Inefficiencies drive me nuts. We have a rule in our office. If it is inefficient we change it. Immediately.
Inefficiencies mean more cost and wasted energy - to us and ultimately to the end customer. The problem is that sometimes it is staring us in the face, but we either ignore or refuse to see it. Let me explain a bit more.
Last week I was in Fortitude Valley, an inner city suburb of Brisbane. On the street there were roadworks, and anyone living in Queensland knows that if there are road works then at least two workers will be standing at either end of the works controlling traffic. Their job? To rotate a pole with the words ‘STOP’ on one side and ‘SLOW’ on the other. Now if this was in India, it would not be a problem because the construction company would be paying them 20 cents. But because this is Australia, we pay them about $75,000 each a year.
There's more too. At the next junction, there was a 50 ton truck delivering goods, but because all Queensland drivers cannot see a massive 50 ton truck on a bright and sunny day, it required a traffic controller to stand at the junction to make sure we don't turn into the junction, drive another 50 metres and then smash into a massive truck we did not see.
In Europe this was solved many years ago by putting a set of temporary traffic lights at each end. It's not perfect but its efficient which means residents in Europe get their roads fixed cheaper and everyone lives happily ever after.
So how come we can't do it? Well, one day a lawmaker and a Union Rep got together and thought using men was a good idea. It probably was at the time. However, in this day and age, I really cannot see how this works to anyone's benefit apart from the Union coffers.
Now you probably think I am union bashing but I am not. It is not about the Unions but about performing practices day in day out without actually realising the effects. So the question is:
"What practices do we have in our workplace that really does not make sense, but we continue to use them because we always have?"
You see, if you want your productivity to improve, it might not be the employee's fault at all. It could be they are inefficient because of the practices you have put in place which, when originally implemented made sense but does not now. With technology moving so fast you can bet your bottom dollar there are some practices that may be outdated.
An example might be the mail you sent to your customers such as statements. Most accounting systems allow you to email them at a press of a button. Research confirms people prefer to receive mail by email. So why is it that most business still spends time printing, folding, inserting paperwork in an envelope, go to the post office, attach stamps and then post the envelope? You are actually paying for stamps and envelopes when you could actually send it for free almost instantaneously. It’s a waste of time. And it’s boring. I have yet to meet an admin person who is passionate about going to the post office.
So next time you ask someone in your workplace to do something for you, just ask if what they are doing could actually be done differently, quicker and more efficiently. You might find you have happier customers and a team that does not hate their job. And more money in the bank – which at the end of the day is why you got into business in the first place.