Managing your business is a constant and ever-present process. It involves tracking employees, keeping on top of your software, monitoring your marketing, and more. And while the processes currently in place seem to be doing the job just fine, you can make your business management more effective by automating your processes, consolidating your infrastructure, and prioritizing quality communication. Learn More
I’ve been asked to talk at a conference about how business has changed in the last ten years. Boy oh boy, where do I start?
It made me think about the changes in how businesses run today. But it also made me think about some consistencies. What are those things that have actually NOT changed? Where are the foundations of solidity in the way we work? Well, I was thinking about the way we behave in business and how businesss etiquette teaches us a set of ways on how to behave and how to present ourselves.
So here are some ideas of how business, in many ways, stays the same:
With so many people working around you, you have to understand one thing – these are the elements you need to care for. Never underestimate, bad mouth or insult anyone.
Be respectful and courteous and ready to apologize for any mistake that you make.
Be diplomatic where required and try not to let personal biases influence your decisions.
Be respectful of your boss and make sure that you always inform him/her of any changes in your project. Never surprise your boss.
You don’t have to make friends with people and invite them for drinks, but building a cordial relation goes a long way in the business world. Make it a point to interact and ask about them and their families.
Talk with your teammates about how you can all make the workplace easier to cope with. That way, you share ideas and make plans for working together in harmony.
As far as the language is concerned, don’t use language that is considered crass, abusive, coarse or insulting. If you view yourself as professionals, you need to ensure that you use formal language that does not insult or cross the territory into being too personal.
Always be on time for appointments, never late. Etiquette states that time is a major issue. Being late makes for a very bad impression and can affect the image that colleagues and bosses might have about you.
Show the right level of balance when it comes to social media use. Etiquette states that we are at work for business, but 9 or 10 hours a day of hard grind can be demotivating. Have a specific guideline for social media use, but ensure people understand it.
So, although I am talking about the changes in business at the conference, there are still some stabilities that exist, still some areas where consistencies matter, and we musn’t lose sight of the fact that these act as good solid foundations for businesses, which actually support the changes that take place.
There’s no doubting that these are trying times for every business, as they struggle to achieve the goals that were originally set by them in the good old days before credit crunches, recessions, global downturns and the like.
There’s also no doubt that the way business is conducted has changed forever. Gone are the days when we knew if we lost a customer, another would come along shortly. We only had to produce good quality products at reasonable prices and customers would stampede to our door. If it was ever true, they will never occur again in the same way and type.
I was thinking about how some businesses still are run as if the major global, national and local competitive changes had never occurred. These are my takes on some of the biggest mistakes these companies still make:
1) Wasting resources: Staff are not utilised to the best of their abilities and their potential not tapped into. A conservative estimate of this waste is to the tune of at least 10%, probably much more.
2) Unwilling to take risks. ‘We have done this for many years now. Why change?’ Even market leaders have to change relentlessly to stay ahead. The also-rans will just fall further behind if they don’t take calculated risks.
3) Underestimating the competition. A new product range is introduced, but you feel that it won’t gain any interest and so you carry on regardless without doing your homework on what customer reaction is.
4) Too long to make decisions. “Let’s think about it for a while…” These are the words of the uninitiated and only guarantees they will be left further behind. Companies today have to employ lean thinking methods to achieve changes far quicker than ever before.
5) Failure to do proper market research. If you think the way you did business five years ago is still ok today, you’ll soon be caught up by those who recognise that new ideas are redundant within days/weeks/months.
6) Blaming failure on things that are outside of their control. Everyone is affected by the economy, shortage of funds, government decisions, the weather, etc, etc. The winners are those who react most effectively to them, and control those things they can.
7) Reluctant to change quickly. Moore’s Law (where our knowledge of everything doubles every 18 to 24 months) is now so true in business it cannot be ignored. Resisting change as irrelevant is the death knell for any company.
8 ) Forcing change without getting buy-in. If you accept change must be made but then simply force the workforce into doing it your way, expect motivation to go down and moaning to go up.
9) Inability to learn from mistakes. Whatever challenges you faced in the past, you must learn lessons from them that can be applied in everyday situations now and in the future. Trying to do the same as before and hoping for the best is a recipe for failure.
10) Ignoring the niche markets. Your USP should be the main driver for your business, as if you try to compete in a saturated market, you had better be better than the rest at something or you’ll be dead in the water.
Doubtless you can think of more, but these are key points that I see happening in businesses that I deal with every day of the year. The warnings are clear for businesses that unless they change and stay ahead of their competition, prepare for failure. It’s that simple.
The Business Excellence Model, also referred to as the EFQM Excellence Model, was designed in the early 1990’s in order to provide a framework to be used when assessing businesses in competition for the European Quality Award. It took me quite a while to understand the criteria the model is based on, so I’m going to share a brief explanation so that you can firmly grasp what you’re working towards. Learn More