You’ve just got the call, yet another key member of staff has decided to leave. That’s the fifth in only two months and you haven’t even been able to replace them yet.

Most people in this scenario reach for the phone to call the recruitment agency because the age-old solution has been “5 people have left the business. I need to find 5 more”.

Or “we will grow by 20% this year, I need to find more people”.

Businesses apply the same thinking to systems and facilities/space, as they do to “needing” more people.

Most companies look externally for a solution to increasing capacity – more people/systems/space. “To do more, we need to add more”.

But it turns out this is expensive, slow and inefficient.

And because of the enormous pressure today to find and retain the right people, the old solution simply isn’t working.

What if there was an internal solution to this? A solution which did not involve the additional cost of hiring more people/getting new systems/adding more space?

Every business can find additional capacity by looking at what it does and how it does it.

And given the pressures business are currently under – growth challenges, supply chain pressures, people constraints – this is now a golden opportunity for companies to start thinking about how much more efficient they could be. What if they start using what they already have in a different way?

There’s not a business in the world where the efficiency of processes and the effectiveness of people can’t be improved.

This is about creating a culture of Continuous Improvement where there is an ongoing, company-wide focus on doing things better.

Companies that get this right are more efficient, more productive and ultimately more profitable.

But this is not about “sweating assets”. Quite the opposite. Having the right Employee Engagement plans is a key part of this. More engaged employees are happier employees.

Happier employees are more productive, stay longer and serve as ambassadors for your business in terms of attracting and retaining other people. All of which, allows your Recruitment/HR people to focus on the right things rather than seeing them endlessly tied up in a hiring frenzy.

So, even the most cynically minded can make the connection between improving employee engagement and increasing profitability!

But the idea of looking internally to identify ways of doing more with what you already have is not just for companies who are struggling to find the right people.

If a company is growing – even where there is an available pool of talent to hire – that company can think differently about how it’s going to find the additional capacity to deliver this growth. Growing your business and “adding more” do not need to go hand-in-hand.

Improving your margin can also grow your business and we worked with one leadership team who wanted to do exactly that.

They knew there was scope to be more efficient. But like lots of teams, they struggled to find the bandwidth to do this themselves. We helped this client ‘get more’ from its existing processes, systems and people.

This started by conducting a detailed review of existing operations to really understand the root causes of the issues. Structured communications plans were designed to ensure all staff understood what was happening and why and this maximised buy-in.

The results included a 35% improvement in margin, a fit for purpose Management structure, significantly improved employee engagement and a single, company-wide focus on creating a culture of continuous improvement.

Doing more with what you already have is about making sure your processes and systems are lean/optimized. You can call it whatever you want but they need to be working for your business. Are your people engaged? Are you doing the right things in terms of Attraction, Retention and Engagement? How are you empowering your people to make sure they are doing their best work? This can be about making sure the right tools and techniques are being used in the business (e.g. Digital/Lean). Whatever it means for your business, the focus needs to be on making sure people are doing meaningful work in order to kick-start the virtuous cycle.

More engaged => happier => more productive/more efficient => more profitable.

We are big fans of Marshall Goldsmith and often use one of his lines – “What got you here, won’t get you there” when speaking with clients. Even where there is no obvious pain point in a business, it’s useful to ask the question “if I was starting again from scratch, would I build what I have today?”. In our experience most companies say they would make changes. And these changes are usually about doing what they do in smarter ways to be more productive.

This is what “getting more from what you already have” is all about.

Looking internally – not externally, where the solutions are all about adding more people, more systems, more equipment, more space – and more cost! – to identify ways your business can be more productive, more efficient and more profitable by knowing you’re doing the right things, and doing them right. As Peter Drucker said, “there is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all”.

Published On: January 20th, 2022 / Categories: Insights /
Brian O’Brien

Partner & Head of
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