The Two Things That Make or Break Your Business

The Two Things That Make or Break Your Business

Like many, I’ve worked for some great and some truly awful companies in my life. It’s a rite of passage as a business professional; you won’t always work for companies that give you free meals, standing desks, or ping-pong tables.

Yes, that’s a little tongue-in-cheek (ping-pong tables do not a great company make), but the sentiment is true.

I’m fortunate right now to work for the most process-driven, employee-focused, supportive and innovative company I’ve ever worked for. (And in case you were wondering, we do have one ping-pong table.)

Working for a great firm only makes the mistakes of some prior employers all the more obvious.

But I believe it’s really quite easy for things to get bad so quickly. I don’t think they set out to be ineffective. Things just… happened. Changes occurred. Mergers, acquisitions, layoffs, the recession and all of its aftermath.

You can get so caught up in just staying afloat or serving others or innovating that you lose sight of what matters. Or maybe you’re ignorant to what’s happening internally. Or don’t have time to focus on it.

The good news, I think, is that this all stems back to two things:

Communication and process.

I realized this recently on a retreat with my department. We were discussing our hopes for the future, our goals for our department, and, naturally, some of our frustrations. But our facilitator (our president, by the way) got us quickly out of the weeds and showed us what was really going on.

The same two things.

Communication and process.

Then I thought back to other places I’d worked for and realized that the issues there all stemmed from communication and process, too.

Poor Communication & How it Affects Businesses 

When you have ineffective communication between departments, frustration grows. Even internal departmental communication can become fraught with problems. Employee satisfaction can go down. An atmosphere of negativity might ensue.

The business can also suffer as a result. Trouble from within will overflow into the business itself.

As Stephen Hawking once said: “Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking.”

Poor Processes & How they Affect Businesses

Then there is process. Process is the foundation of a business. That is why COACT offers a process solution to business growth. We use processes to make things better. To improve our business. To improve, yes, communication. To be the best we can be.

And what happens when processes aren’t followed or clearly explained? Or when processes get wonky? Go awry? Or even – which is far too common – when you don’t have a process to begin with?

Bad products. Missed deadlines. Negative reputations. Burned bridges. Frustrated customers. Lost customers. High turnover rates. Poor communication.

As W. Edwards Deming, the author of the groundbreaking “Out of Crisis,” pointed out: “A bad system will beat a good person every time.”

Almost everything hinges upon communication and process.

My goal today isn’t to tell you how to improve your communication or your business process. That’s for another time.

But I want to point out the two major factors that you need to be aware of in your business and what the root causes of any frustrations or issues you’re experiencing might really be. Simply: communication and process.

As a result, it is imperative to ensure that you have effective communication and effective processes in your business.

How else, after all, will you continue to grow?

*Note: This article was originally published in September 2017 and has been updated and revised for relevance.  

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