Developing Systems Vs. Leadership

Good leadership is great. I really am all for it, BUT. . .

There have been some great leaders out there including an old boss of mine. He truly was a great leader, but great leaders don't mean efficient and consistent operations. Even with my great leader/boss, things weren't so efficient or consistent. The fact is, I've never heard of a class that actually turned everyone who passed into a great leader. . . OK, maybe a better leader.In fact, even if things are running pretty well, the minute the great leader disappears, things can go south quickly. So which of the following two scenarios do you believe is closer to reality?

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1. You're a great inspirational leader who is there day in and day out ,to make decisions and monitor and motivate your employees and you have a never ending supply of totally first rate employees, who keep things humming along whether you are there or not.


2. Youre a reasonably smart boss. Youre not the greatest leader there ever was, but you're certainly not the worst. Youve got some pretty decent employees, but you need to stick around the business almost constantly to stay on top of the fire drills that come up and the decisions that need to be made on the spot. Sometimes if it wasnt for your presence, things could get out of control, especially if you have one or two relatively new employees.

But, what if you could have the following situation?

You have a business that chugs along whether you're there are not. The employees all know their job because it is has been very specifically taught to everyone and there are systems in place to assure that everyone does their job right whether you're there are notyear end and year out!

Systems Physically Exist AND They Are Tangible Assets. . . Day-to-Day Orders And Instructions Are Fleeting

I don't care whether it's a nail salon, a gourmet cookie business, a lawn and garden center or a stain glass store. If I was coming into a business as a new owner, or I was investing in a business, I would rather have procedures, systems and an organization that would allow the business to operate day-in and day-out without confusion. If a businesss main man who has been effectively managing a business suddenly becomes ill or sidetracked (that's you), a solid system that is capable of being monitored and enforced is golden for that business. Remember, leaders come and go and some are better than others, but a good system doesn't go away unless it's never implemented or enforced.

Yes, couple a great leader with some truly exceptional employees and you've got something. But what if you're not Bear Bryant and your people are not highly motivated geniuses?

If you think about it, businesses with very specific procedures that are all designed to deliver proven predictable results consistently,are the ones that shine and profit over the average or poor performing businesses. If your business has the ability to enforce good solid procedures by measuring and monitoring these activities regardless of who's in charge, or even how organized you are . . . . .you have GOLD!

Look at McDonalds, Things Remembered, Subway, KFC. . .

McDonalds and other fast food companies are able to deliver billions of burgers, fried chicken and other products to millions of customers day-in day-out, in places all over the country and the world, with different cultures, education and viewpoints. They are owned by independent operators with different management techniques, and unbelievably they do it all WITHOUT making us sick! They do it with consistent and satisfactory quality at reasonably low prices and they do it in a volume that the average greasy spoon restaurant would envy. And think about it. . . some of these people working at these fast food companies, I wouldn't trust to fix me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at home. Even the point-of-sale systems don't require anyone to think enough to enter a price correctly. Just punch a picture or a symbol. Yet McDonalds, Subway, KFC etc., pull it off with baggy dressed, nose pierced, midriff bearing, hormone crazy, text message addicted A.D.D. teenagers who are thinking about who they're going out with this weekend and where they're going to get beer! (I'm sorry. . I can't help generalizing.)

Things Remembered, the gift and engraving retailer turns the average adult or teenager into a professional engraver who puts all kinds of sentiments on reasonably priced gifts and keepsakes without driving the company broke! These are not highly trained craftsmen. They make use of a system.

Very few of these employees are thinking about how they're going to earn the promotion or worrying about paying the mortgage and keeping the boss happy. And keep in mind all this consistent smooth production this also happens onsite without the presence of visionary leadership, charismatic leaders and motivational speakers or teambuilding exercises and retreats

These successful operations don't have on-site motivational, inspirational and visionary leaders leading everyone to a hamburger or fast food nirvana. What they do have is well thought out and documented systems. Theyre not sending their teenage work force off to teambuilding exercises or soul-searching breakout groups at a weekend retreat.

Think about this, if you we're going to invest heavily in a close friends business, wouldn't you rather he had great systems in place so that any idiot could run the place. Wouldnt you prefer that his business had a system for follow up on orders and training where a new employee could be plugged right into a spot and everyone knew their job and their responsibilities because of what had already been established. Or. . . would you rather have your friend be a good manger and good leader who was on top of everything that went on? What happens if you decide to open other locations or what happens if the friend drops dead tomorrow. Where is your investment?

Leadership is not some mysterious magical formula or special class you can graduate from.

If there is a class in leadership and you're a straight A student, it doesn't mean that you will be able to transform and inject your varied group of average folks with gung-ho, take charge, thinking and turn everything into a well oiled machine of superstars. If you believe that, boy can I sell you some seminars and books. People putting on grandiose leadership seminars want us to believe we can all do what they may have done, and while there may be some good lessons, the reality falls far short of the promise.

A lot of executives and business owners love going to these leadership seminars and retreats, because it really can be a lot of fun, both to attend and to dream about being a great leader and having all that wisdom.

The Downside of Developing Systems For Your Business

Its not too much fun being bogged down in the detail, the meetings and all the writing and planning that goes into creating a good system, the follow up and enforcement of that system. Its also much easier and tempting to call your gang of text message addicted employees a bunch of idiots or unresponsive boobs. You can just go on under the delusion that your employees are unmotivated are don't appreciate your day-to-day decisions, micro managing and fire drills.

Think seriously about passing on the inspirational seminars and spend some time focusing on systems and procedures and how you'll enforce them.

A Few Suggestions For Getting Started:

Developing systems for your business is no different than creating and closely following a food recipe. You are a developing a recipe with ingredients and instructions for every procedure or activity in your business.

Start Small.Take one item or problem at a time. Do not initially try to take on a whole manual of policies or procedures. Consider documenting one process at a time, assuring that the procedures are the best operating procedure for the task. Whatever you do, work to have a way of measuring and checking the success of the job or procedure. You must monitor for compliance and/or improvements if you want to improve your business processes. Youll probably end up making changes and adjustments as you go. Just be sure they updated and documented.

As you focus in on any one procedure or system, organize and break it down by financial, merchandising, closing/opening procedures, loss prevention, etc.

You may want to prioritize what procedures you zero in on first. For example, your single biggest area for error or confusion may be first. On the other hand you may want to tackle a simpler task first to get the hang of it. I would not try to tackle all accounting procedures first. It would probably be better to focus on need based problems or procedures first.

Whatever procedures and systems you develop, make sure you identify who is responsible for carrying out the procedure and how it will be monitored for compliance. You can have all the procedures in the world, but who cares if no one is checking and rechecking to assure they're actually being used and enforced. And believe me, employees quickly learn what you care about and what is monitored or not monitored.

Remember the goal with any system or procedures is to create consistency and compliance, regardless of who is performing a given task. Consistency, regardless of who performs the task is the key. Once you have a clearly documented procedure, you may want to walk through the process yourself to make sure every detail is covered. A better idea is to have someone who is not familiar with the task, follow the procedures. This is where wholes and gaps will most likely be found.

The fact that you create your procedures one at a time, allows you to implement them and get used to the idea of monitoring them one at a time. Waiting until you have a complete manual full of every possible procedure would be virtually impossible to put into place all at once, so appreciate the fact that you are gradually putting procedures and systems into place.

In Conclusion:

Any really good retailer has a very heavy tough hurdle to get over. You and your business require the best people. Unfortunately, there's not enough of them out there and they're most likely not applying at your business! The best people tend to know that they're in demand.Theres intense competition for them they're expensive and the average small business owner will most likely not win the competition for these people.

Once you have procedures, remember they can be improved. Keep them enforced until you find a better way and then be willing to modify your procedures when a better idea is suggested. You want employees to be encouraged to give feed back and input. This is the environment you want rather then enforcing a policy that is rigid but inefficient or out of date. Having a procedure that is poor and cast in concrete is one of the worst things you can do for morale.


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Posted in Publishing and Printing Post Date 05/03/2016






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