4 Strategies to Help Managers and Their Teams to Move Mountains.
According to the research, our brains on the fly can recall about seven items in a sequence. Seven seems to be the magic number for the capacity of our “working memory.” The working memory allows us to retain small chunks of information readily accessible for use. It facilities our planning, problem-solving, reasoning, and comprehension, i.e., our brains use it to help us perform our daily tasks.
Now, I can hear you ask: but as a manager, what all this has to do with my team and their operations?
Well, quite a bit.
No matter what team you manage or what business you are in if your plans or processes are too complicated, your people might not understand them. Simplifying as much as possible will boost their performance and deliver more significant results.
You don’t have to take my word for it but how about some advice from two of greatest achievers in the world’s history?
“Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains” – Steve Jobs
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo da Vinci
Not easy but SIMPLE.
Here are four strategies that will help your business to reach new heights.
1. Break down the goals into small attainable chunks
Do you have a big vision with audacious goals for your business and team?
If you answered yes, that is great!
Vision and ambitious objectives are essential for long-term planning.
But they can be overwhelming and even paralyzing for people when it comes to execution.
In order to help your team, break down the big goals, into quarterly ones first, and then into actionable weekly items. Small chunks of work are much more achievable as we can see the proverbial light in the tunnel. This strategy gives our actions a beginning and foreseeable end.
Short-term and attainable goals will also give you an opportunity to celebrate each small win with your team. And that is an excellent fuel for people to keep going and do better at every stage of the way.
2. Use the power of “less is more” in operating procedures
Research studies have proven that the excessive number of options and choices depletes our will power and mental bandwidth. Too much choice can corner anyone into the state of analysis – paralysis.
Take this for example.
Have you ever been lost in a new place and asked a local for directions? Have they ever given you a convoluted answer of sorts: go up then behind that sign turn right, then left then right again …. only to lead you less than 100 meters forward before you had to ask again?
I am sure you know what I mean.
Instructions that are too long and complicated lead to higher mistake rates and can turn into chaos especially in an emergency
That is why when you create plans or operating procedures, keep them short and standard as much as possible. The golden 80/20 rule is a good one to follow. Minimum 80% standard and maximum 20% custom to accommodate your client’s unique needs but still as simple and clear as possible.
The less “special” each process contains, the better it will be executed.
The power of “less is more” is sometimes too undervalued in our complex world of abundance.
3. Create a culture of continuous improvement
Even when you start with simple, complicated and more have their way to creep into everything in our lives. One day you think everything is working great, processes are robust in helping your business to win, only to see something going wrong and exposing issues the next day.
Remember, nothing is static. In today’s day and age, the markets change faster than we want them to. And with that the customers’ needs, competition and of course technology.
Creating a culture of continuous improvement that empowers everyone in your organization to suggest better ways of doing things will help you keep up with the times.
Once you have it, take time to ensure that changes introduced through continuous improvement are smart and well implemented. Every time you improve a plan or process don’t just add to it. Take the opportunity to review it end to end to eliminate unnecessary waste.
As William James has put it: “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.
4. Instill good habits in your team to make room for critical thinking
We are creatures of habit. Our brains use this powerful tool to automate as many of our behaviors as possible. This way we save energy and give room to the brain to perform other functions, for example, strategic thinking or creativity.
Helping your employees create good habits in their daily
Here are three simple examples:
– SMILE – great habit for everyone but especially in customer service. When your customer service representatives smile it can be felt and heard on the phone by the clients. It will also positively impact their customer interaction via other means of communication. Smiling causes us to feel happy, which in turn will affect the word choices we use when writing emails or chats. Other benefits of smiling are a reduced level of stress, boost to the immune system and elevating the mood of those around you. Can you see the ripple effect in waiting?
– SCHEDULING – most of the teams are great at planning, but then when it comes to execution it can be a hit and miss. How about having a habit of scheduling tasks needed for the plan to materialize? Research suggests that the more specific we are about what and when we were going to do, the more likely we are to actually do it. For most of us, having something appear on our calendar has a magical effect on performance!
– DAILY HUDDLE – a quick 10-15 mins daily informal meeting can have great benefits to any team. Whether in person or conference knowing what everyone is up can help eliminate unnecessary e-mail traffic or align certain activities. It also strengthens the bond and collaboration between the team giving them an opportunity for regular and more relaxed interaction.
As you might have figured it out by now, I am a big fan of keeping life simple. Simplicity is, is one of my core values. Simple is not easy. It requires common sense. The benefits are hard to dismiss. Simplicity eliminates confusion and chaos that can result from it. It keeps overwhelm and stress at bay. It brings small wins, satisfaction to motivation to keep going.
Simplicity might be hard work, but it is a beautiful thing to adopt and it all pays off in the end!
If you use point 4 (autonomy and critical thinking) in the first place that will help you a lot in point 2 (simplify). If your goals are clear and that you measure your KPI the procedures can be very short and simple Indeed.