Often clients only reach out for external expert help when they’re going through a growth spurt, are stretched to full capacity and have their heads so full of daily stresses and competing priorities that they can’t think clearly or strategically.
When we first meet, clients are often overworked and struggling with a myriad of priorities, all of which seem to be needed NOW. They’re trying to manage budgets and cash flow, implement new products, dealing with the need for technology upgrades and fixing other operational matters.
It’s no wonder that managing people is often the last thing on the minds of business owners and managers, even though subconsciously they know it’s a priority.
Assessing the situation
Often, when I enter an organisation I can quickly tell that a reshuffle of the team—sometimes minor and sometimes major—could go a long way in improving workflow, productivity and efficiency.
I regularly recommend that conduct quick 360 reviews with team members at all levels, from executives to those working on the ground. These reviews are invaluable in providing a quick snapshot of exactly:
- who is who
- who is doing what
- who should be doing what
- who isn’t performing
- who is happy
- who isn’t happy
- who is ready to leave, or should leave.
The 360 reviews also provide important data and information on:
- the organisational structure and whether it’s working to achieve organisational outcomes
- whether existing roles and responsibilities fit the current business model
- what team members believe their challenges are and what their views are about these challenges
- what team members believe is needed to support them to do perform more effectively and efficiently
- what improvements are needed to support the business to achieve better results
- what policies, processes and procedures are needed to get the business to the next level.
Having an external expert conduct 360 reviews is a great solution, and one that offers many advantages. Think about this:
- People tend to speak more openly and honestly with someone outside of the organisation.
- Sometimes the team can see what’s needed more than the business owner or management can. This is because they are ‘doing the doing’ and can have a better understanding of current challenges and obstacles.
- Team members are often afraid to approach the business owner or management with suggestions or thoughts for fear of being rejected or reprimanded. External experts can draw these out in a safe environment.
By conducting 360 reviews with one business owner, the executive team and a select few of the floor staff of a client in Canberra, I discovered unhappy team members frustrated with the lack of proper policies and procedures and the uncertainty of their roles and responsibilities.
After the reviews I was able to recommend a restructure of the executive team. Instead of recruiting new staff, as the business owner initially requested, I was able to determine how to work more effectively with existing team members. We fast tracked a select few team members with major untapped potential, saving the business $280,000.
By conducting 360 reviews with another client I discovered the administration team was confused over what they should be doing due to lack of training. They also felt they were being bullied by the office manager and were under-resourced.
Once again, the head of the business felt that recruiting an Executive Assistant was the answer since it would help him and to remove some of his stress. I recommended a dramatically different approach.
We restructured the business model, which meant terminating the office manager role, moving administration staff into roles better suited to their skill sets and interests. This included recruiting an all-rounder to support the team (not just the head of the business) in a wide range of general office tasks. This freed up other staff to work on billable time and important requirements such as applying for tenders.
The restructure was quick, and it saved the business approximately $90,000 in salaries.
- Don’t underestimate the power of external expertise.
- Don’t be afraid of 360 reviews—they can be so empowering.
- Be aware that making decisions, such as recruiting new staff, without having properly researched the ‘why’ can cost you heaps.
- Be aware that an efficiency expert, using 360 reviews, can save you heaps.