Emerging from the Covid Crisis

Unleash your company’s hidden performance

Stimulate recovery today.

After months of difficult containment and despite alarming and often alarmist forecasts, most Belgian companies are not ‘at the end of their rope’. But let’s be clear: the critical phase is coming now. In most cases it will be necessary to reorganize structures in order to control costs. But that will not be enough.

Tomorrow’s ‘winning’ companies must also look to the medium and long term. Transforming a company is of little use if it continues to be managed with pre-crisis concepts. One example: the freedom gained by employees through ‘forced’ teleworking will not disappear when the situation returns to normal. The classic hierarchy concept will be overturned. 

It is therefore time to thoroughly rethink not only your structures and ways of working, but also your ways of functioning and internal cooperation, in parallel with everything you are currently doing to return to normal.

And to help you achieve this transformation, did you know that your company has a hidden source of economic and human resources? A real reservoir of performance that can be perfectly mobilized right now to activate the economic recovery and get out of the crisis?

Mobilizing hidden performance: within the reach of any company

Let’s start with an obvious fact…often forgotten in recent years. The level of performance of your organization is strongly linked to its ability to maintain sustainable cooperation between employees, teams, hierarchical levels, operational and functional units. 

By interacting correctly, the ‘human’ organization develops and sells the products and services that keep it alive. But as nothing is perfect in this changing world, some of the interactions cause problems that need to be ‘regulated’. This regulation generates waste of time, energy, financial and human resources that it would be smarter to use to help your organization to (re)develop.

These losses of energy, human and financial resources are manifold. We will give a few examples, but check at the end of the article how your company fits into a more exhaustive list:

– Destruction of added value resulting from poor synchronization of activities

– Financial overloads caused by problematic operational implementation

– Overtime pay caused by shifts in functions due to a lack of delegation

– Time and resources consumed in the regulation of repetitive or predictable problems

– Over-consumption of resources due to a lack of steering of activities

– Losses in production and quality caused by a low level of responsibility of operators

– Implementation of change projects that are top slow, over budget or not meeting objectives because the strategy has not been cascaded throughout the company

More than 4,000 ‘dysfunctions’ of this type have been identified over 45 years of management research in companies and public organizations. They are also called hidden costs because they do not appear in balance sheets or management tools. However, they do have an impact on the final result.

These dysfunctions create losses of energy and means, but also create frustration and human disengagement. They undermine a company’s energy and strike force. Their economic impact has been calculated in several thousand companies. This real ‘source of additional performance’ fluctuates between €25,000 and €60,000 per worker per year, on a recurring basis.

Let’s take an example: a company with 100 employees has an additional source of economic performance at its fingertips, which is between €2.5 and €6 million per year. Amounts that could be used to finance digitalization, strengthen structures, improve competitiveness, invest in innovation, training, increase the investments necessary for successful transformation, support profitability.

So what are we waiting for to exploit it? 

An approach exists. It places people at the centre of economic performance.

While models such as Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma and Kaizen have been able to contribute to the optimisation of certain processes, they no longer meet the new needs generated by the impact of the pandemic on mentalities, behaviours, working methods and the new challenges taken up in a very large number of markets.

The future belongs to companies that have truly integrated human and economic factors into their DNA. Such an approach exists: it is called ‘socio-economic’.  

This managerial approach applies itself to supporting growth by also continuously developing all the hidden sources of performance.  The additional resources released by this approach are used to strengthen competitiveness, turnover, the quality of products and services, innovation, growth, the attractiveness of work… according to the strategic priorities of each company.

Why deprive ourselves of additional sources of performance that are just waiting to be exploited to get out of the crisis?

Experience shows that up to 55% of the hidden sources of performance that all companies, whatever their size or activity, can recover annually. Provided that the elements that give rise to them are clearly identified, precisely calculated, analysed for their root cause and ‘recycled’ into performance by means of a structured management method that mobilises all the company’s stakeholders.

A socio-economic approach gives management, supervisors and employees the means and tools to effectively manage the company’s resources in their own area of responsibility. Man is no longer considered as a cog in a big machine that needs to be ‘oiled’ periodically, but as a co-producer of added value and a self-controller of his own management by dealing with malfunctions in a way that is shared by all and in close consultation with his colleagues and superiors.

This approach is neither a democracy nor a concept of self-management. On the contrary, it brings management back to its essential mission: to look after the employees so that they can look after the machines, the internal and external customers. In other words, it puts into practice the fact that in a company we are all ‘salesmen’ or ‘producers’.  

A self-financed approach, 

It is therefore in your company’s best interest to mobilise its hidden performance potential to reconnect with customers and markets, improve its competitiveness, its attractiveness to employees, its commercial strike force, its ability to innovate and to face the competition in full possession of its resources.

The socio-economic approach is entirely self-financed. The economic gains obtained in the very short term largely finance the relatively light investments in the training of management and the piloting of the method. Experience shows that self-financing is achieved on average over a period of 6 to 8 months, and very often over a much shorter period. 

With this self-financed approach, a successful exit from the crisis on a budgetary level is within the reach of every company.  Take the step! Join the thousands of companies that have already integrated this approach into their growth and development strategy. Hidden human and economic resources are at your fingertips. 

Implementation of socio-economic management.

The approach can be started as a pilot project in one or more departments or as a strategic project for a site, a factory, a company as a whole. It offers great flexibility in its implementation.

The first step in its implementation is therefore to define the scope of its application. This step allows management to concretise precise expectations, expected progress and to define the scope of intervention, which can be sequenced over time.

Second stage: start of training/concertation of management and supervisory staff on the socio-economic management method and tools.

At the same time, conducting a horizontal diagnosis and vertical diagnostics to highlight the sources generating hidden costs, monitoring groups of projects and the implementation of actions to transform them into economic and social performance.

Six areas are covered: working conditions, work organization, time management, communication-coordination-concertation, integrated training and strategic implementation.

A specific and unique software program allows to classify the sources of hidden costs by domain and reveals the convergences or divergences of opinion between management and management.

An expert’s opinion is issued together with a proposal for dealing with malfunctions by ‘baskets’.

The dysfunctions are then dealt with through project groups and priority action plans over 6 months, mobilising workers at all levels of the company.         

The method allows each employee to continuously assess the progress achieved and ensures that socio-economic know-how is passed on throughout the organization, in order to achieve sustainable results.

The first concrete results can be expected within the first 2 to 3 months, sometimes even earlier.

Most of the companies that have adopted socio-economic management have gradually integrated it into all their structures, creating a real continuous dynamic of human and economic progress. 

Does your company also encounter this type of problem? They form a hidden source of performance ready to be mobilised!

A non-exhaustive list, to date, over 45 years of research, approximately 4000 dysfunctions have been identified.

  • Poor consultation and coordination between people, teams and departments: maintenance of ‘silos’, loss of flexibility, cumbersome decision-making processes, additional costs of strategic implementation.
  • Unsuitable working conditions: impact on concentration, motivation, productivity and the quality of the work performed, additional cost of operational implementation.
  • Deficient communication: partial information and lack of feedback to steer change, insufficient valorisation of the skills potential present in the company, fixed corporate culture, strong resistance to change.
  • Weak management of working time: recurrent loss of time leading to overtime, multiple and unmanaged meetings, loss of quality in decisions, loss of time and efficiency in strategic implementation.
  • Fragmentation of working time: frequent interruptions due to inefficient work organization, chronic emergency work with impact on the quality of work, services, products, loss of productivity, cost of overtime.
  • Deficient or uncoordinated programming of activities: additional cost due to loss of time and energy, over-consumption of financial and human resources.
  • High staff turnover: loss of efficiency, additional recruitment costs, negative impact on the implementation of change and strategy.
  • High absenteeism: additional cost of temporary staff.
  • Lack of versatility in teams: failure to adapt teams to new and future needs, cumbersome and over-costing strategic implementation.
  • Insufficient, poorly adapted or poorly used programming and monitoring tools: lack of ‘steering’ of teams due to the lack of suitable indicators.
  • Non-integrated training: difficulties in developing skills, additional cost of training that is not adapted to the needs of the company.
  • Poor implementation of the strategy: failure to disseminate the strategy at all levels, failure to achieve the required transformations and the company’s objectives, chronic underperformance of management and staff in implementing the strategy and making changes.

These dysfunctions have two types of impact:

Economic impact: lower productivity, quality problems, loss of competitiveness, higher financing costs, reduced capacity for innovation, poor strategic implementation, increased costs, failure to achieve economic and financial objectives.

Social impact: Insufficient mobilisation of human potential to achieve change and goals, corporate culture frozen by strong resistance to change, lack of staff flexibility, under-utilisation of talents and skills, increased absenteeism and staff turnover, increased costs of strategic implementation.

Does the internal communications department still have a reason to exist?

Inadequate communication is still in the top 3 of frustrations and problems arising from employee surveys, engagement studies and communication audits. This is not surprising when we see that in many companies internal communication is still regarded as the task and responsibility of the communications department, if it exists, or of HR, and is managed centrally.

However, in a rapidly evolving world where flexible organisational structures and continuous change projects are becoming a constant, a centralised internal communication model is not sufficient to drive evolutions and build corporate culture.

Why?

The level of performance of an organisation depends on the management’s ability to establish sustainable cooperation with its employees through productive, effective and efficient relationships.  These relationships inevitably fall apart and need to be rebuilt over and over again.  It is therefore the core task of management to understand the interactions within its team and to manage them on a daily basis to ensure that each employee can get the best out of themselves.

Internal communication therefore becomes a skill that cannot be separated from leadership and management.

Communication skills are not innate.

Apart from a few innate talents, we find that managers are unable or poorly able to use their communication effectively.  Not because they don’t want to, but rather because they act from their gut feeling, which is rarely sustainable.  Although it sounds easy, communication is the biggest challenge for most managers.

Examples of gut feeling management:

  • Assume that employees like the strategy if few questions are asked during its slide presentation.
  • assume that everyone at least understands the message(s), if no questions are asked
  • 1-on-1 conversations with employees, outside the (semi-) annual performance appraisals, experienced as a waste of time due to a lack of expertise in conducting valuable bilateral conversations.
  • Selling a change project as an assignment from the management that cannot be escaped in the hope that the employees will accept and carry it out as a matter of course
  • Consider absenteeism and high staff turnover in their own department as a problem to be solved by HR.
  • think that slide shows can replace interpersonal communication
  • waver difficult questions asked by employees to senior management levels instead of taking responsibility for providing the answers themselves.

Dealing with interactions, the main task of each manager.

Internal communication stands and falls with the intensity at which interactions between people, people and structures such as new technology, people and ideas such as a new vision or culture, are steered.

Examples of dealing effectively with interactions:

  • Regular one-on-one meetings are scheduled with each employee in which 80% of the time is spent on how the employee perceives his/her work.
  • Discussions with employees are recorded and followed up in detail. In this way, a manager knows perfectly well what someone said months ago.
  • The manager knows his people well and speaks to them when he suspects that there is a problem.
  • The introduction of new technology is planned on a tailor-made basis for each employee with the possibility that some may need more coaching and training than others.
  • New projects are finalised with the team before they are implemented, taking into account the input of the team.
  • Management assignments are seen as an opportunity to prove what their own team can do.

This cannot be achieved at all with traditional internal communication methods, channels and tools.

“Take care of your people”.

Our experience shows that managers can fulfil their communication role perfectly if they are given tailor-made training in management and communication skills. After all, we are not only talking about communication techniques here, but especially about the way a manager understands and directs the interactions in his team.  Our motto is clear: take care of your people, they will take care of the machines, the products, the services and the customers.

Does internal communication still have a role to play?

In the future, internal communication will have to assist management even more in creating and managing interactions.  In doing so, 20% of the communication will be managed centrally, in order to create coherence in the organisation. The remaining 80% of internal communication will be integrated into line management, at the level of interactions, where the results will ultimately be achieved.