Solving Gaps

Let’s look at gaps from the lens of HOW a business can solve them.

Literally, we work on GAPS. We think you should, too.

We believe that gaps – also called challenges, problems, issues, roadblocks or even headaches – once resolved, can significantly accelerate individual and companywide achievement. We see gaps as impediments to progress, and if removed, good or even great things can happen.

The good news is that some business gaps can be resolved quickly. Others can take more time and resources. Many can be resolved with minimal investment.

What resources do you need to make positive changes in your business? They fall into several broad categories – Expertise, Experience, Time, Objectivity, and, of course, Financial. All are important. Look outside your company if you are missing one or more.

Solving your company’s problems starts with Awareness, by understanding which organizational gaps are limiting individual, team, or even companywide performance.

Sometimes a gap is so commonplace, that it almost goes unnoticed or is assumed as being normal, or as one business owner said to us, “I just came to expect a certain level of complaints from new customers.” Your gaps might be about falling revenues, low margins, a significant spike in customer complaints, employee attrition, the loss of one or more key clients, or a host of other concerns. A few key questions come to mind.

  • What is causing the GAP?
  • Which GAPS are easily resolved?
  • Which GAPS are larger challenges?
  • What GAPS are the highest priorities to resolve?
  • What internal resources are needed to affect a given change?

If internal resources are missing, rely on external expertise.

As gaps are observed (or periodically), leaders and managers in your company should be asking these questions. In some instances, it may be important to get feedback from external stakeholders, including vendors and customers. If input is needed from your customers, use external resources to qualitatively interview for increased objectivity. Customers will almost always NOT provide candid answers … if an employee is posing the questions. And shy away from a reliance on surveys. Qualitative interviewing will consistently bring better results.

When the questions are answered, the gaps are typically more clearly defined. Then you can be more strategic, make better decisions, and solve problems holding you back from desired levels of performance.

Again, solving performance-robbing business gaps starts by moving from having limited awareness to having a greater understanding by gathering more information. Then you can plan, and prioritize which processes, systems, and employee behaviors that need to be changed to create opportunities for the outcomes you want.

Working on company gaps is an effective means to accelerate financial strength.

Is The Status Quo Acceptable?

Almost without exception, business owners and executive teams would say an emphatic NO. Everyone is seeking greater levels of individual and organizational performance. Whatever type of organizational change or initiative you plan – be it a strategic or tactical initiative – there are a few basic things to keep in mind.

  1. Plan Collaboratively. This isn’t a solo endeavor.
  2. Set Priorities. Determine what “gaps” most need to be resolved.
  3. Assess Resources. Finances, time, expertise, and experience.
  4. Be Realistic. Use outside expertise to leverage ROI.
  5. Designate a Champion. Accountability drives achievement.
  6. Be Urgent. Change can happen fast. Don’t wait.
  7. Be Explicit. Set specific and measurable goals, with deadlines.
  8. Be Clear. Keep all employees informed.
  9. Set Expectations. Share realistic roles and responsibilities for everyone.
  10. Work Your Plan. Achieve goals. Reassess the status quo.

There is an eleventh thing to also consider; be flexible when appropriate. Change doesn’t happen in a controlled setting. External forces can constrain or provide opportunities to accelerate the initiative.

One last THING – be sure to celebrate achievement. It motivates the next change to be equally or more successful.

Managing Employee Behavioral Change

Anyone responsible for leading and managing other employees can attest that requiring or even influencing behavioral change in others working for you is highly problematic. Whether in the form of a casual suggestion intended to motivate (softly delivered), structured coaching (with or without an invitation), formal group training or something more threatening with consequences, changing how someone behaves is quite challenging.

People can and do change, but first they must understand and emotionally accept the need to change. This is possible through top-down feedback of the issues, and open communication through collaborative coaching. Feedback is about awareness and immediacy; coaching is about action and ongoing change. When combined, there can be achievement.

When attempting to impart change, be specific. If the goal is about improving skills – possibly communication skills, closing more sales, or whatever is the performance gap – feedback should build the case (why) for change and coaching should set the stage for how that can be realized and what the expected outcomes would be.

Then, there must be buy-in by the employee and sufficient time to adjust what are often entrenched behaviors. If there are many gaps, just focus on ONE issue. Once there is demonstrable progress, you can begin to deal with the next priority.

Support change by identifying and removing roadblocks that contribute to the non-performance. Set up the opportunity for change to happen.

Remember the big picture – for the company and for the individual. What else is going on and may also need to change? Be sure that poorly articulated company processes or the actions of others are not part of the problem.

Change can happen. Small steps can conquer a long journey.