3 Strategies to Lift the Burden
Let me share that this article is not about how to get around or out of meeting government regulatory requirements. If I knew how to do that I would either be in jail or selling this blog – maybe both! This is, however, an article that every leader and business owner should read. Then think about, and ask yourself: is your over-regulation killing your business growth strategy? Are you complaining about the limits government regulation puts on your business, and at the same time over-regulating and limiting the success of your employees?
Let me explain. Every morning I get up and spend at least an hour listening to the morning business talk shows. I consider listening to Squak Box, Opening Bell and Mornings with Maria an important part of my morning routine.
About a week ago, I was listening to Opening Bell and they were discussing government regulation and the negative impact it has on business growth. They stated that running a business today is challenging enough and that over-regulation just makes it worse. Their discussion focused on how the increases in competition and the pace of change today (while tough enough) pale in comparison to the constant burden of increasing government regulation.
I listened as the panelists discussed how government regulation stifles business growth and expansion, and how it actually disincentivizes business owners to expand or hire. This sounded very similar to a lot of conversations I have with employees working in companies today. When asked what limits productivity, decreases efficiency and negatively impacts the bottom line, employees often say it is the rules and over-regulation set by leadership.
Okay, they do not actually use the term over-regulation, and instead use terms such as micro-management, top-down leadership, overly processed, and controlling, but it all means the same thing. This type of leadership results in low morale, decreased productivity, and less than stellar bottom line profits. So it made me wonder, could it be possible that as leaders, while we complain about the increase of over-regulations on our businesses, we miss the irony that we are simultaneously doing the same thing to our employees?
It is not a secret that employee engagement is at an all-time low, reaching levels over seventy percent. That means less than one-third of employees today feel any real passion, drive, or ability to excel at their jobs. While there may be several contributing factors, one very big and impactful factor is how we lead and the culture that we create.
While I cannot do anything to help ease your burden or challenges with government regulation, I can share these very powerful strategies to ensure you lift the burden of over-regulation from your team.
3 Steps to Add to Your Business Growth Strategy
- Walk A Mile – in their shoes that is. It is easy to sit in your office or in a board room and come up with a policy and a procedure that you think is flawless. However, if you spent the time to go out and actually see how the policy impacts your customers and your employees it may tell a very different story. As a leader, you need to invest the time to see how your “regulation” looks and feels first hand:
- What does it take to get an expense report approved?
- How many hoops do employees have to jump through to handle a customer complaint?
- Are there policies that take more time to enforce than help solve the issues they aim to solve?I could share story after story of how out-dated policies and procedures are suffocating your employees, and I’m sure you could as well. So take the time to walk a mile in their shoes and see what regulations work and what you have in place that is killing your business.
- Listen To The Grassroots – if you want to ease the regulation in your office and find a better way then ask the people who do the job. In other words, you need to listen to the grassroots. How?
- Create a culture that invites continuous improvement.
- Listen to new ideas on how to improve inefficiencies.
- Ask employees how to increase productivity. Sure not every employee will have an idea that works, but the point is that you have your entire team engaged. Engaged to proactively look for ways to streamline operations, save money, make money, and make your company more successful.
- Question Everything – last but not least you need to question everything. Just because it has been done this way for years does not mean it needs to continue to be done this way.One of my favorite stories about this is a friend of mine who was doing an internship at an engineering firm. He was told that no new business was allowed to be put on anyone’s desk after 4 p.m. For months he followed that policy until one of their biggest customers had a request that needed a response that day. The request was made at 4:10 p.m. Luckily, my friend was smart enough to realize that an important customer may be a good reason to make an exception. So he put the new work on his boss’ desk at exactly 4:10 p.m. Naturally his boss pushed back because it was after 4 p.m., and to his boss’ surprise, my friend asked why. Why can’t we put new work on someone’s desk after 4:00? To make a long story short, after a few hours of trying to figure out why the policy even existed, it was discovered that the policy dated back to the 1800’s. It had been established because the telegraph office closed at 4 p.m. Needless to say, it was time to update the policy.
So while you cannot do much about the challenges of local, state and federal government regulation on your business, we can, as leaders, ensure that our employees are as open and free as possible to do their jobs. We can treat them well and solicit their ideas to help build business. The more we practice these three business growth strategies, the more our employees will do to increase productivity, increase efficiency, enhance the customer experience and build our bottom line!