Agile Employees | Agile Company

The business environment is changing at an unprecedented rate, and a rate that is accelerating. There are underlying reasons and also ways to address this. It really is a case where a business either changes or gets left behind, eventually dwindling to irrelevance. By irrelevance I don’t mean a small business. A small business can be a significant player in a specific market, especially a local one. Think of a landscaping or a plumbing business. Those are not necessarily large companies and being local can be an advantage. But, even they are subject to the pressure to adapt to changes in how business is conducted.

What is Your Business

The question, “What business are you in?” is one that has been asked for a long time, but many business owners and managers still don’t get the significance. For example, a landscaper may think landscaping is their product, but is it? Is their real product possibly something like to make people proud of how their home or business looks? Without an understanding of this, how can they effectively market? To adapt they must be an agile company. By that I mean a company that actively seeks to identify coming changes and has the creative mindset to develop timely solutions. Think about book sales. Amazon changed that almost overnight and as a result many stores are no longer in business. They simply did not foresee the changes coming and make necessary adjustments.

Agile Employees

Many employees are by nature curious beyond their defined rolls. For example, a CFO or Controller may fall outside the typical stereotype who just reports the numbers. These are the ones who ask questions like, “What is driving this particular number?” and, “If this result is undesirable, what changes can be made to the drivers of the number to improve the results?” This is the kind of person who is a big picture thinker. They are not stuck in the mindset of “I’ll just take care of my area” but rather seek and implement new ideas to improve results. They have the people skills to not feel threatened by others and actively seek input. They recognize the value of teamwork and embrace it. They are agile employees who have developed their curiosity and creativity. While not everyone is able to do this, a company can establish an atmosphere that encourages innovation.

Agile Company

Look back at the first paragraph where I mentioned the importance of changing or becoming irrelevant. One effective way to avoid this is to be an agile company. That is the company must be able to adapt not only to current and often obvious changes, but also develop the ability to look ahead to predict what changes are coming. This includes things such as:

  • What products and services will customers want
  • What products and services are set to decline
  • How will customers be reached (Think about how dramatically the internet changed this)

Of course, there are many other things to consider, but this is just to start the thought process.

Something to Consider

Look closely at your business, your competitors, your market, and any other factors significant to your company. Then begin to ask questions of managers AND general employees that let them know you want input. What ideas do they have? What have they observed happening that will impact your business? Although not everyone will respond the way you hope, by pursuing this regularly you can expect to see people step outside their comfort zone and surprise you with ideas for improvement and solutions to existing or potential problems you were not even aware of. Help them develop their ability to see the big picture. One obvious way to do this is to let them learn about parts of the company outside of their normal functions. It helps for a sales person to understand something about warehousing and shipping or for a customer service rep to understand the sales process. All this also helps develop communication skills and create a cooperative atmosphere.

If you want an agile company that can adapt in a timely manner, you must develop agile employees.

How about your company? Is everyone fully engaged in the overall future of the company, or are they just plugging away at the day-to-day, unable to look up long enough to consider the future?

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.

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