I recently took a poll, asking business owners and leaders what they thought the biggest obstacle standing in the way of their business achieving their targeted revenue and profitability and do you know what the overwhelming answer was?
· No, not lack of customers
· Not better equipment
· Not even systems and processes (although you’re getting warmer…)
· THE biggest obstacle to your business achieving the revenue and profitability is ‘lack of quality employees’ (according to my responders)!
Now granted, employment is at an all-time low and I have been stunned at how difficult it has been to fill some positions for some of my clients (it kind of reminds me of the glory days of 2003 or so, but I digress) but I am just not buying that the employees out there are all some lesser quality, like they are spoiled milk or something.
There is nothing wrong with employees, there is nothing wrong with the newer generation and there is nothing – absolutely nothing – standing in the way of your business achieving record-breaking potential. Nothing, that is, except for a fundamental mistake you are making in your management process.
What I’m about to share may come as a shock to you. It may go against everything you ‘know’ and everything the experts are telling you these days. That’s okay – I’ve strayed from the beaten path myself because the siren songs of the opposing ‘theories’ are very appealing. The problem is they don’t work. At least, not consistently and not in a way you can replicate with all your employees, teams and departments in any kind of reliable or efficient manner.
The system is called Organizational Behavior Management. I think it’s safe to classify it as a ‘basic’ (as in, back to the…), based on how long it’s been around and how reliably it works. The underlying premise to OBM is that there are ‘laws’ of human behavior that work all the time, just like the law of gravity works all the time, and if you incorporate these laws into a structured management system you WILL get:
· The right behaviors, in the right amounts, at the right times. Every time.
· At least 15% increase in profitability if you are focusing on operations.
· At least 25% increase in revenue if you are focusing on sales.
· Employees who understand their role in the big picture, feel appreciated, and are more engaged and less likely to go to your competitor.
I mentored under one of the pioneers of this system early in my career, Dr. D. Chris Anderson. He had applied the technology in industries such as retail, banking, real estate, teaching, manufacturing, hospitality, professional services, high tech sales…even college sports! When I met him, he was looking for projects that he thought would fail, just to test the limits of the program. Our third project together was a power solutions company in the construction industry. There were so many variables out of our control; employees driving unsupervised from site to site, a lack of any way to systematically track and record tasks, huge variations from anticipated to actual workload, lack of static work teams…you name it. And yet we were wildly successful!
Chris claimed that if upper management is committed to the program, it always works, and I don’t think he was ever proved wrong.
Later in my career I became a certified coach and studied more about theories of leadership and motivation. There is some amazing research out there concerning workplace motivation (I particularly love Daniel Pink), and what drives people, and I love incorporating them into my leadership coaching. It frankly feels like the right thing to do, and makes leadership much more meaningful and enjoyable. I’m not for a second dismissing that. But for a management foundation that WILL drive a successful and thriving company, I’ve never found a system to rival Organizational Behavior Management in terms of not only the results you achieve, but also the morale boost it provides.
Chris always told me that I would burn out running OBM projects – he predicted a max of 3. I think I did 5 before I saw what he meant. The nature of the system requires the collection and management of a lot of data. The technology to do this effectively was just emerging 20 years ago so a big part of my job was jockeying spreadsheets. The constraints we faced then just aren’t there anymore with the advent of all the tools we have today to communicate, automate, track and report; tools you probably already have in your business or have access to very affordably!
So if you’re struggling to reach performance goals, or frustrated because it feels like your employees don’t care as much as you do, or even finding yourself at a loss at how to create a ‘workplace culture’ that engages employees and drives excellence and still get actual work done, this solution may be just what you’re looking for. I’m finalizing some resources that I’ll be publishing soon outlining the basics of the program. Until then, if you’re interested in learning more, please reach out. I love talking about this stuff!
Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Limitless HR Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm focused on helping organizations, leaders and job seekers to identify workplace solutions that work. As a certified HR Professional, executive coach and resume writer, Carrie consults with small to medium sized businesses on organizational development, human resources and recruiting solutions in addition to providing career coaching to managers and executives in transition. Carrie can be reached for consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org