Tracking your company’s performance against historical data is a great way to keep a pulse on performance and profitability.  Unfortunately, while a P&L statement does a great job of benchmarking this quarter’s performance against last quarter or last year, it can’t always do a great job of telling you why it changed.  That requires more digging.

There are a few problems hiding in plain sight at many companies that have a major impact on productivity.  If your business has more than twenty employees, and you’ve got these three challenges under control, you’re well on your way to consistently growing your profits quarter after quarter.

Poor Communication

Strong communication is key in any great company.  Communication is a broad category of activity, which means there are plenty of ways to fall short.  The most commonly discussed one is poor business communication – the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.  If your company suffers from poor business communication, it’s difficult to execute anything that requires more than one team.  Unfortunately, the most important strategic initiatives require coordinated execution from multiple teams.

There are other important kinds of communication, too.  Casual conversation is important for employees to feel like they’re part of the broader company, and not just a very small team.  It also leads to higher employee satisfaction.  On the other hand, too much idle banter can reduce employee productivity and annoy co-workers who are trying to meet deadlines.

Companies that excel at communication will build ample opportunities for knowledge transfer into their processes.  They also provide employees opportunities to mingle across departments, and encourage brief casual conversations that help to build camaraderie.  They discreetly deal with employees who spend too much of their day in other people’s workspaces, making sure to address the problem without discouraging others from having conversations with their co-workers.

Can Kicking

Can you think of an issue that you’ve been trying to fix for two years, yet you’ve made little or no progress?  If so, the odds are high that you’ve had plenty of meetings about the issue, but many of those meetings end without a proposed resolution to the problem.  If there was a resolution, it was likely vague, assigned to multiple people simultaneously, or failure was accepted without any accountability.

If this describes a major issue at your company, you’re probably well aware of the financial damage it’s causing.  If it describes a minor issue, the damage is more subtle.  The issue has destroyed hundreds of worker hours, one meeting at a time.  It has deprived teams from focusing on other issues, and it has demoralized them along the way.  After several failed attempts to resolve the issue during meetings, the meetings themselves come to be seen as a waste of time, and people work to remove them from their schedule, removing critical opportunities for knowledge transfer.  The odds are high that if people stepped back and tallied up all the damage that the failure to resolve a minor issue had caused, they would be horrified.

The most important step to resolving this is to prioritize issues discussed during meetings.  Don’t let the urgent get in the way of the important!  If it’s a minor issue, assign it to a person and let them resolve it without the benefit of 30 minutes of meeting time.  Even if it isn’t handled successfully, the impact won’t be severe.

Ideally, the vast majority of any meeting will be spent discussing the issues with the most significant impact on company success and profitability.  Discussions should lead toward a resolution, which is assigned to an “owner” with a deadline that is tracked during subsequent meetings.  When people start seeing issues resolved during meetings, they’ll see the value in them and resist them less.  This will provide more opportunities both to transfer knowledge and to resolve the biggest roadblocks to success.

Lack of Motivation

It is nearly impossible to succeed if your employees lack the motivation to move the company forward.  To do this, they need to understand what the company is trying to achieve, believe it can be achieved, and understand their role in achieving it.  They have to see themselves as part of the company, not just as a breadwinner, team member, or cog in a machine.  Your success needs to matter to your employees personally.

This is a challenge that nearly every company faces constantly.  Even companies with the most motivated employees have to work to retain that level of employee buy-in.  To learn more about the challenges of employee motivation and how to overcome them, read our eBook on the topic.

To learn how WingSwept can help your business achieve more through better use of technology, call us at 919-779-0954 or email us at