ERP Help for Companies Drowning in Data But Thirsting for Actionable Insight

By David Shaffer, ERP Practice Head, Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC

Do you feel it is “sink or swim” with the tidal wave of data that is hitting your business? “Data, data everywhere, and not a drop to help us think” is a common lament.

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But there is a tremendous opportunity you might be missing that competitors are taking advantage of, including interactive dashboards. These highlight key performance indicators – clearly and concisely – so executives can make decisions based on data and reality and not in a vacuum.

These capabilities are powering a next generation change in how the deluge of data can help you make better decisions. Consider these quick examples:

A men’s grooming product maker successfully implemented enterprise resource planning (ERP) to better track inventory and financial data.

A rapidly expanding confectioner used ERP to standardize thousands of chocolate-making processes and restructure an ineffective warehouse management system that could not keep pace.

A manufacturer of chemical products, which are used in electronics, automotive, and housing industries, implemented an ERP system to avoid human errors and to be able to automate workflows for increased productivity.

In each example, ERP was used to harness data.

Today, any business can obtain ROI with effective systems and processes that promote growth strategies.

Companies, regardless of industry, need to recognize the ever-growing need to integrate responsive information with optimal best practices within day-to-day operations. In the past, the selection of appropriate systems has been confined to those who have large budgets, resources, and time to do extensive evaluations and due diligence. That is no longer the case.

ERP Is The Mortar In The Brick Wall

To use a masonry metaphor, an ERP system is like mortar, the cement-like mixture of sand and lime that keep bricks in place. You can think of an ERP system working like the mortar that binds together the different computer systems for a large organization (your bricks). Without an ERP application, each department would have its system optimized for its specific tasks. With ERP software, each department still has its system, but all of the systems can be accessed through one application with one interface. The systems stand together like a strong brick wall.

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Please understand that the appropriate evaluation and selection of systems is equally critical and important to the success of the mid-size, growing business. Based on years of evaluation, support, and success, we have developed a proprietary process that brings the same value and benefits of past selection without introducing extensive costs. Our belief is that hard-earned dollars should be directed toward solution implementation and not toward selection.

We recommend a process that incorporates a series of integrated steps that quickly and efficiently highlight the following:

• Scenarios that mirror operations in order to test the viability of proposed solutions

• Accountability for vendors that align implementation of value applications with operational efficiencies

• Selecting software solutions that follow business processes from ordering through fulfillment rather than just specific application areas

Implementation And Project Management

To help position our clients for success, we created an ERP selection process called Quick Start, developed with the expertise of consultants who bring business and system knowledge to the selection process. Our team recognizes the value of your investment and have first-hand understanding of the impact effective systems and processes can have on meeting growth strategies.

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The Quick Start process encompasses several key interrelated steps that build upon each other and are directed toward the selection and implementation of the Information System that meets your requirements. The process focuses on your unique and key business flows rather than the nice-to-see demonstrations that many vendors focus on during demonstrations.

We recommend the following steps to select an ERP system:

1. Begin The Right Way. Get a qualified consultant who has traveled this road many times. Start with an initial kickoff meeting to set expectations, including an outline of preliminary observations gathered through an interview and site walk-through evaluation process.

2. Make A List; Check It Twice. Based upon the preceding interviews and data gathering, develop and review a list of key requirements for the new system, comprising needs that are distinctive for strategic growth. Create a list of key requirements and key business scenarios. Receive suggestions based upon observations for possible operational efficiencies.

3. Set The Scenarios. Develop key business scenarios as a framework for software demonstrations Unlike most selections that focus exclusively on application capabilities, recognize that businesses rely on the flow of information across departments. Scenarios reflect overall flows from order through fulfillment.

4. Assure Accurate Scenarios. Review the key scenarios with interview participants to assure accuracy.

5. Round Up The Vendor Suspects. Distribute requirements and scenarios to select software vendors. Identify possible solutions based upon experience and software vendor feedback from distribution of requirements. Assure that vendors understand the need to demonstrate the scenarios.

6. Demo That System Please. Participate in vendor demonstrations. Obtain consultant support to help your team in evaluating the potential fit of vendors. Assure that demonstrations are addressing the scenario requirements. Consultant should assist your team to evaluate the best fit.

7. Plan The Implementation. Review the recommended implementation plan. Some negotiation is required at this point.

8. Support Project Management. Have consultant provide interface between your company software implementation team and the vendor. The consultant should support the implementation of best practices.

Final advice

The selection process must put you in control over the software vendor by assuring the proposed solution meets the process scenarios, and the consultant can help maintain that delicate balance of power. A selection process typically can be completed within an eight-to-ten-week window. Utilize consultants that are able to integrate business understanding with the value creation associated with information systems. Make sure the funds are spent on the right things, which translates to software delivery rather than consulting evaluations.

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If you are open to a conversation about an ERP system, improving manufacturing workflow, or how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help your team, including pricing and the science behind the tests, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com and our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

David Shaffer, who heads up the full-service business consulting ERP practice at Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, is recognized for his ability to effectively integrate all aspects of the business, including financial management, information systems, infrastructure, and operations. David assists companies from executive strategic planning through operational and business process improvement opportunities to the selection and integration of management information systems solutions. His range of company support includes start-ups through Fortune 500.

In addition to a full-service Business Consulting Division, Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, sales and customer service training, negotiations training, interpersonal communication, stress and time management, and leadership training.

To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code, Cracking the Business Code, and Cracking the High-Performance Team Code, please go to: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Preventing Burnout in Today’s Environment

By Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC

Could employee burnout impact your company?

Burnout that causes companies to lose great employees occurs when your workers experience too much stress for a prolonged period. The employee is left feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. Not only that, your employees are less productive at work, show reduced concern for others, and are more likely to miss work.

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Burnout is no doubt tied to stress, and workers in the United States are some of the most stressed employees in the world. That’s according to the 2022 Gallup State of the Global Workplace report, which captures how people are feeling about work and their life.

Surprising statistic: U.S. and Canadian workers, whose survey data are combined in Gallup’s research, ranked highest for daily stress levels of all groups surveyed. Some 57% of U.S. and Canadian workers reported feeling stress on a daily basis, up by eight percentage points from the year prior and compared with 43% of people who feel that way globally, according to Gallup’s 2021 report.

Too much stress at work and home leads to burnout, which can be defined as lower psychological and physical wellbeing, as well as dissatisfaction, and employee turnover.

This stress spike isn’t surprising to Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief workplace scientist, who told CNBC that “rates of daily stress, worry, sadness and anger have been trending upward for American workers since 2009. Concerns over the virus, sickness, financial insecurity and racial trauma all contributed to added stress during the pandemic.”

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There is also a side effect called “quiet quitting.”

According to the newsletter The Daily Skimm, quiet quitting is “when employees quit going above and beyond what they’re paid to do. The pandemic blurred the lines between home and work — leading to burnout. And many have felt stretched thin by doing more than one person’s job, especially during The Great Resignation. On top of that, employees have become frustrated with the lack of growth opportunities and little pay.”

Quiet quitters are still doing their jobs, but common side effects of quiet quitting include: no more staying late after work, no more attending events like virtual lunches, and no more doing anything beyond the job description.

How To Spot Burnout

“Burnout looks like extreme exhaustion paired with low engagement, high hopelessness, poor motivation and limited efficacy,” says Colorado therapist Carrie Johansson, PhD, author of the book Self Help On The Go.

Helping companies prevent employee burnout is a critical element to employee retention and performance, says Johansson.

“Balancing challenge with breaks, prioritizing values and purpose in work, and encouraging employee autonomy all help keep employees engaged and motivated to perform,” says Johansson. “Employees should be encouraged to use cycles of effort interspersed with rest, to have systematic self-care strategies in place and to connect with fellow employees to stay actively engaged and connected in their work.”

Doug Clute takes a pragmatic view of burnout. Clute is a human capital consultant who provides Lighthouse Consulting Services clients with his insight accumulated in over 30 years as a human capital management executive within four different industries on an international scale.

“Typically, there is a bit of cynicism on the part of the employee when they’re experiencing burnout,” says Clute. “The employee’s mindset is: ‘I’m working so hard, but what difference does it make? Whether I do a good job or not, I don’t see how my role is connected to the bigger whole.’”

Clute says the misalignment piece of the puzzle needs to be addressed.

“Sometimes it’s important for companies to create what I like to call it a buddy system,” says Clute.

Clute says oftentimes new employees get assigned a sponsor for a couple months. They have lunch, touch base, but eventually that relationship dissipates after 90 days. Assigning employees in danger of burnout with a buddy could retain a great employee.

“The buddy must be a friend as well that can hold the employee in check when they’re too invested at work and are turning a blind eye or not paying much attention to their personal life,” says Clute.

The field of neuropsychology offers other clues on how to assist employees struggling with quiet quitting or burnout.

“Combating burnout sometimes means not following common success advice,” says neuropsychologist Steve Swavely, PhD, author of the upcoming book Optimal Team Performance. “For example, ‘Eat your frog first thing’ is an adage about tackling your toughest challenges first thing in the morning. It has some merit, but not if you’re combating burnout. A better approach is to tackle some small challenges early to experience the satisfaction of success. This causes the brain to release a host of neurochemicals that lift your mood, and your capacity to tackle more difficult challenges. Save the frog for lunch.”

What Can Employers Do

“We are working on one engagement right now with an organization where they brought us in to help a junior leader develop their leadership skills and learn how to balance their life,” says Patty Crabtree, a senior consultant with Lighthouse Consulting Services. “This junior leader over commits to everything and says yes to everything. The company brought us in to help that person understand how to put boundaries in place, which is really critical. The senior leadership team wants to grow this individual so that they can step up in their role.“

Without this coaching, it is easy to see how this junior leader with great potential could be lost to burnout.

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“The big lesson here is that as the world moves more and more toward this virtual remote environment, leaders need to be more thoughtful in the way they engage their staff,” says Crabtree.

Here are three actions employers can take:

Hire Better. Improving hiring and talent development through in-depth work style and personality assessment tests is a great start. Take more time scrutinizing candidates who apply for leadership roles, identifying their empathy, emotional intelligence and ability to perform under pressure.

Train Better. Use personality assessments for the basis of team building. Good leaders must learn how to shield employees from unnecessary stress. Sometimes through training we discover we hired the right employee for the wrong job. Understanding preferred work styles goes a long way to improving retention and productivity and decreasing burnout and quiet quitting.

Communicate Better. In-depth work style and personality assessments give managers and employees a common language about how they like to interact. When people use their strengths, they feel more competent and engaged. Staff are less likely to experience high levels of burnout when they decide on how and when they complete their work. Supporting and recognizing good work reduces stress while promoting a sense of belonging.

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As the work world shifted from workplace to working from home to now returning to a workplace, everything is not just going back to the way things were. ”That’s not reality,” says Crabtree. “When you make this change in this new environment, you need to really work and be thoughtful in designing that way that environment’s going to work.”

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your business.” They do this through the use of in-depth work style & personality assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. Dana has over 30 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker and radio and TV personality on many topics. He is the co-author of the books, Cracking the Personality Code, Cracking the Business Code and Cracking the High-Performance Team Code. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.

Correct your Sales Oversight: Where are the GAPS?

By Patrick McClure

CEOs, board members, and sales leadership are often faced with a terrible dilemma: how to accurately evaluate sales performance without having much experience or preparation for the task! Unless they came up through the ranks “carrying a bag”, they wouldn’t have the experience or skills needed to properly diagnose the efficiency and effectiveness of their sales team.

Too many, measuring sales performance is similar to Voodoo or guesswork. What should we look for? How can we benchmark our team against the competition? What factors should we examine? Are we fooling ourselves about our sales performance, just taking everything for granted? How can we evaluate —with accuracy – where we really stand?

Sales Diagnostics

Before a full GAP Analysis is performed, it is useful to perform a quick assessment of your sales organization’s Health. Using a unique and proprietary Sales Performance Diagnostic tool, we can accurately assess how your sales team stacks up against the “best of the best” in three key areas:

1. Sales Leadership
2. Forecast Accuracy
3. Drive for Improvement

The results of this assessment often result in an immediate boost in sales performance because the mystery of why sales are down has been narrowed to specific areas. Which of these critical areas were deficient, and where should management be spending their time correcting, coaching, and improving performance?

Gap Analysis

After the Sales Diagnostic has been performed, you are ready to move into the full GAP Analysis, which will give a more complete and company-wide view into Sales & Marketing.

The GAP is performed to review and analyze the current sales operational processes and performance, determines the process and performance required to achieve a desired level, and develops and recommends alternative solutions to eliminate the gap between the current and desired position. Three aspects of a business need to be considered during a GAP:

1. Current performance environment
2. Desired performance environment
3. Skills and processes required to implement the desired outcome

Gap Analysis Methodology

To establish the baseline data, our team works closely with management and key executives to develop an interview schedule and key questions for all stakeholders and key groups involved in the operation (internal & external). During the data-gathering phase of a Gap Analysis, we focus on the following critical areas:

Gap Analysis of Current & Desired Performance Environment

Business Environment and Needs
Product/Service Offerings
Market position — Strengths & Weaknesses
Core Competencies/Key Values Delivered
Target Markets
Sales Performance & Analysis
The Competitive Environment
Desired level of performance and skills required

Gap Analysis Deliverables

The original survey data is correlated and analyzed, comparison is made with industry benchmarks and competition, and the final report is prepared and delivered. Highlights include:

Develop and Document the Optimum Selling Process
Skills Required for Desired Outcome
Identify the organizational structure required
Recommend appropriate Sales methodology
Sales Performance Measurement
Recommended Program of Training & Coaching

Benefits from a GAP Analysis

There are several benefits companies experience from this valuable service. The most relevant benefits include the following:

An accurate assessment by a sales performance expert with detailed findings and recommendations
All the “sacred cows” become visible
An outsider can ask the difficult questions and avoid the internal politics and posturing
The GAPS are exposed, and it is now possible to write a sales plan that will be effective.
Our methodology highlights Best Practices and we can fairly evaluate where your company meets or exceeds
Corrective actions are now effective, since they are targeting the real problems
An effective training program can be developed to reskill your team and arm them with the latest tools & techniques
Sales processes and procedures can be revamped for maximum effectiveness

When the key recommendations from a GAP are implemented, your sales efficiency and effectiveness will surge, and revenue and profitability will soar……in a very short time!

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

Patrick McClure is a Master Sales Coach, expert in Selling Across Generations and a Sr. Sales Consultant for Lighthouse Consulting Services: – Over the past 30 years, Patrick has trained salespeople and managers to drive breakthrough sales results using innovative and practical techniques. He has a knack for reducing the most complex problems to utter simplicity and showing his audience exactly how start winning new clients. During his corporate career, Mr. McClure sold over $250 MM worth of products and services at corporate giants such as IBM, Hitachi Data Systems, EDS and Digital Equipment. He is a black-belt master at selling complex business solutions to C-Level executives, and today he will share his secrets with small companies hoping to crack into the Fortune 1000. As the author of 3 books on selling, Patrick passionately and patiently serves up his wisdom to readers, clients, and audiences. He caters to both small and large firms seeking to close more business. You can contact Patrick at patrickm@lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

 

Retention Takes A Solid Culture

By Patty Crabtree

If you are worried about retaining great employees, you are in good company.

Startling statistic: According to a 2022 study of The Conference Board, labor shortages have driven talent retention to the #1 position of the CEO agenda in 2022. In its 23rd annual survey, the report reflects the views of 1,614 C-suite executives, including 917 CEOS.

The Conference Board states:

Organizations are “re-recruiting” existing employees to help them see a new path forward and recognizing the sacrifices employees have made over the past two years. Addressing workers’ desire for greater flexibility across virtually every aspect of the new work “contract” underpins these strategies…Executives in 2022 will seek to find the right flexibility formula for their business.

In other words, they are “re-recruiting” to improve retention by creating an improved culture.

Culture is defined as the key behaviors an organization uses in working together and with its the clients and vendors. It sets the expectations of how the team will work together. Corporate culture is the oil that allows everything to run smoothly. It reflects what is greatest, true and noble about the company. Who is the company at its heart?

Learning From Michelle’s Cautionary Culture Tale

Recently, I was speaking with a client, let’s call her Michelle, who was unhappy in her job. Michelle didn’t feel successful even though she was meeting all her metrics. After talking through the issues, it became quickly apparent that culture was the problem.

Employees weren’t receiving feedback from management so they were feeling undervalued and unsuccessful. Leadership kept pushing harder for more from everyone though staff didn’t understand what they were working toward. They weren’t in alignment and people were planning their exit.

Michelle had asked for feedback on numerous occasions but never received it. She became more and more frustrated and decided it was time for a change. She accepted a new position and became just another statistic in what the media has dubbed The Great Resignation.

Michelle’s manager was shocked when she resigned. He didn’t get that she was unhappy. With her leaving, others in the organization told her what a big loss it was for the company and how much of a difference she had made. The very feedback she was craving.

This valuable employee could have been saved if management listened to her and other employee concerns. Their culture was not employee oriented and this was illustrated by losing key employees. This type of turnover is painful for any organization. While everyone is ultimately replaceable, the cost of that replacement can be great. A culture of alignment and teamwork can help lessen this type of loss.

How To Create A Culture Of Alignment

Culture takes regular nurturing. By committing to create an environment where staff thrives, clients receive excellent service and your external partners feel valued, you will reap the benefits. Keep steering everyone in the same direction, toward the same goals and vision course correcting when needed.

You will be amazed at how behavior changes. Enthusiasm and loyalty grows when values and culture are clear and lived by.

Envolve your staff in the cultural conversation. Giving them a voice creates engagement and loyalty as they will feel valued and respected.

A client recently shared concerns about turnover in his company. It was a 30-year-old organization with numerous long-term employees that was going through a leadership change. The current CEO planned to retire and his children started to take over. The children had a different leadership style. The staff was anxious about the change, which is resulting in some of them jumping ship.

The CEO felt the leadership team was fracturing. People did not see the behind-the-scenes story of the transition. Key people were finding new jobs and the company was suffering.

The moral of the story: transition planning must include reviewing culture and effectively communicating.

Culture Requires Conversation

Culture needs to be a continuous conversation within an organization even when not experiencing a major change. Periodic check-ups to confirms it still hold true to who they are as an organization. Culture isn’t something you just set. It is something that needs to be nurtured and communicated.

When culture is stressed, people become anxious and can feel unsafe. They will seek out something they can control which can be changing jobs.

Your hiring practices are also critical for long-term retention. Ensuring that candidates not only have the needed technical skills but also will fit in and enhance your culture. Formalizing a recruitment process that incorporates your culture will make a big difference in the quality of staff joining your firm. Finding people who believe in and personify your values will create a high performing team environment.

Develop interview questions around your culture. Define the qualities of success within your organization and for that specific position. What soft skills are needed to be successful in your firm?

One Company’s Journey

Can you relate to this culture story of a company with stalled growth?

This company’s culture journey started with identifying the key attributes that they felt exemplified how they wanted to work together to grow the organization. Leadership communicated to staff and shared it with their clients, posted it on the breakroom wall, and even branded their email signature blocks.

However, they had a roadblock on the journey. The challenge was their behaviors did not truly reflect those defined values. It just wasn’t who they were, how they were making their decisions and supporting their staff.

This lack of continuity created confusion and people were not on the same page. The situation left their staff feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and fearful because they didn’t feel the stability that most workers crave.

This culture misstep led to a high turnover rate, which cost not only the hard dollars to recruit new candidates but the soft dollar costs of repeated onboarding, training along with the impact on staff morale. Not retaining the great employees hurt the quest for growth.

Leadership was puzzled. They felt they had a good work environment. They took a step back to reassess their approach. They went through an exercise to uncover the core issues within their culture and identified the behaviors that would lead them to success. They developed their own unique approach and updated their core values to reflect this.

Definition statements were created for each value to clearly define the intent. The values were introduced to staff with these added definitions and the leaders reinforced them in their daily interactions.

The values were also more deeply embedded into their recruiting process. Behavioral interview questions were developed that focused on cultural fit which helped pinpoint the best candidates.

Over time, their retention improved and the recruitment process put the right people on the bus. Their leadership started spending more time on enhancing their infrastructure and building toward growth instead of constantly hiring. The instability fears lessened among staff, which further helped retention.

The company began to see its desired growth and they increased their market share. Of course, it was not easy. Truly it took a focused effort to create this success and there was a time investment. In the long run, it paid dividends for them.

Is Your Culture Driving Retention?

This year might be high time to take a step back and review your culture. Does it meet who you want to be? Is it driving the results you want to see? Does everyone understand the expectations?

Lighthouse Consulting Services can help you take some time to review your culture and confirm if it fits not only the current personality of your organization but also the personality you want within the company. Together we can make sure that everyone understands the expected behaviors and how to create alignment with how to execute on them.

As your company grows, your culture may also need to evolve so it is helpful to perform periodic check-ups to ensure your culture is supporting your growing company. Schedule these periodic check-ups and fine tune it along the way.

During these turbulent times, retention deserves to be #1 on the C-suite agenda. Together we can tackle the issue by building a solid culture.

Patty Crabtree is a Senior Consultant at Lighthouse Consulting Services with more than 25 years in operations, coaching, building strong cultures and finance leadership experience.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.  To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

For more information, please visit our website, www.lighthouseconsulting.com to sign up for our Open Line webinars and monthly Keeping On Track publication.
If you are open to a conversation about how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help your team and improve your hiring process, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

Now Is The Time To Streamline Operations For Products & Services

By Tony Kayyod

Now is the time to take a hard look to eliminate non-value-added work to your workflow processes. For over forty years I have helped all kinds of organizations do just that by improving productivity and profitability.

Think of it in terms of your personal productivity. Imagine you are sitting at home, and you know you need gas for your car. Naturally, you don’t want to leave from home to go fuel up your car and then return home. That is a waste of time and energy. Streamlining the process would be to stop at the gas station on the way home from somewhere else.

The gas station metaphor is about eliminating a wasted trip. But in the business world, wasteful workflow processes are much less visible than that trip to the gas station. Historically, many businesses have learned to accept the non-value-added work throughout the enterprise. That is a gross miscalculation.

When you calculate the cost of your product or service, it does not make sense to pay for items or effort the customer does not value. When you streamline, you identify the process steps that the customer doesn’t see value from. After you identify and map the process, the question is how can I eliminate these unnecessary steps? That’s the power and promise of streamlining.

Take A Lesson From Amazon, The King Of Streamlining

For example, Amazon did that to brick-and-mortar retail stores. Amazon just reasoned that the physical coming to a retail store and the driving away with merchandise was not a value add for most customers.

Amazon started with books, but the aim was always to be the giant of all retailing. Amazon is right for millions of people. Sure, some people still want to go and touch the product in the store to buy. But if you know what you want, it’s easier to buy it online from Amazon. Free shipping with Amazon Prime made the price competitive. So, that’s the streamlining and the Internet allowed Amazon to do it.

According to an opinion piece in The New York Times, Amazon is different than most businesses. Here is an excerpt from the article “The Secret of Amazon’s Success” that ran November 19, 2018 by economist William Lazonick, president of the Academic-Industry Research Network:

What is it that makes Amazon different from other large companies? Certainly, the sheer range of the products it sells and its market power are unmatched in corporate America…But there is another difference that is much less appreciated yet has been more significant in shaping its path: Amazon’s resource-allocation strategy — in particular, how it chooses to use the profits that it earns. It is one of very few large American corporations that is choosing to retain its profits and reinvest… Instead of squandering its profits on buybacks, Amazon has been reinvesting them in its business and its employees. That strategy is reflected in spending on research and development, where Amazon is far and away the world leader.

What could you do to invest in streamlining your workflow to simplify or eliminate unnecessary work-related tasks to improve the efficiency of your processes for what you make or what service you offer? To obtain a return on investment, of course you need to invest. Streamlining processes will require the usage of modernizing techniques, technology, and consideration of other possible approaches.

Get Rid Of Those Constraints

For decades I have consulted in constraint management. This is all about finding and exploiting the constraints. How do you release more of what customer values in a process? How do you allow that value to come out?

Processes and workflows are similar, but they are not the same. A process is a set of repeatable activities that need to be continued to complete a specific goal that an organization has set. Workflow is series of repeatable activities that need to be continued to complete a specific task.

In the past they called improving processes and workflows lean manufacturing, which only concentrated on manufacturing. It was all about removing the bottlenecks in manufacturing that didn’t always allow more enterprise-wide throughput. This was all about cutting the fat and eliminating the waste in manufacturing and not in the support functions.

Principles from lean manufacturing have been applied to the world of services too.

When I worked at General Motors, I was the chief engineer of electronic sensors and actuators. In that position, I worked with thousands of people to improve our lean manufacturing. After leaving GM I have worked with many businesses to streamline because the benefits are huge.

The Benefits Of Streamlining Processes & Workflows

Streamlining gives you the three mores; more productivity, time efficiency, and profitability. Here is how:

More productivity. Employees are more able to reduce waste of motions & to focus more on the quality of what they are producing when unnecessary tasks are reduced. Employees become more productive when workflow processes are streamlined. Employees benefit when they have clear measurements and expectations.

More time efficiency. Streamlining results in better time management. Employees can concentrate on the more important value-added tasks. Data entry and processing can be done automatically. Using automation and technology to deal with the mundane tasks helps humans focus on what they are best at, which is problem solving. No one likes to waste time and energy on the routine.

More profitability. Streamlining give you more funds to allocate elsewhere or drop to the bottom line. Streamlining can decrease the amount of paper your workplace uses. This will likely save your business money so you can allocate funds elsewhere. Ultimately more sellable throughput doesn’t require as much resources since they are freed up.

Training And Onboarding

Here is an important team building question: Have you included a work-style assessment as part of your hiring process? Do you have a tool to help you understand somebody’s personality and how that fits in with the team? Do you have a library of interview questions available to help understand how somebody will thrive in your hybrid work environment?

Once you find that right candidate, does your onboarding process provide specific job training for a new hire?

Streamlining is a journey, not just a onetime process. Your workflow processes might be improved by technology, but you are only as good as the team working the process.

Onboarding is the first opportunity to get the right soft skill sets in embedded in the various positions. Depending on the scope of job roles and responsibilities, there are different skill sets needed. That might mean skills training for everything from say, leadership development, all the way to something basic, such as time management and effective communication.

Skills training across a wide spectrum is an important part of my work. Often employees that come into clients don’t come equipped with the right skill sets. I have found the better the skill sets, the better the opportunity is for them to be more productive. In addition, the soft skill training opportunities help retain talented employees by preparing them for more responsibility & career growth.

You can improve skill sets through either video conference training, prerecorded training, or in-person training. The length of time varies as does the depth of the subject matter varies.

One of the hot training topics today is global sourcing. Yes. This is mainly because of the supply chain constraints that are so much in the news. Engineers and/or buyers at many companies don’t know how to find and develop new “global” sources. This is a skill that can be taught to improve throughput.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

Tony Kayyod is a senior Lighthouse consultant specializing in streamlining workflow processes with over 35 years of combined industry and leadership experience in customer-driven turnkey projects. Formerly, Tony was an automotive industry executive responsible for directing global footprint in manufacturing, engineering, supply chain and warehousing, as well as Chief Engineer for Sensors and Actuators at General Motors and Delphi Automotive. Tony holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Tennessee Technological University and an MBA from Jacksonville State University. For more information, please reach out to Dana Borowka, MA at (310) 453-6556, ext. 403 or dana@lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

 

Checklist To Create A Hybrid Work Environment Culture

By Patty Crabtree

“I just want everyone back at the office and let’s just get back to normal,” many a business leader has said.

But let’s face facts: the old ways of business will never really happen again. That train has left the station, that ship has sailed.

During the pandemic businesses have been exposed to the possibilities of remote work. Many workers found it to be liberating as they were no longer tied to that commute or the rigid nine-to-five schedule. Now that we have seen what is possible, how can we capitalize on it and develop that world class service?

Here is a surprising statistic: If given the choice between a $30,000 raise or permanently working from home, employees at some of the biggest companies said they would choose the latter. LinkedIn News, citing a survey by professional network Blind, reports 64% of respondents would forgo the extra cash for the remote work benefits. About 67% of Google respondents preferred permanent work-from-home, as well as 64% of Amazon, 62% of Microsoft, 69% of Apple, 76% of Salesforce and 47% of JPMorgan Chase employees.

“I’m not surprised at all,” said Chelsea Jay-Wiltse, a career coach at Intelligent.com. “The pandemic provided an opportunity for many professionals to reset and rediscover their priorities. Most professionals found working from home provided a better work/life balance, more time with family and friends, and decreased stress levels. Utilizing technology to its fullest extent is the way of the future.”

She offers this prediction: “More employers will need to offer flexible scheduling and remote work options to remain competitive when it comes to attracting talented professionals.”

However, the message we keep hearing at Lighthouse Consulting is businesses want to return to normal, all the peas back in the pod. We are not a fan of this word normal. This word gets thrown around every time something pushes us outside our comfort zone as people crave the known and are afraid of the unknown.

Normal is such a disempowering word. It takes away from the opportunity and encourages things to go to back the same. But a return to normal is just an illusion as our world has changed. With all the opportunities that have occurred, why would someone want to go back to the way things were when there is a possibility of something better?

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Déjà vu is the feeling you have experience something before. For me, I faced this dilemma many years ago as my company faced a staffing crisis. As a small company, our solution was to start building a remote workforce. Through trial and error, we developed a high performing and successful workforce that cultivated a high retention rate of both clients and staff. Our culture of innovation thrived, and collaboration was strong. As profitability increased year over year, we had proof this concept worked.

As more people are vaccinated and the infection rate is decreasing, the talk is about moving back into the office toward that normal. Many leaders are inferring they will demand everyone return to the office while employees are wanting options. Some want to be able to work remotely a few days a week. Others want to work remotely full time.

Managing A Hybrid Workforce Takes Focus

So, how do you balance this desire for a hybrid-work-environment so it supports everyone’s desires?

Managing a hybrid or fully remote workforce takes a different focus. One word I like to use here is intentional. A more intentional focus on the nuances of a diverse work environment is important to continue a healthy, successful workforce.

Here are some aspects to consider as you plan for continuing a hybrid or remote workforce:

  • Culture. How has your culture evolved during this time and how does it need to further evolve to support a hybrid or remote workforce? Do your current core values fit this new environment? Is a fine tuning needed?
  • Communication. Have you established a formal communication plan to ensure all messaging is heard by staff? This would include the types of events that can occur throughout the month, who should be included in the communication and what method the communication is expressed.
  • Strategy. How have your leaders ensured a focus on both short-term and long-term strategy? What is the long-term vision and plan for the company while embracing a hybrid or fully remote work environment?
  • Management. What training has been provided to managers to ensure they effectively supervise the hybrid or remote workers and maintain a high level of productivity and staff retention?
  • Customer Service. How has customer service evolved? Has this been an intentional practice or in the moment solution?
  • Collaboration. How have you encouraged collaboration in a hybrid or fully remote environment? What tools have been put in place to ensure collaboration continues to thrive?
  • Team Building. What hybrid team building activities have been established? Are they scheduled on a regular basis?
  • Training. How has ongoing training evolved to support a hybrid or remote workforce?
  • Flexibility. Is that nine-to-five work environment really the only effective way for your staff to be successful? Is there an opportunity to provide flexible schedules that support company needs along with a healthy work-life balance for your employees?
  • Meetings. What tools have been put in place to facilitate effective meeting and encourage a healthy dialogue?
  • Recognition/Engagement. How has your recognition program evolved to be inclusive of both office and remote workers? What is your engagement plan?
  • Interviewing. What practices have been put in place to support effective remote hiring?
  • Onboarding. Do you have an effective plan to onboard new hires both in the office and remote workers? Does you plan include team building and culture activities?

“The pandemic lockdown only accelerated the work-from-home trend,” says Dennis Consorte, a small business consultant at digital.com. “In a digital age, commuting is a waste of time for many professions. If you work in retail or construction, then sure, you need to show up to do the work. If facetime is important to company culture, then businesses should consider rotating schedules where staff visits home base once a week. The key is in measuring the value that people provide, rather than the hours they work.”

Consorte says this mindset eliminates concerns over employees who work fewer hours than their peers, because it’s the value they produce that matters, regardless of how long it takes. “Work-from-home rewards workers with hundreds of more hours of personal time each year, making for a better work-life balance, and happier employees produce better results,” he adds.

Developing a successful and lasting hybrid workforce takes building a new muscle. A muscle of enhanced communication, unique team building approaches, leaders driving the conversation and showing the way with a new focus and creating an offering that is attractive to existing and potential employees along with ensuring your customers continue to feel valued.

This is like any new strategic initiative. Being strategic takes planning, focus, communication and accountability to implement and thrive.

If you are open to a conversation about any of these aspects of creating a hybrid work environment culture, please call or email and we will set up a time to talk.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

Patty Crabtree is a Senior Consultant at Lighthouse Consulting Services with 25 years of operations and finance leadership experience. Her phone number is 310-453-6556, ext. 410 and her email is pattyc@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.

If you are open to a conversation about how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help your team, including pricing and the science behind the tests, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

For more information, please visit our website, www.lighthouseconsulting.com to sign up for our Open Line webinars and monthly Keeping On Track publication or to order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”. If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

High-Performance Lessons Learned From The Remote Workforce Revolution

By Patty Crabtree

Startling statistic: In August, 2021, 4.3 million workers quit their jobs because they were looking for something better or they did not want to return to working back in the office again. The media have dubbed it The Great Resignation.

Why the exodus? Because the remote work environment created by the pandemic is a two-edged sword: employers can recruit employees from far afield, but your employees can seek or be lured away by employers who offer greater flexibility.

Let’s go back in time to those disruptive days of March 2020 when the pandemic pushed the work world into a new era. Some companies successfully transformed into a remote work environment almost overnight. But others reasoned this was just going to be a few weeks so they would wait and see. Then it became a few months. Soon reality set in and almost every business had to create a hybrid work environment that embraced remote workers.

Now for many, a remote workforce has become a way of life. There is no going back. Soon we’re going to have two years of this journey in our rear-view mirror. What are the lessons to be learned? Those who are embracing this change will be ahead of the game. But those who are fighting it are going to see challenges with retaining employees and recruiting the best staff for their team.

Manage By Outcome, Not Hours

Before the pandemic, more and more companies were already starting to develop remote work environments and were allowing certain employees to work from home on a regular basis. They saw the benefits and increased performance. Then the pandemic pushed us into fully embracing this flexibility out of a need versus a want. This also moved us into a new understanding of how to create a high-performance work force.

Managing for high performance is hard. There is an old business joke about a man who asked a CEO, “How many people work at your company?”

“About half,” replies the CEO.

The humor illustrated how much unproductive time employees typically spend at an office. The management challenge is to maximize productivity for the hours the employees work. Or is it?

Here is the real question: do you measure hours versus outcomes? If you define the outcomes for a position, do you care, aside from labor laws, when they work and how they work? Granted there are a few positions that may not have this level of flexibility, but many jobs do. As long as they’re getting the outcomes accomplished in a timely basis, an employer has the opportunity to leverage the higher productivity a hybrid work force can deliver.

During the pandemic, the work environment evolved and employees have experienced the opportunity of a better balance based on more flexibility. The challenge now is to embrace this remote work revolution that had been gaining speed well before the pandemic and was accelerated by the work-from-home mandates.

Naturally, many employers want their employees back in the office. These employers miss the good old days of easier access and camaraderie.

But do you really want to fight progress? One reason so many companies are embracing the hybrid revolution is the advantages of attracting the best talent. There are no longer geographic restrictions on where you can draw the best talent from to join your team.

Not Every Company Was This Fortunate

At the end of 2019, one mortgage company decided to eliminate its home office and go 100% virtual. The company already had some remote staff, but it developed a game plan to close down the office to get everybody working from home. The company came up with the systems, purchased the hardware to allow everyone to work from home, and created a plan to ensure its culture stayed strong. Events like five-minute morning stretch breaks leading the team through some simple exercises to keep the body moving. Virtual meetings would start with a quick round robin of how everyone’s week was going before they would jump into the business part of the agenda. The company was creative and did multiple team building exercises like virtual scavenger hunts and escape rooms.

Did it pay off? When the world went into lockdown, its business exploded. By being ahead of the curve the company was ready to take advantage of the real estate boom. Were they just lucky? As the famous scientist Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”

The Great Opportunity

Managing a hybrid or fully remote workforce takes a different focus. I use the word intentional here. A more intentional focus on the nuances of a diverse work environment is important to continue a healthy, successful workforce. Over time, this intentional focus will become second nature but in the beginning it is an intentional effort.

Wise employers are not hanging on to the comfort zone of the old structure they had pre-pandemic. The path of wisdom is to choose a structure that will stay ahead of the curve.

Were employees really producing to the level they could, or are they producing better in a remote environment away from the distractions of an office? Many studies indicate remote workers actually have a greater productivity than those in the office. There’s less water cooler talk, less hanging out in the hallways, and more focus on getting the work done and moving on to the next action item.

Many companies have successful track records with remote work. When a company I worked with created a remote work environment back in 2006, we achieved more and more productivity from our remote staff. From reduced distractions to better systems, staff performed higher each year.

Commuting to and from work can be a huge productivity drain and a distraction to one’s day. Think about all those who were walking into the office frustrated, unwinding with a cup of coffee and venting about the person who cut them off. Instead of the driving hassles, remote staff can take a short walk from the kitchen to the home office. They can feel more energized at the start of the day, have a better focus and achieve more success. They also experience a better life-work balance which brings more engagement.

Developing strong systems not only helps monitor productivity but also communicates expectations to staff. Workflow tracking systems ensure that effective assignments are happening and timelines are being met. People know exactly what’s expected of them, and your leaders are able to monitor employee progress helping it along the way.
Higher productivity leads to greater profitability.

Other Tools Are Key

Have you also built recognition into those systems so that it’s visible? People can share their successes with others through their day-to-day interactions without even having to share it. It’s there in front of you displayed in the system. Who is leading the charge? Just check the system. It is a great motivator to keep things on track or even ahead of schedule along with celebrating success.

Team building is critical in any type of work environment, and that is especially true with a distributed workforce. So, how do you encourage connection among your groups? One option is to consider is to have an element of team building built into your team meeting agendas. Set aside a few minutes in the beginning to have everybody share what’s going on or their successes for the week, or even something minor and personal such as what is their favorite vacation spot, or what dish do they like to bring to a potluck? Get creative with the team building questions.

Now Is The Time To Hire Differently

There are some other important questions to consider.

Have you included a work-style assessment as part of your hiring process? Do you have a tool to help you understand somebody’s personality and how that fits in with the team? Do you have a library of interview questions available to help understand how somebody will thrive in your hybrid work environment?

Once you find that right candidate, does your onboarding process create a connection along with a specific job training for a new hire? Are there team building events included in your onboarding process? Have you formalized the onboarding into a schedule of events, meetings, and trainings that guides that new employee through the process and ensures they make those connections that are so critical across the organization?

Here is the bottom line: Developing a successful and lasting hybrid workforce takes some effort. From enhancing your culture to implementing better systems, this intentional focus will bring positive results and keep you as an employer of choice.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

Patty Crabtree is a Senior Consultant at Lighthouse Consulting Services with 25 years of operations and finance leadership experience. Her phone number is 310-453-6556, ext. 410 and her email is pattyc@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.  To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you are open to a conversation about how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help your team, including pricing and the science behind the tests, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Time To Leverage Your Staff For Higher Productivity

By Doug Clute

In his business classic Good to Great, Jim Collins said: “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” Famously Collins says you need to have the right people in the right seats on your bus.

In business, profits and shareholder returns can be linked to productivity growth, which can be directly linked to having great people. Productivity measures output per unit of input, such as labor, capital or any other resource – and is typically calculated for the economy as a whole, as a ratio of gross domestic product (GDP) to hours worked. Labor productivity may be further broken down by sector to examine trends in labor growth, wage levels and technological improvement.

A staffing plan makes sure you have the right people in the right spots at the right time.

A Staffing Plan Fit For A King

Have you ever tasted Original Hawaiian Sweet Bread?

The bakery that created this treat was founded in the 1950s in Hilo, Hawaii and later became known as King’s Hawaiian. In 1977 the company expanded and built its first mainland bakery in Torrance, California. Its vision was to become the biggest Hawaiian food company in the world.

To support their continued growth, in 2010 their strategy included building a new production facility. To better serve the East Coast they started construction on a third bakery facility in Oakwood, Georgia. This was a project that was estimated to take at least one year to complete. Initial staffing of the new facility would require hiring over one hundred new employees.

Well before construction began, a staffing plan was developed and implemented. The plan included headcount, timing, skills needed, and training required for each position.

Success was dependent on a lot of hard work by great people. Internal partnerships between operations and human resources, as well as relationships with local agencies and recruiting partners were key to its success.

The plant opened on schedule and within budget. Since then, the plant has been expanded several times and each time a staffing plan was one of the keys to success.

Staffing Linked To Productivity

Productivity is a measure of the efficiency of a company’s production process, This is calculated by measuring the number of units produced relative to employee labor hours or by measuring a company’s net sales relative to employee labor hours.

Most successful organizations have a strong understanding of their strategic direction. Mission and vision statements communicate who they are, what they do, and where they are going. Operational plans and budgets that lay out the organization’s periodic goals, objectives, and projects that are in support of the mission and vision.

But will they achieve the mission and vision without the right people? Even with a clear mission and vision, without the talent required to support this direction, organizations are unlikely to reach their full potential. Management journals contain many studies that have found that companies incorporating a staffing plan into their business are more likely to increase performance.

For many organizations – especially one that is growing quickly – the focus is often on things like improving or expanding products and services; increasing revenue; and acquiring new customers. These are the lifeblood of a successful growing business. However, if the workforce needed to support this growth is more of an afterthought, it can slow that growth and even jeopardize servicing existing customers.

The Six Steps Of Staff Planning

There are six steps included in the staff planning process: establishing goals, identifying influencers, surveying the current state, envisioning needs, conducting a gap analysis, and developing and executing a plan. Let’s examine each step:

One: Establishing Goals. This step should largely be completed through the operational planning process mentioned above. Having an accurate understanding of the periodic goals, objectives and projects the organization anticipates completing in the planning cycle is the foundation of successful staff planning.

Two: Identifying Influencers. What factors might influence the staffing plan? Influencers can be external or internal. They can be positive or negative. An influencer is anything that might affect the plan but is largely uncontrollable by the organization. This step can be completed with a brainstorming session to identify factors that need to be considered. What is the status of the local labor market? Are there any technology changes that will impact productivity? Are local competitors growing or laying off staff? Are there any facility constraints such as office space limitations?

Three: Surveying the Current State. What is the state of the organization’s current staff? What expertise does each staff member have? Are there employees who are likely to leave for personal reasons or retirement? What employees are likely to be promoted into different roles? Are there poor performers who may need to improve or be replaced? While this step includes a listing of headcount, the main objective is to create an inventory of skill sets, competencies, and availability of the current staff.

Four: Envisioning Future Needs. To reach the organizational goals and complete the projects identified in step one, what skills, competencies, and staffing will be required? It is best to complete this step with the mindset of building the staff from scratch. This will help identify requirements without being overly influenced by the current state. Will the goals and projects require new competencies? Will additional staff be needed? Will staffing need to change during the year? Would using contractors or outside expertise be a good fit to meet short term needs?

Five: Conducting a Gap Analysis. What is missing between the current state and projected needs to accomplish the organization’s goals? Is additional training needed? What would be the timing of any new training? Do you need to add staff? In what positions, when will they be needed, how long will it take to recruit and onboard? Are current staff in the correct roles, or would reassignment make better use of their skills.

Six: Developing and Implementing the Plan. With the insight and information developed through this process the organization can now build a plan to successfully support their goals and projects. Planning for needed training, recruitment of staff additions and backfilling departures, use of outside expertise, etc. This plan will include actions as well as timing. The ultimate impact the plan has on the organization is dependent on an effective implementation and follow up. Committing to periodic updates and review will keep the plan on pace.

Let The Process Flow

This overview references six separate steps in the process. In concept the process follows the logical thought flow. However, in practice steps may overlap. The staff planning process can include as few or as many individuals as needed. Staffing plans can be created in any format that is comfortable to the organization. What is important is that the plan includes the relevant information in a format that is easy to understand and actionable.

Here is a thought to guide the plan. In the words of Lawrence Bossidy of General Electric: “I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.”

The right staffing plan improves the odds of succeeding on the bets you make on your people.

If you are open to a conversation about staffing planning and how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

Doug Clute is a Senior Human Capital LCS Consultant with over 30 years of insight and expertise as a human capital management executive within four different industries on an international scale.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style and personality assessments for new hires and staff development. Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops on team building, interpersonal communication, stress and time management, leadership training as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code, Cracking the Business Code, and Cracking the High-Performance Team Code, please go to: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Defining Your Culture and Hiring Strategically

By Patty Crabtree

Picture in your mind a race car speeding toward that waving checkered flag as it prepares to cross the finish line. If you think of a company like a high-performance car, culture is the oil that allows everything to run smoothly to help achieve your goals.

Culture reflects what is greatest, genuine, and noble about the company. It is the key behaviors an organization expects as the team works together and with its clients and vendors.

Culture establishes the foundation of the company and defines the qualities to be successful and help achieve its mission.

Overcoming A Culture Challenge

The culture journey for Bill’s company started with identifying the key attributes that they felt exemplified how they wanted to work together. Bill communicated it to staff and shared it with his clients. He posted it on the breakroom wall as a reminder. The company even branded it in their email signature blocks.

But the challenge was their behaviors did not reflect those defined values. It was not the heart of the organization. The words chosen were what they seen other successful companies using to define their values. It just was not who they were, how they were making their decisions and how leadership was supporting staff.

This misalignment led to a high turnover rate. A turnover rate that cost not only the hard dollars and time to recruit new candidates, but the soft dollar costs of repeated onboarding and staff scrambling to cover all the work. The situation had an adverse impact on company morale. Overall, the company had stalled in its growth.

Bill and his leadership team were puzzled. They felt they had a good work environment and didn’t understand what was holding them back. They were committed to creating an environment for growth and decided to take a step back to reassess their approach.

Bill’s team went through an exercise to help them identify the genuine culture for their firm. What were the core values that would drive their business, their team? Through this effort, they uncovered their own unique style and reflected it in their values.

Then, they took it one step further. Each value was clearly defined to communicate what it meant to the organization. Definition statements were created for each value to describe its intent. These enhanced values were shared with staff and communicated on a regular basis. Leadership reinforced them in their daily interactions.

The updated values were also more deeply embedded into their recruiting process. Behavioral interview questions were developed that focused on cultural fit which helped pinpoint the best candidates.

Over time, Bill’s company’s turnover was reduced by more than 50%. The recruitment process brought the right people to the team. Bill and his leadership team were successfully enhancing their infrastructure and teamwork which drove the growth.

Nurturing the culture and creating a stronger recruiting strategy took a focused effort to produce the desired results. In the long run, it paid dividends for them. Year after year they exceeded their goals and built a well-oiled machine.

Strong Culture Creates The Power of Alignment

One of the most powerful tools is alignment. Alignment brings a shared vision with everyone moving in the same direction.

Every company has culture whether it is by accident or by design. Some may be in that early growth stage and have been chasing the business opportunities, so culture has not been formally developed. Others may have determined their values but the day to day takes over and it isn’t nurtured.

If your company is being outperformed in the marketplace, you experience high turnover in key positions, financial performance is declining, or just want to move from good to great, often these issues are a result of an unhealthy culture.

Alignment empowers your staff with the knowledge of what to do, how to do it and why it is being done. It gives an emotional stability to their work world that encourages high performance.

Be Purposeful With Your Culture

Developing that path toward alignment is one part of the process. Being purposeful with it is another aspect. Leadership must walk the walk. If this does not happen, then your culture will struggle.

Once you have defined your culture and it has been effectively communicated to staff, a critical part of the process comes into play. To walk the walk. It starts with your leadership team embodying your culture in all their actions.

Clearly define how you want to lead, what is your purpose, something that rings true to the heart of the organization. Then, live by it consistently even though the hardest decisions.

Integrate Culture With Your Hiring Strategy And Beyond

At times, hiring can feel like a shot in the dark. You meet with the candidate, assess that they have the technical skills needed, you like them. So, you hire them and then 30-90 days you realize they aren’t fitting in and thriving in your organization. The situation can be confusing because on paper everything looked good though in execution it doesn’t meet your expectations

The missing piece here is understanding that person’s values and how it fits into your organization. Developing a recruiting process that supports your culture will help make it a more effective practice and lead to a stronger team environment. Hire people who believe in and display the values important to your organization. When someone comes onboard and does not embody your values, it can slow progress, disrupt teamwork, and cause morale issues.

Adopt Behavioral Interviewing

Once the core qualifications are met, the best interview questions are behavioral based. Questions around the candidate’s approach to certain situations or experiences.

In an interview, you want the candidate to speak more than you do. You want to know about their experiences and how they approach different situations. This does not come from asking the basic “tell me about yourself” or “where do you see yourself in 5 years.” This comes from “give me an example” or “tell me about a time.”

Ask the candidate to describe the culture at their last firm. Tell me about what worked well? What could have been improved? What are the elements of a company’s culture that they feel creates an excellent work environment? Have them share a story about how culture helped resolve an issue and what was their role in that resolution? Have them share a story about how culture inhibited a project they were working on and what happened.

Another approach is to interview your ‘A’ players about the qualities they feel makes them successful or someone successful in the position. Listen to their perspective on successful outcomes and teamwork. Use this information to build the behavioral based questions.

Open-ended questions are the best way to learn about people and determine their fit into your culture. Ask questions that tie into those success qualities for the position and have candidates share stories about their execution of the values most important to your organization.

Improve Onboarding Because Hiring Doesn’t End With An Offer Letter

Culture appears in every aspect of your organization. It flows through recruiting to onboarding and long-term retention.

The opportunity to instill your culture with a new team member is through a detailed onboarding process that reinforces your culture and expectations along with training on the systems and job specific tasks.

Many times, a company will bring someone in, have them complete the necessary paperwork, give them a quick tour, show them their desk, give them a quick overview and set them loose. This approach is a lost opportunity.

Developing a mapped-out onboarding process that includes learning about the organization, its culture, the different departments, and developing relationships along with the necessary job specific training can set a great foundation for success.

It helps create connection and enhance engagement. A well thought out onboarding process connects new hires to every aspect of the organization along with developing relationships throughout the firm. Many new hires express gratitude for this investment in their success.

Here Is The Bottom Line

Culture takes regular nurturing. Commit to creating an environment where staff will thrive, clients will receive excellent service and your external partners will feel valued and you will reap the benefits. Keep steering everyone in the same direction, toward the same goals and vision course correcting when needed.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC, has a team of inter-disciplinary specialists ready to help raise the effectiveness of critical functions within the organization, such as Sales, Customer Service, Operations, and IT. From team building to implementing cybersecurity technology, LCS consultants are uniquely suited to advise small, mid-sized and global companies. We can assist with in-depth workstyle and personality assessments along with skills testing for new hire candidates at all levels within an organization. Each is a former business executive with extensive strategic and tactical skills. Our consultants are poised to provide, on short notice, highly personalized and cost-effective guidance and tools to boost the performance of a department or organization. For additional information please email danab@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021

Patty Crabtree is a Senior Consultant at Lighthouse Consulting Services with 25 years of operations and finance leadership experience along with building a successful remote workforce. She has extensive experience in successfully leading and growing teams. She was instrumental in the development of an operations infrastructure that resulted in consistent increased profits and employee engagement. Patty has also effectively navigated the challenges of change management in the ever-changing business world.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.  To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Improving Your Odds For A Successful Manufacturing Workflow Strategy

By David Shaffer

When it comes to succeeding with manufacturing workflow, we are drowning in data but starved for wisdom.

That thought was first put forth by futurist John Naisbitt 40 years ago in his classic book Megatrends. Naisbitt the futurist was indeed a prophet.

His prophecy is true because today even with the ever-expanding use of technology, there is an overabundance of data. The challenge is to disseminate that data into information that can be acted upon to achieve the organization’s mission.

The overall mission and foundation of business today, as it was 40 years ago and undoubtedly will be true 40 years hence, is to maximize customer service. Today this is also referred to as the customer experience.

Great business thinkers like the late Peter Drucker said that without customers, there is no business. Giving the customers what they want, when they want it and how they want it is an ongoing challenge. Simply put, keeping the customer satisfied requires improved manufacturing workflow.

Because improving your manufacturing workflow is about keeping the customer satisfied, the best manufacturers are obsessed with it. These organization’s want to make themselves as easy as possible to work with from a supply chain, distribution and services standpoint. The good news is applications including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) have greatly improved manufacturing workflow.

However, almost daily you can read or hear of information systems like ERP not fulfilling manufacturing workflow expectations established at the time of acquisition. In fact, despite the most diligent efforts in defining requirements, evaluating options and selecting systems, the probability of higher-than-expected investments and system implementation issues are extremely high.

If it sounds like the odds are stacked against you, there are ways to improve your odds. ERP needs to be seen as an investment, rather than an expense, and therefore you must find ways to maximize the return on investment (ROI).

How To Improve ROI

Improving your manufacturing workplace is a bet, a gamble, a wager. Author Damon Runyon once said: “The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.”

No business plans to lose its bet on ERP. It is fair to assume that all participants in the implementation of technology are focused upon improved manufacturing workflow results for their individual and collective departments. The aggregate of these improved results should be focused on, and result in, improved results for the company as a whole.

Specifically, a concise definition of measuring improved results as a positive gain in the implementation of technology. If there is nothing to gain then there is obviously no reason to change.

If you want the biggest gain, bet on quality. To all organizations, quality is what is expected. To that end, in the absence of standard operating procedures, the result is variation in process and by definition; variation is the enemy of quality. By determining the least wasteful method of performing a task, quality is improved, cost is reduced and on-time delivery is the final result. By performing a task the same way each time assures consistency and eliminates variation.

As workflows are identified and the standard operating procedures are put in place, the success of these procedures will be directly determined by how effective an organization is at answering the following questions:

• What are the required inputs?
• How were you trained?
• What do you do?
• How do you know your output is good?
• What feedback do you receive?
• Who are your customers?
• What keeps you from doing error-free work?
• What can be done to make your job easier?
• What would you change as the manager?

It is hopefully fair to assume that all employees want to do a good job and would rather do an activity right the first time and not be faced with rework or quality issues. Standard operating procedures, as information or product, are passed from one group to another allowing for consistency in both input and output, resulting in improved quality and happy customers. That is a winning parlay.

Those Pesky Competitors

For a significant number of businesses however, changes are dictated externally by competition, customers, and vendors and for publicly traded companies, possibly the shareholders. This external pressure, when coupled with potentially internal conflicting goals tends to increase anxiety levels and can further contribute to poor system selection and/or utilization. How often is it heard that if we don’t change we will lose? The Internet and e-commerce are recent examples of technology forcing many businesses to react.

One of the ways businesses have tried to deal with change and the expected pressures is through strategic planning. When done correctly, and shared appropriately throughout the organization, the strategic plan becomes a roadmap and a source of reference throughout the year. By establishing a Target Operating Model (TOM) that reflects the strategic plan, the selection of the appropriate ERP can be measured against its alignment with the TOM along with value derived.

Procedures And Policies Are Linked To ROI

It is assumed that the procedures and policies associated with a new system will be integrated as part of the implementation process. Vendors of technology and software will do their best to provide the appropriate operational training however are not generally in the business of assuring that the organizational infrastructure can absorb the change. That is left to the management and implementation team.

Recognizing that a new system carries risk as well as rewards, the management team is functioning under its’ own level of pressure and may not be the best in soothing the concerns, issues and change being felt by the employees. The good intentions associated with the new system may indeed be counterproductive without the corresponding balancing of the attitudes, goals, objectives and concerns of the people that comprise the organization.

Implementing The Strategy

Regardless of the status of the current information technology, that is utilizing an existing system or entering into the selection process of a new one, it is essential that the TOM and value to be derived are clearly defined. That is, just how will we as an organization measure the ERP value and, equally important, how will our customers measure us to decide if we are in fact successful in implementing our strategy. In addition to this measurement is the strategic plan. It must be reflective of where we want the business to be and how we will measure our success.

Finally, the integration of technology and infrastructure are essential to maintaining the balance of maximizing customer service. We must place equal emphasis on understanding and implementing positive attitude as we are in implementing technology.

Defining and achieving improved results is critical to the on-going success of most businesses. To invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in technology and systems without recognizing that tools are only as good as the operator is a formula for disappointment. It has been said that the majority.

Monitor And Communicate Progress

Many organizations struggle with the implementation of key initiatives; accountability is frequently a major stumbling block. By assigning Project Managers and the consistent use of project chartering, project plans can be well defined, resourced and monitored. The aggregate results of the charters collectively address the implementation of defined key initiatives. It is customary that on a weekly basis, each Project Manager reports the status of their charter so that combined project plans are managed by a single source. That is, for quality and consistency the overall progress of the initiatives is maintained in a central repository accessible to the entire management & leadership team.

There are many ways to distill strategic planning into execution. Chartering is a great way to focus on execution while creating accountability & buy-in throughout the process.

If you are open to a conversation about improving manufacturing workflow or how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help your team, including pricing and the science behind the tests, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021

David Shaffer, Senior Consultant with Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC, is recognized for his ability to effectively integrate all aspects of business including financial management, information systems, infrastructure, sales management, sales strategies and operations. David assists companies from executive strategic planning through operational and business process improvement opportunities to the selection and integration of management information systems solutions. His range of company support includes start up through Fortune 500.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress and time management, leadership training as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code, Cracking the Business Code, and Cracking the High-Performance Team Code, please go to: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.