Sunday, May 4, 2008

End the Deception: You CAN Get A Lot More Out of Your People

One of the biggest lies I hear from business operators is also the most common. They say, "I already get everything I can out of my people."

I hear it all the time. Then, I expose the error. Then, I can fix the problem.

What they miss is simple. They don't understand how leverage works in the employee business.

It's simple. First, the basic tool of leverage is the lever. What is a lever? A lever is a simple tool that makes it possible to lift 100 pounds with 10 pounds of effort. Simply stated, the lever makes it possible to get more from less. It is the essence of profit.

There are 2 kinds of leverage where people are concerned, Individual Leverage, and Group Leverage. Both are easy to understand.

Individual Leverage is at work:

  • One sales person consistently produces great results, with effortlessness, while others, working hard, produce only average results.
  • One financial person can find an error in a complicated spreadsheet, while others may study it for a long time, and still not find it.
  • One person can, in a short time, create a powerful presentation while others, even teams, can produce only an adequate presentation, with greater effort and a lot more time.

The levers at work are strengths, talents, aspirations, experience, etc.

In my experience, I have seen that I can produce spot-on, high impact presentations in a few hours, while it takes a team of marketers many more man hours to give me things I must improve anyway. I am experienced and uniquely gifted. It is a high-value ,"leverageable" activity for me.

Group leverage is at work:

  • One particular sales team consistently out-produces every other team in the same market, with the same product at the same time.
  • One shift out produces other shifts where all the conditions are, seemingly, the same.
  • One particular project team consistently delivers on time, and under budget, in industries or areas notorious for the opposite.

The levers at work are leadership, communication, culture, alignment, etc.

The Boston Red Sox won 8 straight games from the more talented Yankees and the Cardinals to win the World Series in 2004 based on aspiration, leadership, and culture. These provided the leverage.

There are tools available to discover and develop Individual and Group leverage for business, but since most business leaders aren't aware of the opportunity, these are misunderstood and misapplied. And, since they manage primarily by their financials and "hard numbers," any resources directed at these tools is considered a waste.

If management will realize that they are wasting resources and effort by not developing their people leverage, then these "soft" investments will become indispensible, and companies will start to reap greater rewards than they ever thought imaginable.

Consider the Fortune 500 best Places to Work companies. These company's, year in and year out, way out-produce their competitors, in profit and, more importantly equity growth.

It isn't even arguable.

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