For many, January is the perfect time for a new start. Resolutions to go on a diet, exercise more, pay off debt, get a new job, and otherwise improve our lifestyles are as popular as ever. But, there’s another area where a fresh start can make a big difference — Your business.
The fact is, you’re probably so involved in the day-to-day running of your organization that you don’t take a step back and get a better perspective. When you’re able to step away for just a little while and look at things objectively, the chances are you can find some good stuff to improve in your business. Here’s how to go about it.
Step 1 — Set aside the time
Get some time in the diary in early January to remove yourself from everyday operations and allow yourself to review how you could improve how your business functions, policies, and procedures. Encourage your leadership team, key managers, and a selection of employees to be involved. Not only is their input critical, it will also remove some of the burden off your shoulders.
Step 2 — Get out of the workplace
You can’t do this with distractions. Go offsite and have an away day where you can minimize the chance of interruptions and actually get some initiatives in place, bring key members of your team along with you. Make it engaging, fun and ensure you have white boards to capture your ideas. Take pictures so you can save the details of your discussion.
Step 3 — Identify the main areas you want to improve
Have an honest and open discussion with your team. Let everyone bring up the main pain points in the business. What’s unnecessarily complicated or difficult to do? What policies, procedures, or functions could be improved? You’ll want to keep the discussion constructive, but don’t leave anything off the table.
Step 4 — Categorize the problems
You’ll want to split the various issues into categories, for example:
- People related — More training needed, new team setup, staff handbook updates etc.
- Policy related — New and amended policies to make your workplace easier to do business in.
- Procedure related — Changes to business processes, ways of doing things, and functionality.
- Technology related — Issues with technology, hardware, software, etc.
- Other — Any other issues that don’t fit neatly into the previous categories.
Step 5 — Brainstorm fixes
Once you’ve got your categories, see if any of the problems are related. After you’ve done that, go through and generate ideas on how to fix the various issues, especially your policies and procedures. Don’t consider any idea to be too outlandish.
Step 6 — Prioritize
Once you’ve got your ideas, prioritize the fixes. Deliver on ideas that are easy to implement and will have a good impact. Follow that up with the harder implementations that will still make a big difference. After that, carry out the changes that will still have an impact, even if it’s minor.
Step 7 — Give people accountability
Once you have a list of ideas, get people in your business to take ownership of them. Get project management in place to deliver on the ideas and fix the broken parts of your business. Then, get regular updates throughout the year on how things are going. Give your project managers the resources and people they need to make a positive change.
This can be a great way to incentivize and fire up your people to change their working environment. Whether it’s removing bottlenecks in a process, rewriting a policy, enhancing training for team members, improving hiring methods, or replacing old technology, small changes can have a big impact.
Carry this out every January, deliver on your changes, and you’ll have a beautifully functioning, sleek, and efficient operation in less time than you think.