"The most strategic thing a manager can do is eliminate waste. Wasted time, talent, and energy burns money, and it burns out people. Waste lives within your most common processes. That's where it hides, and it usually hides in plain sight. It's plainly and painfully visible to the people executing the process, but it might not be visible to you.
Remember, there's a big difference between a 'transformative leader' and a 'transactional leader'.
- Transactional leaders accept the status quo, and they motivate those working in a broken system with carrots and sticks. It sucks for the employee, and it sucks for the manager.
- Transformative leaders make the work better. They want people working smarter, not harder. It's refreshing for the employee, all of them. And it's rewarding for the manager.
In a recession, you've got to get more done with less. And the only way that happens is to eliminate the waste and to be a transformative leader.
Here's how you do it:
Start with your most important process and walk through that process with your people. Get different points of view and listen to both individuals and groups.
You want to see the process through their eyes. This is what you're going to find:
- People understand that process differently.
- They measure the process differently.
- Best practices aren't shared.
- People are doing things they really don't need to be doing.
Then you want to simplify and standardize the process. There are things you're going to want to stop doing, start doing and keep doing. And you want everyone on the same page.
- Stop doing the things that don't add value.
- Start doing the things that improve outcomes, and
- Keep doing the things that work.
Now, it sounds simple, but it's not. Once you see the process through their eyes, the waste is going to become painfully obvious to you. Then you want to introduce one simple way to measure that process the outputs of that process. You can't improve something you don't measure. Then you want to make that metric a standard that everyone's held accountable for.
Final point: process improvement is an ongoing process. You've got to keep walking through the process with your team. You've got to keep seeing it through their eyes. Waste will always creep back in things you want to stop doing. New ideas will emerge that you want to start doing, and new ideas will eventually become best practices that you want to keep doing. This HAS to become part of your daily routine.
If it does, you'll become a transformative leader, not a transactional leader. Instead of motivating people in a broken system, you'll be a transformer.
And that's what sets leaders apart."
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