Are your people gainfully employed? How do you know?

Business organisations exist in order to make money for their owners, but also to benefit their employees and their customers. It is the employees that enable the business to operate, and it is the customers who provide the income on which the business survives.

Commercial managers are responsible for producing a flow of profitable income for the long term benefit of the business. The objective of the commercial manager is to maximise profitable income while minimizing costs and the use of assets. To ascertain how well a business operates, it is usual to use a number of management ratios and performance measurements to determine its efficiency.

Performance measurements may show the commercial manager that all appears to be well as confirmed by the results, but could they be better? Are there threats and opportunities that the performance measurements do not cover? Does the commercial operation work as well as it should or could? How do you know?

Performance is measured by results past and present, presented as quantitative data,
but this does not tell the whole story of how well an organisation is operating. Quantitative data can indicate where performance meets, falls short of or exceeds expectations, but while such data might hint at an underlying cause, it cannot illuminate causes which may be qualitative in nature or that originate in employee organisation and management.

How does the method of working and organisation meet the needs of employees and employers? Is the work process efficient and effective? Does the methodology and levels of responsibility motivate or demotivate employees? Do you know what employees actually do or how they contribute to the commercial objectives?

Order processing, dispatch and credit control, are continuous processes which actively contribute to producing business income. But what about other activities, such as planning, market and sales analysis, advertising and promotion? All these activities contribute directly or indirectly to producing income, but many can now be automated. Are all personnel gainfully employed, or have changes in organisation and business technology necessitated a reassessment of the effective use of time and resources? Generally, when employees are fully and constructively occupied, they tend to be well motivated and effective. However, when this is not the case, employees can easily become de-motivated and begin to game the system to their own benefit, rather than that of the organisation

Formal job descriptions are sometimes considered to be too limiting and prescriptive, but clear job description define necessary responsibilities and expectations for the benefit of both employer and employee and also enable employee’s performances to be assessed. However, the tasks and responsibilities that are written in an employee’s job description may differ from what the employee perceives to be their tasks and responsibility, and may differ again from what they actually do.

However, unless periodically reviewed, the tasks engaged in by both managers and staff can expand and following “Parkinson’s Law”, drift into areas of interest and convenience and away from the planned requirements of the business.

In this situation, there are a number of actions that the commercial manager should routinely and periodically undertake.

1. Consider the business and commercial objectives.
2. Assess the resources available, – are they sufficient for the tasks, are they organized effectively? How do you know?
3. Get all employees to write their own job descriptions, defining what they see as their prime responsibilities, areas of interest and lines of reporting.
4. Compare each employee’s own job description with their official one, and with others.
5. How do the job descriptions relate to the task? Where do these job descriptions overlap? Are there any gaps in capability? Where are the gaps?
6. Consult with employees to establish where and why there are overlaps and gaps. Seek their suggestions for improvement. Evaluate the answers and adjust tasks and responsibilities accordingly with the cooperation of the staff.
7. Ensure that all job descriptions have clear objectives and responsibilities that are subject to regular progress review.
8. Are personnel sufficiently trained to meet current requirements?
9. What training might they need? What training do they consider they need to be more effective with current business situations?

Following such a review, a reorganisation of tasks and responsibilities to maintain efficiency may be considered necessary, but change for the sake of change is generally expensive and usually counterproductive. Employees are essential but expensive assets, who provide necessary capability and accumulated experience. All commercial managers need to re-assess from time to time how well these assets are used to ensure their effective contribution to income generation. Capability is generally easy to replace as required, but accumulated necessary experience is by definition harder to replace or replicate, but is easy to lose.

© N.C.Watkis, Contract Marketing Service 31 Aug 13

September 3, 2013   Posted in: business development, business efficiency, Business Marketing, business performance improvement, business performance indicators, business performance management, business performance measurement, performance management, performance measurement indicators