Help Your Team Become More Efficient
Among the more popular words I hear my clients say, “efficiency” stands out from the pack. The word gets over eight million hits on Google (compared with around four million for “mobilization”).
To increase efficiency, regardless of your rank or the type of team you are trying to improve, managing processes is a great approach. Having done close to 2,000 skills assessments, I have noticed that one of the skills that people are least proficient in is process management.
According to SPB Organizational Psychology (our parent company), process management is, “developing, deploying and improving work processes to increase efficiency” (drawn from the SPB Competency Model©).
This skill can be defined using three separate sub-competencies:
1- “Develop processes that meet organizational needs.”
The first sub-competency is the ability to develop the right processes. Here are examples of behaviour that reflects the proficiency thresholds for this sub-competency:
- No proficiency: Develops processes that are vague or not right for the organization’s needs; prefers to manage situations case by case.
- Basic proficiency: Develops processes suited to the organization’s current needs.
- Advanced proficiency: Designs processes that take into account the organization’s current and future needs and ensures they are consistent with existing processes.
So an expert in process development will tend to develop processes with an eye to the organization’s long-term evolution, in addition to ensuring those processes are aligned with existing ones. But I have also encountered many candidates who had a short-term operational vision, which made them act impulsively, as they didn’t have the ability to take the required step back to develop processes. To quickly assess someone’s level of comfort with the notion, simply ask them what a process is.
2- “Introduce strategies to get users to adopt processes, to make them easier to implement.”
The second sub-competency relates to the ability to support and develop team members as they adopt new processes.
- No proficiency: Fails to plan ways to help users adopt processes; is inflexible about adjusting processes as needed on the ground.
- Basic proficiency: Puts in place strategies so that users adopt processes and is open to making adjustments if necessary.
- Advanced proficiency: Creates winning conditions for implementing new processes to achieve buy-in (e.g.: get users to take part in the implementation).
Experts in guidance take their time to determine winning conditions to get colleagues to adopt processes. The best candidates I have assessed for this have remarkable patience and a highly developed pedagogical sense. Candidates who were weak on this sub-competency will demonstrate the process once – twice on a good day!
3- “Improve processes to meet organizational standards.”
The third sub-competency relates to the ability to optimize existing processes.
- No proficiency: Does not try to improve processes; prefers the status quo.
- Basic proficiency: Reviews processes when they notice or are told that improvements are required.
- Advanced proficiency: Regularly examines processes, spots opportunities for improvement and uses concrete means to achieve it.
Experts on process optimization constantly question processes. They have a highly developed critical eye, thorough knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the process and take action. They don’t just criticize; they propose ideas. Candidates who were weak in this area are generally content to maintain the status quo. Often, these candidates are simply not terribly interested in how things get done.
If you want your team to be more efficient, you need more than just a highly developed critical sense or a tendency to want to improve everything. You need to be able to design processes yourself and help your colleagues adopt them. This takes a careful balance between interpersonal and analytical skills, which is no small feat.