Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pieces of a puzzle?

Business is like a jigsaw puzzle, with pieces that fit together and make a complete picture.

The catch is that each piece is held by a different member of the business team. It's like doing a giant jigsaw puzzle with about 10 or 20 others, each looking at one part of the puzzle and working on it.

So what's the problem?

What if you had the wrong pieces, or if one of those pieces is missing?

What if one person just could not get his or her part right? Everyone else has completed and are waiting on this one part to be complete. Until that happens, the picture is not complete, and no one can sit back and take satisfaction from a job well done.

Possible reasons why that one person is struggling?
  1. Never done this before.
  2. Have done this before but cannot remember how I completed it.
  3. It's too complicated, I'm used to smaller puzzles.
  4. No one showed me what the final picture is supposed to look like, so I have no idea what to do with my pieces.
Then again, it could be because one of the completed parts is in the wrong place and the final piece cannot go in.

Okay, so what's the similarity with running a business?

Never done this before.
Do you have training or mentor programmes in place for new or inexperienced employees? A new employee who has training or guidance fits into the organisation much faster and performs much more efficiently.

Ideally, this would be in place internally with senior members of your staff training and guiding the new member.

And it is known who is responsible for the training and mentoring so there is no second guessing.

Have done this before but cannot remember how I completed it.
Does your organisation have written procedures in place? Something as simple as a filing procedure can throw a spanner in the works.

Imagine if you would that your salesman quoted for a big job, and now the customer is on the line and wants to confirm and pay a deposit so you can get started. Salesman is on extended leave or worse still has resigned.

Where is the quote? What did he quote for? How much is the job worth? Do you have the necessary materials to start the job? If not then when can you start?

If everyone knew where quotations are to be filed, then this would not be a problem as you would know exactly where to look for it and retrieve it.

Having a training/mentoring programme and written procedures in place would also have an added advantage of minimising the impact of staff turnover on the running of your business.

It's too complicated, I'm used to smaller puzzles.
Round peg in a square hole? This goes hand in hand with the training and mentoring programme. No doubt with proper training and guidance, your staff can graduate from doing small puzzles to big ones. That is not to say that you get your salesman to do your book keeping for you, although with some training that too may not be too much of a challenge.

No one showed me what the final picture is supposed to look like.
Has everyone in your organisation, from the tea lady to the Managing Director, seen the complete picture of what your business is about and where it's heading? Your vision and mission as a business owner needs to be communicated to all levels so everyone knows, understands and shares the same inclinations. If not, the picture is always in the "nearly finished" phase and never quite gets completed.

To conclude, no matter how small your business, you must have:
  1. training/mentoring programme
  2. written procedures, and,
  3. vision and mission statement
in place.

A few simple things that can make your business a well oiled organisation that responds and not just reacts.