5 Tips for Business Growth Using Process Thinking

Ever feel like running your business is like being punched in the gut? Often, new business owners have challenges because they are pursuing one thing at the expense of something else. For instance, it is true that you need to hire people, but often, hiring requires supervision and development. Without a proper system, you are likely to cause a breakdown of your business in totality.

(To get a sense of how to enhance your business processes for better productivity, click here to arrange a discovery call with me.)

I remember when I first intended to move my business online, I got smacked down because I thought I could hire people to build the system for me. Unfortunately, it was a much more expensive endeavor (over $300,000 in cost) than I expected, and it literally broke my business. Since then, I have gotten wiser and smarter, and refrain from doing things when I don’t have clear processes and practices in place.

Attract, Select and Retain the right people. Get a superior hiring system.

When you are building a team, you have to utilize proper hiring practices. For instance, when a talent manager starts to prepare to select people, he will look at the business requirements and begin to describe the ideal person and background in a typical job copy that will go into a website or job board. The first line of this will read something like:

“You are a dedicted and detail-driven individual who enjoys numbers and analyzing data.”

Without this, you are not likely to be able to get your target hires to resonate with the job you have available within your business.

Next, you are going to have to set up those criteria, anticipate stakeholder requirements and walk through the job clearly yourself. What do they need to handle? What skills will then need? Are those skills compulsory or not? When you have done this, you will automatically need to make up a clear system for assessment. Assessment is crucial, so you have to utilize something that is valid. A valid assessment is one where what you test is actually what is being tested. Some people simply use an interview as an assessment. But you can’t really verify what what someone says in an interview is really what you need in execution. One way to show this is that instead of seeing if a person is good in sales through conversation, you are going to need to get them to go into a room with a prospect (who is really an assessor) and attempt to sell them something. Based on specific a priori characteristics, you then determine whether this person will suit your sales team. The design of such an assessment center may be quite costly, but definitely not as costly as having a wrong hire, which often is estimated to 6x – 12x the monthly salary of the individual in question. After you have made an attempt to match the hiring criteria to the assessment criteria, you can then look into your developmental processes which will justify another blog post! I’ll cover some of these developmental ideas in the final point.

Build a keen insight into psychological strengths of individuals and how they work together.

As a leader, you are not just building a business. You are also building a team. The team that is able to work together is like a ship. You might have a strong mast, but if your hull is shit, you basically have a shit ship. What you have to do is ensure that you are looking at a bigger picture in terms of skills and integration. Much of it also is about the learning adaptability of the individual. Do they learn well? Do they learn fast? This is one of the reasons why teaching your team how to understand other team members and what they do is often essential in building a robust and resilient team. If you can read their strengths and put those strengths together, you will most definitely create better engaged memebers who enjoy their work challenges.

Master agile team workflows. Don’t wait for perfection.

Often, uncertainty will create barriers for progress. Sure, perfection is a nice dream, but we’ve never had a perfect computer, let alone a perfect Windows (all hail blue screen of death). Truth be told, we merely need a minimum viable process and work from there. The results will be your feedback, and team members who can respond well to feedback can help the business to thrive. To understand process mapping, you need to understand the value of specific, tangible behaviors. Many of these behaviors are going to be cognitive processes, and you need tools to recognize what these mental processes are. I often help entrepreneurs to look beyond just the simple behaviors and examine if those behaviors have room for ambiguity (e.g. build a website, enrol a student, prepare a proposal). Most of the time, the language we use is vague and ambiguous because we simply think from our own perspective!

One way I help teams to brainstorm their workflows is to run simulations for them. Quite a fair amount of work that solopreneurs do are taken for granted since they were the ones who unconsciously started their business, and somehow succeeeded up to a point. So a simple activity of bringing a team to work together helps me to “see” who does what, and how different roles interface, so that the original workflow can be adjusted and modified for efficiency.

For instance, I used to spend a lot of time doing customer onboarding. I needed to set up multiple documents, copy them into Google Drive, send emails, check account setup and so on. Unfortunately, each individual that I did this manually for ended up taking as long as 45 minutes. Thanks to automation these days, I can literally do it in a minute. The power of automation and artificial intelligence should be things you capitalize on to build better and stronger processes. You won’t get it perfect the first time around, but it most definitely will enable you to emphasize productive improvement.

Create efficiency through constant testing and tweaking. Every process needs an owner.

So each team member needs to understand why their process tweaking is important. There is a clear difference between people who are able to do something versus people who are able to describe what they are doing. This, in essence, is known as modeling. You might be able to cook a great medium rare steak. But that is the end result. To replicate the result, you need to look at the process that created this. Each step is sequential and programmed. This is why each person owning the process must know it in order to improve it. If I hadn’t looked at my onboarding process and innovated to remove the tedium, I would have wasted a lot of my time while putting myself under unnecessary pressure!

I pride myself with being able to study and model business processes. When your business does not have clear processes, you are likely to waste time because you have to think about what you need to do.

If you are sure of the processes to start and drive your car, for example, you know that it initially is an unconscious process. But after you start, you are going to need to

Knowing how to sail a ship requires you to know what to do specifically. It’s knowing that putting up your sail before releasing your anchor is a terrible idea! I utilize cognitive processes to visualize those processes in order for you to get to a level of “no mind”. In other words, you no longer have to spend time thinking about your processes in order to get to the level of execution.

Build the right next generation leadership team. Be prepared for a bumpy ride.

Well, that didn’t really sound encouraging. But just as I shared in the first point, you really need a development plan. To build next generation leadership you must first remember that they are not you. As a founder of an enterprise, you are definitely more driven and probably far more result-oriented. Yet, you need to groom potentials in order to create the kind of stability that can function without you. Leaders need to be able to demonstrate proactivity. So it may be that you are leaving special projects in their hands to expand their scope. It could also be that they are called in to help solve certain types of problems outside their areas of responsibilities. The results they can achieve are just as important as the way they seek to achieve them. And remember: they are not you! In fact, they are probably vastly different than you. You will need to hear their approach and create opportunities for them to grow and let them make their own mistakes. This is an important part of the journey of development, but it definitely helps to build a sense of responsibility.

Conclusion

If it sounded a little more complex than you thought, you’re right. But you have to start somewhere in order to survive. To be able to craft effective workflows, it’s not just about inputs and outputs. You have to work through a framework of thinking in a systematic manner. I’d love to give you the mother of all systems, but each business is vastly different. So the only way I can help businesses would be to study the blueprint of your actions and match that with your intentions. Often, there are better ways to get to your outcomes than what you are doing. This is the blindspot that most business owners are unable to see because of the level of details it entails.

To get a sense of how to enhance your business processes for better productivity, click here to arrange a discovery call with me.

See also  Leadership Coaching

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