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.

by thisisengineering-raeng

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.

by jonathan kemper

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.

by alexanderstein

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.

by Campaign Creators

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.

The Power of 360 Assessments In the Evolving Workplace

By Patty Crabtree, Sr. Consultant

Back in math class, you learned 360 degrees meant to go full circle, a whole circuit, the complete cycle, or a literal round trip. In other words, to circle around to get a full view. In today’s evolving workplace, leaders are taking a complete new full look at the 360 assessments.

by Gerd Altmann

Beginning in the 1990s, the natural desire to improve the performance of leaders through feedback gave rise to the popularity of 360 assessments. The objective was using these assessments is to create high-performing organizations by tapping into the collective feedback of many colleagues, rather than just a top-down approach.

In today’s evolving hybrid work environment, 360 assessments can be an important tool. The fundamentals of remote interactions are different than having everyone in the office. Attaining meaningful feedback regarding interpersonal interactions can help guide a company leadership and overall team training. Meaningful dialogues can lead to individual and company development plans that support the desired growth and success.

That is the power; however, there is a danger. The amount and level of training of those providing 360 assessment feedback can impact the level of accuracy of the feedback. There can also be a lack of follow through with the feedback. Without guidance from a trained professional, bias may distort the value of the feedback.

But there is a way to avoid this feedback peril.

Why The Waning Effectiveness?

Naturally to some degree people are resistant to feedback. We all have defenses against feedback, so the process needs to be mediated by someone who is trained to do this.

Before using 360 assessment assessments, some people are curious about the origins of the approach. It all began around 1930 when military psychologist Johann Baptist Rieffert developed a methodology to select officer candidates for the German army.

by Dorothe

The jump to the business world occurred in the 1950s when the Esso Research and Engineering Company gathered information on employees, which arguably is the first recorded business use of the technique.

Also called multi-rater assessments, 360 assessment feedback is a process through which feedback is gathered from an employee’s supervisors, subordinates, and colleagues, as well as a self-evaluation by the employee themselves. The 360 assessments can be contrasted with downward feedback from the boss or upward feedback delivered to managers by staff.

Over the years, 360 assessments have lost some of its effectiveness. This is due to many factors. Automation has taken away from the meaningful aspect of the feedback. A lack of creating development plans and holding others accountable to their growth commitments has lessen the impact. Follow through on growth commitments wane as other priorities take over. These assessments have become routine and just part of the process.

A worst-case scenario is to just grab some 360 assessment tool from the Internet and let the recipients interpret the feedback from the various people on their own. Looking for the cheap option does not make it the best approach.

360 assessments, done in an effective and meaningful way, can be a powerful tool for development. Being curious about the feedback as opposed to just gathering the data can elicit more opportunities for growth.

An automated approach limits the opportunity for this curiosity. Many automated systems will have options to rate multiple factors on a scale of 1-5, which is typically done anonymously. People can be skeptical of the anonymity and will give high ratings or incomplete feedback fearing potential backlash or just wanting to check this process off their list. They don’t see change from the effort of providing worthwhile feedback so there can be ambivalence to the process.

The Return of the 360 Assessment Gift

Feedback is a powerful growth tool. Understanding how others view your performance and your impact on those around you can make your stronger. Feedback is truly a gift.

Recently, one growing company decided to perform a 360 assessment on their senior leadership. They had weathered the pandemic, implementing some hybrid positions and were seeing a post-pandemic rebound. Their first reaction was to take operations back to the way it was done prior to 2020. This is what they knew, what was comfortable and a quick response to meet the client needs. It caused some conflict as staff were looking to continue the new ways. On top of this, they also faced a change in senior leadership as a retirement occurred.

by Headway

They wanted to take embrace the evolution, but leadership had some blind spots. They needed to know if they were ready for everything coming their way and decided to get a better understanding of how leadership was being viewed.

Using the 360 assessments, a picture was painted showing the strengths of the team along with opportunities to grow their leadership skills. There was an opportunity to embrace the changes the pandemic brought and enhance communication. The leaders listened to the feedback and heard the messages shared.

They created a developmental plan to strengthen the areas where staff felt some growth needed. Leaders saw how they were holding back the company’s momentum by not embracing the lessons learned over the past few years. They also understood how they needed to step up communication to ensure everyone felt included and were clear on the company’s vision. The lessons of a hybrid work environment became a larger part of their culture.

We also worked with them to keep the conversation alive and provide tools for the leaders to meet their goals. By using a professional coach, leaders had a safe environment to share their successes and struggles and discuss new ways to embrace the opportunities.

Avoid the Misuse of the 360 Assessment

Any tool can be used for good or for harm.

Some people see 360 assessment feedback as punitive and unproductive. This comes from how companies use this tool. It is not a process to check off the list but an opportunity to have thoughtful feedback that can support growth and change.

by Jason Goodman

Lighthouse Consulting uses an interview style and collaborative approach to the assessment. We partner with the organization to help ensure the feedback is effective and inspires change. We have conversations with the participants to elicit meaningful feedback and cultivate a deeper understanding of the individual’s strengths and opportunities. Follow up questions happen in the moment that supports a more effective discussion of their observations.

Debriefing with each client helps manage the potential emotional response to the feedback. This partnering method puts the focus on the opportunities and empowers the leaders toward growth. This partnership continues through coaching to achieve the desired goals.

When successfully implemented, 360 assessment feedback can be a game-changer for a business. This process can initiate positive changes and provide more accurate performance evaluations leading to accelerated professional growth.

When professionally conducted, interpreted and coached, the results can be significant. Without a trained professional, the value of their results can be diluted and meaningful change lost in the process.”

If you are open to a conversation about the 360 assessment process 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.

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.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style and personality assessments for new hires and 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. 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 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.

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.

The Future of Sales

By Dana Borowka, MA

Not all sales and marketing people are created equal. In a challenging economy, you want to hire people who are creative, image001innovative and can get results despite the roadblocks. After all, today is a new day with new opportunities for those that are open to them. To improve hiring decisions, many companies have found out how to crack the personality code by using robust in-depth work style personality testing. Work style assessments are a standard recruiting practice for many branches of the government and military, as well as many Fortune 500 companies when assessing potential hires for key or critical positions.

Our research for our book, Cracking the Personality Code, reveals that this is not guesswork or an untested science. Here are eight proven ways to use in-depth work style personality testing to hire the right sales and marketing people who are willing to fight for market share.

1. Compare Their Resume Against Your Job Description

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Surprising how easy it is to blow right past this step in the hiring process. Past experience alone is not what you are looking for when you review the resume. You are looking at how well they performed, what were their successes, and how adaptable they might be to the job that needs to be done for your organization. Experience is nice, but it is results that really count.

2. Assess Their Problem-Solving Resources

Is this person a problem solver? If so, what kind of problem solver? Each of us has unique problem-solving resources on which we rely. You will want to determine what the person’s strengths are when it comes to problem solving. What are the usual approaches this person will use to resolve these problems?

3. Determine Their Patterns For Coping With Stress

Stress is a force that tends to distort the body, a factor that induces bodily or mental tension, or an automatic physical reaction to a danger or demand in the environment. As one physician stated, “Stress is any demand, either internal, external or both, that causes us to mentally and physically readjust in order to maintain a sense of balance within our life.”

Without a doubt, stress is a fact of life in today’s work world. So determining a candidate’s or employee’s ability to cope with stress is critical for a manager.

4. Examine Their Interpersonal Interaction Styles

Breakdowns in communication are never good for an organization. So take a good look at the individual’s style for relating and communicating with others. How do they usually react in dealing with others? What is their comfort level in interacting and personal connection with others? Personality assessments can tell you the person’s major sources of gratification and satisfaction when building relationships with each other.

This is the time to identify potential red flags. A personality assessment can discover issues that are sometimes overlooked during the traditional interviewing process and can quantifybizman opening door a hunch or feeling the interviewer may have about a particular candidate. Knowing interpersonal interaction styles can also help understand how to manage individuals for greater work performance. A comparison of the interpersonal dynamics of teams, departments, employees and candidates is well worth the effort.

5. Analyze Career Activity Interests

Certain personality tests help you gain information which may either support the person’s present career choices or assist them to explore, consider and plan for another career direction. This is not to say you will be recommending another career choice to someone you are considering hiring or currently managing. Rather, you are using this information to determine fit. All organizations want to ensure that they have the right people in the right positions and effectively distribute these human assets and talents.

6. Assess How They Respond To Tests

You should also use tests with scales for what is known as “impression management.” This is necessary in order to understand the accuracy of results and whether someone is trying to “fake good” or misrepresent themselves. A critical element in predicting a potential candidate’s success is measuring real personality and style in an interview. An in-depth work style and personality assessment presents a fairly accurate picture of a candidate’s personality, work style and fit within a company’s culture.

If a profile does not have an impression management scale, then it is difficult to tell how accurate the data is. A profile needs to have at least 165 questions in order to gather enough data for this scale.

7. Chronicle Strengths & Weakness Ledger

Benjamin Franklin reportedly had a decision-making process when he was faced with important challenges. Franklin divided a sheet of paper into two columns, and on the left side listed the reasons for doing something and on the right side the reasons against. Much like a bank ledger with credits and debits, this simple tool greatly aided the analysis of information. Often a quick scan of the two lists gave him the information he needed to make the right choice.

We recommend you do the same for the personality of a job candidate or an employee under your supervision. Like a bank ledger, every credit should have a corresponding debit. That is because for every strength a person possesses there is a corresponding weakness. Being assertive is a strength; however, that personality can be too assertive and off putting for some people they deal with.

8. Create Personality Probing Interview Questions

So, what have you learned about the job candidate so far through personality assessments? What remains to learn? To find out, developinterview questions that probe facets of the personality you need more details on

pen on bookForget those old standby questions like, ‘Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses’. Instead, let’s say you wanted to determine how they cope with stress. You might ask the candidate to give an example of when they made a terrible mistake and how they handled it. Ask them how they think others perceive them when they are under stress. For making a mistake, did they blame others or take responsibility for the outcome? Listen for their process. Do they ask for help? Watch body language and tone of voice to see how much insecurity the candidate expresses at the idea of making a mistake or having stress..

As consultants trained in psychology, this is something we help our clients create for new candidates. To help you create questions, here are some preliminary interview questions for a candidate. Naturally, these are not meant to be questions to ask all candidates, but are indicative of the types of questions you might ask:

What process do you think helps you to learn? Give an example of how you learn a very complex system or skill and what your process was?

How would you handle a situation that brought up many different changes? How do you like to see change take place? Give an example when change was implemented and it just didn’t work out.

Have you ever worked with individuals who are abstract thinkers? How did you deal with that kind of thought process?

Give an example of when you have had to make an exception to the guidelines or rules. How have you handled that?

What was the most challenging sales situation you have ever faced and won? Give an example of when you lost a sale and what you could have done differently.

Whew, seems like a lot to worry about. As with any business decision, having and organizing the right information is critical. Work style and personality assessment testing can key in door lockprovide insight into potential hires, as well as the current workforce. The trick is to gather the information and then look at it in an organized fashion.

 

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services 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 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com

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, 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.

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.

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.

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.