House of Antiquities: Operations & Opportunities (Part 9)

The Operations and Opportunities series will posted on Tuesdays Wednesdays, and Thursdays through the month of August 2011. A number of operational issues will be addressed in the blog. For more detail, depth or individual information and answers, please contact Soltys, Inc. Comments and questions are welcome. We will post answers and responses.

Businesses that have been established for a number of years have, in most cases, cluttered their machine with relics from the House of Antiquities. These are practices and processes which may no longer be needed or in many cases actually slow down the machine because they are still in use. It is the job of leadership to optimize the business machine. In many cases this is not easy.

Recently while visiting a client and looking at their operational machine, we found a number of areas where optimization could have had a real impact on the company and potentially the bottom line. Yes, there was some older equipment that was still taking up space, like the fax machines in spite of the fact that all faxes now come via email in a digital format. Managers in some cases reviewed the electronic transaction files while others seemed to find comfort in stacks of paper files on their desks. When questions were asked in the accounting department, more often than not, queries and challenges alike were met with the statement – “Well that’s how we have always done it.”

It is one thing to accent the processes with individual style or expression, it is another when the individual’s impact totally changes or interrupts the processes. Gaining optimization means implementing efficiencies and consistency of process and really brings the advantage of personalization, especially in the areas that are not process driven such as relationships.

If we were to look at the recruiting part of the machine alone, the processes should:
  • Identify company and office needs
  • Identify prospects
  • Quantify risks and benefits
  • Process prospects who become candidates through the pipeline
  • Ensure that key events, items delivered and reminders are generated on a timely basis
  • Deliver reporting
  • Retain and associate communications with all parties as required
  • Ensure that once recruited, the onboarding and processes of integration are initiated.
If a manager or leader were to use the machine as a tool to their advantage, the benefit would be realized.

In our House of Antiquities, the owner was observed going through accountability reviews with the managers for recruiting. While the options were certainly in place for the business machine to deliver the information needed for the meeting, the managers had not used the tools. Consequently, there was no visibility to the real pipeline. The meeting was not very productive as the managers delivered a number of excuses for the lack of recruiting activity, including:
  • No time
  • Still working with candidates who have the right profile but have little need to move
  • No one they want in the market
  • Don’t feel competitive…

I am sure you get the picture. This was not the first such meeting or the last. While the managers should have been the lubricant for the machine, using their people skills and relationships, instead, they avoided the processes and had little to show for their efforts. They probably were also working 2 – 3 times as hard as they needed to by not letting processes work for them.

The really amazing part is that even though the owner knows exactly what they need to do in each case to optimize the machine, they do not. In most cases it is non-action driven by fear or complacency.

The owner as leader needs to step up to the job of optimizing the machine. It does not have to be all at once and does not mean a full retooling. It does start with the people in leadership modeling and using the machine. The House of Antiquities will slow down and in many cases lose opportunity. Putting the House of Antiquities into a museum must be by plan with time to implement changes. It does not take long before the value of the retooled machine erases the desire for the old ways. Kind of like the thought of hauling around MLS books and navigating with maps.