By Lora Adrianse
If your business is like most others, you have taken significant action to make your operations leaner and more efficient. Decisions regarding "buy vs. make", "lease vs. own", and "eliminate vs. maintain" have been incorporated into the normal process of decision-making. The process of standard business reporting has been expanded to include "cost reductions" as a means to keep it a focus and a part of all decisions considered.
Now is the time to take a closer look, to find, uncover and eliminate the "hidden costs". The hidden costs are far less obvious to the major decision makers, and may be most obvious to the people who are closest to getting the work done. This is an opportunity to engage employees at all levels to contribute to cost reduction efforts that could impact the bottom line of the business. Here are a few places to start looking.
Meetings – Taking a closer look at meetings is often a great place to start. Some of the hidden costs: Travel (even walking) to and from meetings; People showing up late and others waiting; Lack of focus on the objective and expected results; Lack of preparation and value added contribution. If there are meetings you can't eliminate, consider using teleconferences as opposed to meeting in person. People tend to get started on time; stay more focused and can get back to work as soon as they hang up the phone.
Process Barriers – Especially within large corporate settings people keep doing what they're doing and getting the same results. Consider having every manager incorporate some simple questions into their daily business habits. Ask, "What's going well?" "What's getting in the way?" and "What needs to change?" These simple questions expose barriers that can be removed and inspire employees to start thinking differently.
Management Effectiveness – The Gallup Poll wasn't kidding when they reported the results of their study, which indicated, "People leave their managers, not their jobs". It goes without saying that ineffective management can be a significant hidden cost within your business. The hidden cost alone of de-motivated employees could surprise you beyond belief. If you're serious about uncovering and eliminating employee/management issues, consider initiating an employee climate survey with an external vendor or consultant (employees will give you their candid feedback only if it's safe). By establishing a regular process like this, and taking action, you're not only eliminated some hidden costs, but your business is reinforcing your message that "Our employees are our greatest assets".
These are just a few areas to start looking for the hidden costs in your business. Take the challenge NOW to initiate and engage all of your employees in the efforts that will sustain the strength of your business.
How long can you afford to keep them hidden?
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