As business leaders, we strive to have each of our areas improve its efficiency and effectiveness. Accounting, Sales, Marketing, Engineering, Operations, Project Management, Customer Service – each of these parts of the business needs to be as effective as possible. Likewise, each of us needs to be as efficient as possible in getting our work done.
Isn’t that right?
As business leaders, our goal is to optimize the whole. Only by doing what is best and most effective for the overall business will we have as successful a business as possible.
Optimizing the whole remains a challenge for many businesses for three reasons:
- Politics: Being as effective as possible for the whole company often leads to some area of the business or an individual manager or employee having to sacrifice or “lose out.”
- Efficiency Mindset: Business leaders are often promoted based on their ability to be efficient and get things done. In many cases, their first thought is always to have their team and themselves be as efficient as possible.
- Tunnel Vision: Likewise, many managers and business units have tunnel vision. They are hyper-focused on what they need to get done in order to reach their specific goals.
What To Do?
Optimizing the overall business requires leadership at the top level of the company. The top managers are the only ones with the broad vision capable of understanding where the optimum performance of one area of the company is affecting the company’s overall performance.
The leadership team needs to:
- Ensure that the goals and objectives of different areas of the company do not conflict and instead mesh together towards the overall benefit of the business.
- Communicate continually the importance of doing what is best for the overall business.
- Get into the weeds and point out areas where efficiency in one area may be hindering the performance of other areas or employees in the company.
- Reward and celebrate those areas and employees that do what is best for the overall company despite the added work or difficulty it might cause them.
- Discipline those areas and employees more focused on politics and their own personal effectiveness and benefit.
By optimizing the whole, we may introduce inefficiencies in some areas of our business and with some employees; they may need to do extra, “inefficient” work. But, we will make the overall business stronger and more successful.