By Narayan Bhargava, MD and Chairman of Calibehr

As businesses the world over grow in size and scope, there is intense competition within and across business sectors. One of the most important solutions to this challenge is to improve the operational efficiency of the business.

Managers must always remain alert to ways in which organisational efficiency can be improved, and especially be able quickly to spot areas of slippage. They must develop the ability to walk the tightrope to keep employees motivated while at the same time identifying underperforming staff and resources. How a manager deals with these issues will be crucial to the efficiency of the organisation as a whole.

Employee morale is extremely important. Not only must employees be motivated, but they must also have clarity on what is expected of them. This is best done through clear communication channels, well-defined SOPs, and periodic refresher programmes. Training programmes should include role-playing exercises where employees exchange roles and learn to see the business through the eyes of their peers. Moreover, each employee must have access to crucial information when needed. Managers must ensure that the organisation moves away from the ‘blame culture’ and addresses challenges as a unit rather than pinpoint whom to blame for any lapses. Employees can be assisted in achieving their targets through a sound performance management system with clear-cut and agreed performance metrics.

Customers can play a major role in boosting the performance of the organisation. Satisfied customers improve the morale of the employees. Staff feel happy and motivated and will be ready to walk the extra mile to keep the customer pleased. Therefore it is important to seek customer feedback at regular intervals. Negative feedback must be dealt with sensitively so as not to make any employee feel singled out. It is the manager’s responsibility always to maintain a positive and cheerful ambiance in the organisation, where each employee feels valued and wanted.

Satisfied customers are also great spokespersons for the business. They are the ones who will spread the word about the performance of the organisation in the marketplace. Endorsement by a customer has much greater value than any amount of advertising or brand management.

Hence organisations must go all out to ensure that orders are met on time without compromising on quality. With the increasing volume of business, this is easier said than done. Managers must focus on fulfilling orders and devise methods to keep track of how the organisation is performing in this respect. They must be able to identify areas where resources are required, such as manpower, technology, or logistics.

Every business will need to be scaled up at some point in time. An organisation should always focus on how it can expand its customer base and widen its offerings. Managers should take care to see that employees do not become complacent and get into a ‘comfort zone’. They should have the zest to improve their performance and outdo the competition. The organisation should invest in appropriate technology to provide staff with accurate, real-time data about the project, orders and operations.

This information should become a part of the operation so that staff can monitor themselves and stay on schedule, remain within their budgetary allocation, and add value to the overall business. Staff should be encouraged to observe how their peers are doing; informally challenge their peers when standards are not met, or quietly emulate those who perform well. However, managers should be careful not to openly compare one staff member with another as this will be detrimental to the morale of the organisation.

Financial efficiency is equally important. Using the right financial approach will ease resources to be used where best required. The efficiency of the operation will improve, and the business can be scaled up. Sometimes managers may need to think of innovative financial strategies to overcome the competition in the short term. They should be able to divert resources from one project to another without hampering the overall business efficiency.

The change will not be visible overnight. But if these pointers are used effectively and become a part of the office culture, there will be marked improvement in the performance of the organisation and the employees. These changes will soon be reflected on the ground as the organisation starts to outdo the competition.