challenge lies in creating a positive work environment that empowers the best talent for peak productivity.
How can companies hold on to market share, loyal customers and outstanding employees?
Having worked with many organisations of varying sizes and across sectors, I observed several commonalities among those who survived.
Here are 10 critical factors that determine an organisation's staying power:
1. Embrace change
Change is a way of life. You can't stop change or slow it down. The real problem today is that change is occurring faster than ever before. Prepare for change by paying attention.
Stop hiding behind your desk. Talk to customers, observe your competitors, communicate with your employees and keep up with the latest trends. But resist change that takes you away from your core business.
2. Groom your people
The only way you can survive is to have employees who have the skills, attitudes and behaviours required to take you from where you are to where you want or need to go.
If you are not investing at least 2 per cent of your total revenue in employee development, your employees will be inert. And when your employees get stuck, your organisation will stay stagnant.
3. Encourage dissent
Disagreement is not disloyalty; dissent is not negative. Without opposing voices in your organisation, you are doomed to a narrow focus.
Encourage diversity of opinions. You can do so by rewarding people who speak up. Acknowledge and validate employees who are passionate about what they believe in even if it flies in the face of convention.
4. Get real
If you are making all of your critical decisions from the top down, many of them will not work for the long term.
You should instead tap into the experiences, insights, creativity and knowledge of your employees. Whether they are the salespeople, administrative staff, support personnel, frontline managers, or clerks, they are aware of the goings-on in the company. Making decisions without their input places your organisation in peril.
5. Foster leadership
Leaders are not just in the upper tiers of management. Thinking like a leader is a mindset every employee should embrace. The receptionist, the janitor and the customer service person can all bring creativity, vision and responsibility to their roles and activities.
6. Manage responsibly
Organisations that manage responsibly treat their employees, customers and vendors with respect, trust and acceptance.
This doesn't mean flouting the rules, policies or procedures. It means that the points of reference used are driven by their engagement with people they work closely with, and not just from the ivory tower.
7. Plan effectively
Without a doubt, the biggest weakness of managers today is their lack of effective time management.
Many managers spend too much time planning meetings and research, and plowing through reports looking for answers to their problems. If plans are not written and shared with those who will help implement them, it is a waste of time.
8. Move quickly
I'm sure you have heard of the fable of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady may win the race, but if you react at a snail's pace today, your competitors may overtake you in no time.
9. Be customer-focused
Being customer-oriented means finding out what your customers want, how they want it, where they want it and when they want it. Troubleshoot problems for your customers and provide solutions.
10. Just do it
I know of organisations that pore over stacks of research before deciding on anything. If you keep doing so, be prepared to watch your competitors overtake you. I am not suggesting rash, knee-jerk decision-making here, but understand that you will never have all the information you need to make a sound judgment.
So just stop trying to make the best decisions. Trust what you believe to be good decisions and do all you can to make them turn out right.