Here’s some sobering statistics for would be champions of business. According to the UK Department of Trade and Industry, 30% of tax-registered businesses disappear after 3 years. Even if they survive the first few years of existence and go onto enjoy great success, most firms fail eventually. Of the worlds 100 largest companies in 1912, 29 were bankrupt by 1995, 48 had disappeared, and only 19 were still in the top 100.
So how do we ensure our business survives, or in business evolutionary terms is failure inevitable? The answer may lie in the positive application of a simple management tool I first came across when delivering some training with a small manufacturing business. The director, an affable fellow with a keen eye to detail had a simple philosophy – a regular audit.
The audit was not of his stock, or sales figures, or financial, but of his staff. On an ad hoc basis, but roughly every quarter he would ask himself on a scale of 0-5 how 4 key areas of his team were performing. The 4 areas were:
- Strengths and Weaknesses
For terms of this audit leaderships was gauged as operating in all directions; downwards, upwards and sideways. Leadership comes from all sources, not by the gift of position.
Atmosphere was measured by what was thought to be appropriate for the circumstances. The rhythm of the work was not constant. There were times when orders had to be met, and tempo was high and at other times of year a more relaxed atmosphere could pervade.
Strengths and weaknesses were broken down into 3 sub categories; the mental, physical and emotional well being and robustness of the team.
Finally Relationships. How mutual were they? How much trust, respect and support truly existed. This was valid for work teams and interdepartmental relationships as well as dealings with customers and suppliers.
For all 4 of these areas there was no science, just gut feeling. But what it allowed the director to do was spend some time thinking about some of the intangibles. By pressing the pause button every now and again he was able to see what had changed, perhaps unnoticed in the general cut and thrust of the business, giving himself more chance to nip falling performance in the bud.
How much time do you spend stepping back? Could there be benefits to temperature gauging your business or team in this way?