Thursday, January 18, 2007

10 Ways to Eliminate Obstacles to Success

Boosting Productivity: 10 Ways to Eliminate Obstacles to Success

Can you recall ever working in a situation that you'd describe today as the "job from hell"? If so, even if you knew how to do the job well, you'd probably say that you lacked the essentials for getting your work done.

Many people suffer silently while they're really missing the authority, training, tools, job support, guidance, resources, information, or incentives to be effective. On top of these problems, people may encounter other road blocks to getting things done. Their hurdles might include tangled communications, non-supportive managers, a lack of cooperation, unavailable colleagues, and cumbersome procedures.

When people experience these situations, they're struggling with what I refer to as "burning hassles." Companies that tackle burning hassles head-on can systematically remove these frustrating, mind-numbing barriers to success. This article explains 10 ways to bulldoze obstacles so that you, too, can get rid of them. The benefits will include a visible increase in both personal and organizational performance.

What's Wrong with a Few Obstacles?

Companies that follow what I call a "tough love policy" perpetually expect personnel to find a way to work around nearly every problem they encounter. It's the model in which people are expected to do what they're supposed to do while maintaining a stiff upper lip. Can't the folks who complain about hassles or information holes just "get over it" and be glad they even have a job or contract?

The problem is, people spend endless hours of precious time fighting battles they may not win. Even if people know their jobs inside out, they're usually no match for the boulders that block their every move. And all the while, morale, productivity, and potential profits are simply disappearing down the drain.

10 Keys to Conquering Obstacles to Success

If people have skill deficiencies -- a true lack of job knowledge -- or not enough job practice, you would remedy those through training and/or more repetition on the job. But if people already know how to do their jobs and are facing hurdles, you can start removing these frustrating hassles by being alert for the opportunities below. (You can even adapt this list into a checklist or survey to poll your staff.)

1. Troubleshoot any clogged communications that delay or distort important broadcasts. These could be dragging down both productivity and morale.

2. Identify missing information, such as incomplete, outdated, or inaccurate procedures, standards, schedules, facts, or data needed to do a job. Supply the information as soon as possible, and be sure to maintain it regularly.

3. Be alert for poor cooperation from managers, peers, or suppliers. And by all means, don't "shoot the messenger" when people report these problems!

4. Check for any absent or inadequate tools, equipment, space, lighting, or supplies. These conditions can seriously reduce the ability to do one's job.

5. Uncover overly complex procedures that can be simplified, automated, or even eliminated. The simpler you can make your processes, the better!

6. Correct any work environments or conditions that are problematic or unsafe. Do everything possible to avoid accidents and liability concerns.

7. Recognize where task support ought to be coming from supervision, job aids, quick reference guides, or online assistance. If it's missing, supply it!

8. Look for and reduce extreme work pressure due to unattainable deadlines or workloads. People can't sustain their productivity under these conditions.

9. Be sure people have regular, complete feedback on performance quality, including timely access to data about customer desires and concerns.

10. Sort out any conflicting priorities or directions from authority figures. When people work on multiple projects, this type of confusion is common.

And Here's a Bonus Tip:

It's important to clear up situations in which someone has the responsibility to do a job but lacks the authority to act. Until that's resolved, work is an uphill battle!

In conclusion, are you unsure of where to begin identifying your burning hassles? Try asking your staff or colleagues what's impeding their work. Remember to use these ground rules: No blaming or accusing! Everyone should feel free to speak up without being criticized, and everyone can help brainstorm the solutions.


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