August 2015
Tips to Make Your Company More Nimble
By Lisa Bonner

How long have you been working in corporate HR?  Years? Decades? Do you ever daydream about what it would be like to work for a sizzling start-up?  The appeal is tantalizing for those who are tired of the bureaucracy and crave a more innovative environment. But, instead of abandoning your employer, consider how you could take a page out of an entrepreneurial playbook and inject new energy into your organization.

Mark Cuban, businessman, investor, and Shark Tank celebrity, outlined 12 tips for entrepreneurs. Here’s a couple which can be modified for corporate success.

1. Sales Cures All: Know how your company will make money and how you will actually make sales.

If you stopped an employee in the hallway, could they tell you your company’s sales revenue? List your top customers? Outline key factors to drive sales in the upcoming year?

As an HR leader, what can you do to educate employees on the business and their role in driving dollars? How can you bring the “voice of the customer” into home office? One local company posts customer calls on their website and encourages employees to listen in. Many companies include staff or line people in sales visits.

If appropriate, are your employees personally using your product or services?  Recently, PayPal president David Marcus reamed employees for not installing the company’s app and for forgetting their passwords.  If your employees are not enthusiastically supporting your products, then how can you expect the same from your customers?

Each employee should understand how you make money and what their role is in helping the company make money. Period.

2. Know your core competencies and focus on being great at them.

With the economy improving, the talent war is heating up.  It’s critical to draw top talent for core competencies.  Be a shark!  Find the best in the industry, woo them hard, and pay them well. Outside the core competencies, hire people that fit your culture, but aren’t as expensive to pay.

3. Keep the organization flat.

Although we hate to admit it, many organizations have too many reporting layers and are a distorted “pear shape–very thick in the middle.” Managers reporting to managers can muddle communication, create politics, and act as a block in achieving a company’s strategic objectives. Too many reporting layers typically mean that there are jobs within the structure that are adding little value to the company. Get rid of the excess layers and build a renewed sense of accountability.

“Corporate America” has become synonymous with stodgy, bureaucratic, and slow while “start-up” has become synonymous with innovative, agile, and collaborative. Let’s start thinking and acting like start-ups.  Right size your organization by removing reporting layers, hire the best talent for core competencies, and make sure that everyone in the company understands how you make money.  Also, find the “intrapreneurs” in your organization and give them the leeway to create new products, services, and business models.

Lisa Bonner is an experienced change agent and senior vice president with Roberts Golden Consulting. She helps global Fortune 500 companies solve organizational issues and manage major changes to drive achievement of bold business objectives.



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