It's important to honestly evaluate whether your organization is inactive, reactive, or proactive.
As the year 2022 is drawing to a close, on what footing do you find your small business or nonprofit? And how in the world can you even tell?
Having to deal with the complexities and daily demands of operating an organization may be something that seemingly just comes with the territory, but in the mad dash to get everything done we sometimes come up woefully short. It’s truly ironic that the quest for vigilance and the pursuit of excellence can carry with them a very unfortunate, almost invisible byproduct. While bearing the burden of doing business, it’s quite possible to find yourself in a scenario where literally no one is minding the store.
The reality is, every organization’s approach to how it operates will place it into one of three distinct categories: Inactive, Reactive, or Proactive. This may seem like a broad generalization, but there are specific characteristics unique to each, and some logical conclusions drawn from observing how your business operates will help to clarify where your venture fits. Trying to arbitrarily determine how to sort this all out can be an overwhelming prospect, but ValorExcel has tremendously streamlined this process with a document called “Taking Your Organization’s Temperature”. You can download your free copy of this PDF by going to https://www.valorexcel.com/takeyourtemp.
This document consists of 30 statements about the health of your business, and a basic Likert scale is used to rate how each one of them applies to your organizational climate. A numeric value is assigned to each response, and by tallying the corresponding values, your net result will identify which of the three categories best describes you.
So let's talk first about the attributes of an organization that finds itself in the “Inactive” category. If an organization is considered to be inactive, inefficiencies, redundancy of effort, miscommunication of goals and expectations, and poor morale are present in each operating day. An underlying lack of proper structure and inadequate documentation of policies and processes negatively influence all facets of the organization. Critical issues are never really addressed in a substantial way, and no significant changes are implemented to better the long-term health of the organization. That sounds like a pretty miserable place to work, doesn’t?
If your organization has difficulty in addressing the weaknesses in its structure, then realistically, you won't be able to fix everything overnight. But if you acknowledge and identify the underlying problems, then you can start to put things into place to improve how you operate. It’s not about trying to tackle everything – the best approach is to find one or two key areas where you can make impactful change. Over a period of weeks and months, a solid, measurable improvement in a couple of critical items can end up positively influencing the climate of the entire operation.
Perhaps the responses that you provided placed you in the “Reactive” category. Your organization really does care about what it’s doing, but maybe you get jostled around a bit as things unfold, and you find yourself doing everything on the fly. You can lull yourself into a false sense of security in cases like this, since at least some things are working well, but this is unlikely to provide a platform for long-term success. You may still have one or two truly weak areas, and that could sometimes be the byproduct of operating for years without a clear, intentional methodology, being carried along by whatever current you find yourself in. It's a situation where not really having a methodology is having a methodology; it's having a methodology of indifference.
If an organization is considered to be Reactive, it means that efforts are made to document policies and procedures but there’s a lack of ongoing focus to anticipate the shifting operational needs of the organization. Management is willing to implement changes, but this generally occurs only after problems have arisen. Staff play a role in developing processes but are still highly reliant on management for step-by-step direction.
Teams that really do embrace smart work are ones that are able to do things in their own realm, yet always stay within the boundaries and the parameters that have been established by management. That’s where things really start to function efficiently and effectively -- when people are able to make quality decisions because they know that they've been empowered to do so. They're not reliant on continual guidance from management -- they're able to move forward with a confidence level that they won't make decisions that are careless or reckless because they know and understand how their decisions and actions impact the larger structure of the organization.
The best outcome of “Taking Your Organization’s Temperature” would be if your responses placed you in the “Proactive” category. Organizations that are considered to be Proactive certainly aren't perfect -- realistically, every organization should always be very self-analytical and willing to ask, “What can we do better? Where can we grow?” Classifying an organization as Proactive means that extensive work has been done to clearly define processes, policies, roles and responsibilities. Team members are empowered to make decisions in the context of these parameters -- there's a strong team dynamic and a genuine quest for innovation and growth. Various standards and matrices are used to help facilitate trend analysis within the organization, which in turn drives ongoing adjustment of operations to fully meet the organization's mission.
If that describes your organization, then congratulations! But if your results instead point toward the reality that you still have some room for improvement, commit to seeking out specific solutions in the year to come. Being able to properly assess how well your organization is actually doing is the first step – if you’re willing take that one, the others will definitely follow.
Want to grow your business in 2023? ValorExcel offers training, coaching, and development services to help you reach your goals. Contact us at 240-329-9387 or visit www.valorexcel.com/businessservices. In the meantime, make sure you check our recent videos on YouTube by clicking HERE. Each episode is designed to inspire and empower you to work smarter, not harder.