FranklinCovey Blog | Predictable Results in Unpredictable Times
Does this sound familiar…
“I work at a Fortune 500 company. Each year we have layoffs so more work is given to each of us; no pay increase. This additional work adds 5-10 hours per week. Last year I averaged 60-70 per week and am working more this year.”
“I have worked in Manufacturing for nearly 30 years. Our plant had 4000 employees when I started. Today we have 187 people left, 72 of them are on the executive team. We are expected to come to work an hour early, work through lunch and stay two hours late everyday.”
“I work as a Web Producer for a publishing company. Over the past 6mo. they’ve laid off 50% of our staff. . . . So, now we’re stuck with a limited staff, each one doing 2-3 times as much work, most of which we’re not qualified or experienced in.”
These actual postings from www.cnn.money illustrate one of the key hazards of these unpredictable times: Trying to do more with less. Of course, the concept is a virtuous one—everyone wants to get more return from fewer resources. That’s what productivity is all about.
But real people are paying a real price for unintelligent application of this principle.
The problem is too many companies lay people off and then expect the survivors to pick up the slack, doing two or three jobs at once. The obvious downside is spikes in stress, burnout, quality problems, and disengagement. You can’t expect overwhelmed people to do quality work or to get engaged in what they’re doing.
Everyone wants to do more with less. But the real question is “more of what”? More of the same? Or more of the kind of work that your customers really value?
In our recent book we focus hard on this question. The turmoil we live in is displacing workers in unprecedented ways, and companies are paying a heavy price for mindlessly shedding numbers without re-thinking the business model. Service levels drop, quality plummets, and revenues slide.
On an airliner, serving peanuts to everyone might be in the flight attendant’s job description. But in turbulent air, you really don’t care if the flight attendant does that job. It’s not as important as caring for the safety and well-being of the passengers. Maybe you can do without serving peanuts for a while.
Isn’t it time to stop asking people to do the impossible by trying to work two or three jobs at once? Isn’t it time to push the re-set button and ask what work really adds value and forget the rest?
We’d like to hear from you. Are you trying to do “more with less”? Are you like the people we’ve quoted above? Or are you doing more of what really matters and less of what doesn’t?
Last week in our webcast, The 4 Key Principles for Getting Predictable Results in Unpredictable Times, we had several questions submitted that we didn’t have time to answer. We thought we would take the next few posts and answer some of them here. One of our participants, a hospital administrator, asked, “How do you keep employee morale up when you’re asking them to do more with less?”
The answer: Don’t ask them to do more with less.
Instead, ask them to do less of what doesn’t matter and more of what does matter.
Morale has little to do with how hard people work or how tough the job is. People will do extraordinary things and work incredibly hard if they feel their contribution matters. › Continue reading
What happens when your computer gets overloaded?
It slows down. Everything takes longer. It starts giving you error messages. Soon it freezes, and then it crashes.
It’s the same thing that happens to you when you get overloaded. There’s a natural principle at work here: the things I have to do are infinite, but the capacity I have to do them is limited. (In my case, quite limited.) In our new book, Predictable Results in Unpredictable Times, we talk about how to “push the reset button” on your work and your life when things get scary.
Here’s the issue: At work, everybody’s trying to do more with less. But the real question is, more of what? Are you just trying to do more stuff whether customers value it or not? Are you trying to do the jobs of people who aren’t here anymore, whether those jobs are worth doing or not?
Push the reset button. Ask yourself, what’s the job that really needs to be done? What job do my customers want me to do more than anything else?
Say you’re the only finance person left after everybody else is let go. Do you really need to keep track of every single data point that’s always been tracked? What are the company’s real needs right now? Protecting cash flow? Getting accounts receivable paid up?
Figure out what the organization really needs you to do. Then focus on that job. Instead of trying to do 2 or 3 jobs that “kind of, ought to” be done, strip yourself down to the job that you must do and that only you can do.
I hear you giggling. “Tell that to my boss.” No, you tell it to your boss. In these scary times, nobody—including you—can afford to carry responsibilities that aren’t core to the organization’s purpose.
What else can you do to succeed in the middle of the wild ride we’re all taking right now? We would love to hear from you.
Get a copy of Predictable Results in Unpredictable Times for 30% off.
On July 11, Apple celebrated the first anniversary of the App Store. One year and more than 1 billion downloads later, the App Store has revolutionized the software market and chalked up a wildly successful year in the middle of one of the deepest downturns in business history.
They did this by applying a key principle from Predictable Results in Unpredictable Times: focusing simply on the job real customers want done. Clearly, the App Store is successful because it allows customers to get exactly what they want immediately and in a simple and inexpensive way. As we said in the book, “Simplification reduces uncertainty. You can get more predictable results if you focus on simple, high-value offerings for the customer.”
Is the App Store simple? Absolutely. Search the catalog for what you want, and buy with one click.
Is the App Store “high-value”? Absolutely. You get low-cost applications that solve such pesky everyday problems as remembering your schedule, counting calories, and checking the weather, as well as giving you instant access to your favorite music.
We agree with the comment from Domonic on our previous post, who contributed this insight: “One of the biggest challenges I see is that people are focused more on what they have to offer than really identifying the needs of the market. They are telling the market what it needs instead of listening to clients and letting them identify what the true need is.” So true.
So many organizations just don’t get it. They are, as Domonic says, focused inwardly on what they have to offer while deluding themselves that they are customer focused. In crazy, unpredictable times, customers are very careful, but they do know a good deal when they see it.
If the App Store can solve one of my problems right now and for 99 cents, I’ll buy. And, it so happens, so will a billion other people.
So what are you doing to focus more on your customers in these wild times? Is it paying off for you? We’d love to hear.
Check out videos and tools from the book Predictable Results in Unpredictable Times
If there’s one thing that’s certain in the business world, it’s uncertainty.
Who would have thought a couple of years ago that giant corporations would be toppling overnight? That gas prices would rise sky high and then collapse again within a few days? That the economic boom would implode into the worst recession in 50 years?
But even in unpredictable times like these, some companies still perform with excellence. How do they do it? What principles do they follow? This blog is a place where we will discuss exactly that. It is a place where we can share insights and successes.
The book Predictable Results in Unpredictable Times, a new book by Stephen R. Covey and Bob Whitman, chairman of FranklinCovey, captures four key principles for getting great performance in good times and bad.
First, winning companies slim down to a few key simple goals with clear targets and careful follow-through. Everybody in the firm knows the goals and what to do about them. › Continue reading