In today’s business environment, it’s not enough to be an effective leader. Now, it’s imperative that leaders evolve beyond their formerly traditional roles and become a true business partner. In part, this involves focusing on key organizational priorities including strategic development and planning, organizational effectiveness and governance.
“Change is coming, and you’ll need to be prepared,” says Toronto executive and financial industry veteran Robert Morton, principal at RLM Consulting. The executive, who now helps companies of all types work through a range of strategic planning, product development, organizational effectiveness, and financial issues, says the marketplace is changing quickly and it’s necessary to strengthen your operations by focusing on key priorities.
First and foremost, says Robert Morton, take care of your people.
“A talented and skilled workforce is what makes an organization tick,” he says. “It’s the lifeblood. To build an empowered team, you should work toward a management cycle that includes ongoing support and improvement as top priorities.” This can include providing programs to enhance their knowledge, improve how they work or create a more pleasant working environment. It’s not for nothing that many websites and publications have been ranking companies as the best to work for. “Every company wants to retain its most productive employees,” says Morton.
He also notes that listening to employees is important. This is because good ideas can come from anyone. Many companies have mechanisms in place to solicit employee ideas; the old suggestion box concept.
Second, he adds that organizational effectiveness is crucial.
“You want your organization to operate at a high level of efficiency. This maximizes your business’ performance while reducing costs.” This is accomplished in a variety of ways; for example, determining benchmarks, setting goals and measuring outcomes. “RLM Consulting helps companies with this type of initiative all the time,” he says. “And results can be eye-opening. Although it can be a comprehensive process, it’s mainly about measuring data related to processes, making specific changes designed to improve the processes, them measuring them again to see the degree of improvement.”
It’s a wise thing to do for any company. Among the organizations that do this on an ongoing basis are many hospitals, which can then use the findings to improve such things as wait times, patient care, noise levels on patient floors, and others.
Morton’s third area of advice is to reduce non-critical costs when possible.
“One of the areas that countless companies, especially large one, find themselves in the position of dealing with is making cost reductions,” he says. “This is one of the most difficult tasks for any leader to accomplish, especially if you work in a company that’s been cut to the bone.” In other words, one day you get a directive to cut your division’s or department’s costs by 10 percent, 20 percent or even more. How do you react?
“If you’re running a tight ship, there’s likely not one single budget cut that would significantly change the cost structure of your organization or department,” says Morton. “It’s not easy, but you might need to go through your budget, line item by line item, to evaluate where cuts could be made that wouldn’t alter things in a major way.”
He suggests considering some type of departmental reorganization to reduce costs by changing how things are done. Sometimes, financial issues can be reduced that way.