One of the questions I often ask employees during my training is what makes similar businesses operating in the same environment perform differently. For example, what makes two schools or shops get different results yet they have the same access to customers, suppliers, staff and perhaps, financing options.

Interestingly, one thing that features prominently is ‘the management’. In other words, they all agree that the single greatest factor that leads to different results in areas such as profitability, market share and customer satisfaction is the management of a particular firm.

This is the plain truth. The one thing that makes one school perform better or worse than others in the same area is not the building, students, employees or other materials. It is the manager whose management skills and character determines what kind of materials, students, teachers and other resources to bring together and how they are all managed to get results.

To build a successful business, one of the key things that must be done is to assemble different people who play different roles in order for things to run smoothly.

This is one of the defining roles of a manager. As an able manager, your main job is to achieve the highest “return-on-energy” of the people you manage.

To achieve this, one of the crucial things you must do is to eliminate or reduce wastage of human resource. This is more so because apart from the cost of stock or production cost, salaries and wages are the biggest expenditure in most businesses. In most cases employees consume up to 80 percent of all operation costs.

It is estimated that an average employee operates at half their capacity. This is largely attributed to lack of clear definition of roles, lack of priorities, poor management and direction, and lack of feedback. As a result, the employee spends half of their working time handling things that are duplicated, not contributing to the performance of the company or at worst have nothing to do with the job, and still get paid.

They also waste time on unnecessary and long meetings, talking with colleagues, taking tea, on social media and surfing the internet, arriving to work late or leaving early as well as doing personal things at the place of work.

I like the saying that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing or there are no bad soldiers under a good general.

What this means is the performance of the team largely depends on the manager. A smart manager who knows clearly where a firm is, where it needs to be and how to get there can transform a group of average performers into a peak performance team that is capable of achieving exceptional results.

One way to achieve this is to hire good people, train and equip them well. It is not enough to expect results from your employees when you have not given them enough tools.

Treat every employee as an individual and seek to get the best out of them. Remember a herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo.


This article was first published in The Business Daily on 29, October 2018.

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