5 mistakes that RUIN your operational efficiency

#1 Not listening to your front-line employees

Listening to employees is one of the most undervalued but powerful things that you can do. Not only is it cheap but it also gives you an insight into your daily operations and customers. A great example is Waitrose, Stuart Eames the Operational improvement manager explained how enabling their employees to contribute to ideas has saved them £3.5 million!

One example was an employee asking why Waitrose had so much extra space on their till receipts. The individual thought it was silly that they were so unnecessarily long and worked out how much space they could save by getting rid of the blank spaces and dud information. Waitrose listened and implemented the idea. This continues to save Waitrose a huge amount of money every single day, and an idea which they probably wouldn’t have thought of being away from the shop floor.

#2 Stubbornly relying on old tools or tools just because they are free

This attitude is never going to get your business to the top and more importantly beat your competitors! When you don’t change your tools and just tell your staff to work with what they have, it’s like telling your employees to go and build a train station with just a nail and a hammer…they are not going to do a very good job! We hear so many companies saying they are sticking with paper and Excel for reporting and analysis because it’s what they have always done, and it’s too hard to change and uphaul everything and everyone. What they don’t realise is that they can’t afford to not change, by doing this they are making their employees waste time, lose insight, and lack focus which is a disaster for optimising performance. As the old saying goes you need to work smarter not harder. Excel used for reporting and analysis is poor practice because:

  1. They are not great for team decisions and are difficult to share, staff have to continuously share files back and forth which wastes time and leaves you open to mistakes.
  2. They can create multiple versions of the truth as so many are always been sent around.
  3. They create too much admin.
  4. It’s hard to spot trends or problems.
  5. It’s too easy to make mistakes with them when you are manually creating reports and manipulating the data, the chances of errors dramatically increase.

#3 Underestimating the power of employee learning

In a lot of companies, it is common for the learning and development department to work completely separate from the operations department. The operations teams are focused on saving money, saving time and making sure revenue is always at it’s best. What they don’t always focus on is employee learning which is a huge mistake to make. If staff aren’t knowledgeable enough to give excellent service to your customers, then guess what…your customers are going to go elsewhere. So many studies have proven that the number one thing customers look for in a great customer service agent is that they know information and are incredibly helpful.

Mistake number two is that if staff aren’t knowledgeable enough to know how to do things, solve problems themselves, or work independently. This is going to slow your operations down significantly. Imagine how much more smoothly your business would run if every single one of your employees knew their stuff and felt competent and empowered to carry out jobs. This can only happen when they feel confident that they have all the knowledge to carry out the jobs to the best of their ability. This is why operations and learning departments should work together to improve performance!

#4 Not putting capable employees in charge of their own area

So you have an employee that works on the shop floor and she is superb at making customers feel welcome and ensuring they have everything they need. Do you know what would spur this employee on even more? If you gave her the title of “Customer Welcome Manager.” It is just a title but when you give an employee a title and their own division of work to manage, their performance increases significantly. This is because they know they are responsible for this job so they will be held accountable, they then start to take more pride and ownership of the role which improves performance. If you continued to do this with a lot of your employees you would see results very quickly.

#5 Not understanding real-life situations where your processes would be used

Not every employee who carries out a process is in a place where they can easily reach for a manual. We have spoken to a nursing home who had a problem with carers ringing up the matron’s office every time they had an issue. This would usually be if they were doing the drug rounds or bathing the residents. The matron was getting extremely stressed because she couldn’t get on with any of her own work, this slowed the carers down by having to wait for the phone to be picked up and it slowed the matron down because she kept getting interrupted. What the matron had failed to realise was that she had put the manuals in a cupboard downstairs two floors away from the staff, so every time they carried out their rounds to the residents they couldn’t leave them to go and get the manual!

Even in risky industries like healthcare and construction, there are always ways to provide information for your employees that don’t require hassle! In the instance above the matron could implement an employee app which staff could use on their phones or iPads this would mean they could look up information instantly. She could alternatively get an instant messaging app for business so that everyone has access to quick instant messaging when they need information immediately. Or she could laminate the pages which she knew were most useful so that staff could take them around with them. It is important to always think through your processes and ensure that everyone has the information they need for every step of the way.


Other posts that may be of interest to you:

Is your business speedy enough to succeed?

How to tell if your employee learning solution is working

Are inefficient processes at work ruining your success?

Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 6th December 2018