By John Gregoire, CEO
Like most of the world, I entered my office two weeks ago to a completely changed business environment. At first, I did what any responsible business owner would do and cancelled or postponed all meetings and events for the next 30 days. Calling people to cancel resulted in a day of inspiring conversations. Each person I spoke with offered me new perspective, new ideas, and shared how they intended to adapt.
Situations like this create opportunity for us to create new possibilities. People right now are creating new ways of participating in society. If we adjust with the environment, we can create new lines of business and expanded service offerings. We can move through this experience and grow ourselves and our businesses.
I immediately began exploring how the PGS methodology could be employed to help businesses and organizations adapt. For years now, Bill Dan has been working to change the landscape of supervision and leadership through his work with “7 Questions” (Creating High Performers, 7 Questions to Ask Direct Reports, Growth Press, 2014). That work is more relevant now than ever.
First and foremost, the core foundation of the 7 Questions supervision model is critical to surviving a rapidly changing work landscape. The secret sauce in 7 Questions is creating a way to support productivity and success through honest relationship, even with people you find difficult to relate to or build rapport with. The more authentic the relationship, the more the leader can support employee accomplishment. The 7 Questions process makes that authenticity simple to achieve. Now with us adjusting to new work norms, like whole teams working from home, effective supervision is critical. How can you supervise someone when you are miles away and have no real idea what they are doing?
The simple answer is to have a strong relationship based on honest mutual self-interest. The 7 Questions method can help you achieve that. What is the 7 Questions method? It is a conceptually simple process of asking a series of 7 questions with your direct reports to ensure they understand what is expected, have the resources skills and ability to accomplish the goal, and recognize how the work they are doing aligns with individual and organizational goals.
Beyond wondering how to lead people in a change environment, many conversations I had with leaders highlighted the drastic need to change the fundamental way of doing business. How can a team of sales associates continue to showcase products to customers without a sales floor or customer contact? How can a mining operation continue to operate heavy equipment without having two people share the cab of a truck or an office trailer?
Process Advantage® is the PGS improvement methodology rooted in the same theoretical basis as Lean and Six Sigma. Process Advantage® defines innovations. It consistently delivers innovation beyond improvement by asking people to suspend their commitment to the current process and identify breakthrough concepts. A breakthrough concept is a game changing approach to reaching your end goal that may exist entirely outside your current process. This is particularly helpful amid this crisis where we are trying to define how to remain viable while eliminating contact and mitigating risk. The Process Advantage® track record of results is a consistent 20-50% improvement in performance, typically with a decrease in cost and resources.
If you are in a business that has regular frequent contact with the general public (e.g. restaurant, fitness studio, retail store, etc.) right now you may be asking, “how can I continue to serve our customers without making contact?” Using a known process improvement method and alter the goal from efficiency to public safety. Last night I ordered dinner from a local restaurant that has adapted well. They had a clear process that created a safe environment for customers and allowed them to continue doing business.
The final piece of the puzzle is formulating strategy to not only survive but to thrive in this new market. Now more than ever your organization needs a clear vision of the future with a plan designed to help you. A detailed short-term plan to weather the storm or a long-term plan to navigate to our new normal (maybe both). Planning is essential; if you have spent time with the PGS team, you have probably heard Doug Johnson say the words “Plan the work – work the plan.”
For years now, I have seen the power of planning. I have worked with countless organizations loaded with work, short on time, and exhausted. The result of a planning effort has always been decreased stress, inspired teams, and increased productivity. I am working with a number of organizations that have found themselves at a standstill while moving 100 miles an hour. They are taking advantage of the opportunity to plan. When the world around you is making a sharp left turn you must turn with them. Planning is how you make a turn with your eyes open and your hands on the wheel.
There are a number of challenges facing us now as we navigate our new normal. We can get through this together as humans have for generations. This moment in history provides us an opportunity to innovate, create, and discover untapped opportunities. Our purpose at PGS is to Realize Potential; true potential can only be reached in extraordinary moments. We consider this one of those moments. We wish you health, wellness, and success in your endeavors.