Take Two Steps Back for One Terrific Step Forward

Take Two Steps Back for One Terrific Step Forward
Image credit: Aaron Escobar | Flickr
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For some people "streamlining" may be a dirty word. But the fact is that businesses need weeding out every now and again.

I’m not talking about laying off employees or anything of that nature, although the sad reality is that sometimes, even in the best of companies, this has to be the case.

What I am talking about is streamlining the way your company operates.

If you’ve been running your business the same way you did when you started it 10 or 15 years ago adhering to "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," well, guess what? It may be broken.

Even if you think things are going great, put your finger on the pulse of your workplace and open your eyes to issues you may have never thought about before.

Maybe your administrative assistant has to walk all the way to the other side of the building to make thousands of copies each day instead of being close to equipment used daily.

Or perhaps your receptionist spends most of the day updating personal Facebook and Twitter accounts while the company’s social-media exposure is virtually nonexistent. 

Here are a few things that I do from time to time to keep my business running at its best: 

Related: Revive the Balanced Scorecard for Your 21st-Century Startup

1. Gain perspective.

In business (and in life) I try to take a 3,000-foot view of what I’m doing and how my company is operating. I consider the following:

Am I putting my employees on the best path to success?

Are the clients I'm trying to win over the right ones for my company?

Most of the time it's hard to answer these questions and I don’t have a crystal ball in my office.

But looking at the big picture definitely provides perspective. It lets a leader find gaps and weak spots and appreciate areas that are flourishing.

2. Nurture employees.

If you want your company to generate outstanding results, be sure your employees happy to be there.

Renew their feeling of purpose and empower them to take ownership of their work. Find their strengths and use them.

If your receptionist is rocking out on personal social-media accounts then this might just be the perfect person to help out with your company’s profiles. That way your receptionist feels more part of the team and your business gains better social-media exposure. Boom.

Related: 7 Ways to Say I Love You

3. Re-evaluate business operations

Maybe someone told you it was good for managers to stay on top of employees' assignments so that the company can know what's going on at all times.

But, if your graphic designer is spending the majority of the day emailing a manager giving status reports about meeting the deadline instead of doing the work, then it’s time to change the way you think about office communication. Review how people perform their work.

4. Be aware that improvement is a process. 

If business life were a dance, it would have to be a cha-cha. Sometimes managers have to take a step or two back to take a tremendous step forward.

At times being involved in such a process might not feel like business streamlining. It may feel like a huge waste of time. 

But change your mindset to appreciate the effort involved in trying to raise the bar. Don't settle for status quo. Understand that some good work might have to be sacrificed along the way so that your company can produce great work down the road.

5. Keep your eyes on the prize.

I love Aesop's fable about the tortoise and the hare, especially when I think about it in the context of business. The tortoise kept an eye on the prize (the endgame) and didn’t let little things bog her down. She just knew that regardless of how slow her progress might be that she would get to the finish line.

The hare got hung up on small distractions and ego.

These snares will cause you to lose every time if you let them.

Throwing off all the unnecessary baggage and outdated mindsets that employees, managers and even CEOs carry around is the first step to creating a better future for themselves and their companies.

Related: 8 Steps to Make Things Happen Now in Your Business