Hassle factors include all of the elephants in the room, 800-lb gorillas and cans of worms that you and your team wrestle with each day. Hassle factors are cultural and procedural. They are found in your own company and your customers’ companies.
How does your team ever get anything accomplished?
Wrestling elephants, gorillas and opening cans of worms are productivity-killers. More importantly, these factors impact and deflate team mindset and motivation. These factors plague corporate cultures.
Your team can do something about these obstacles.
Stop your whining and complaining! I know whining and moaning is infectious and makes great gossip. However, daily complaining sessions become a team habit. Reinforced over time, this unproductive habit overshadows your team’s intent, purpose and passion.
Identify your Hassle Factors. Be clinical instead of emotional. Avoid getting caught up in storytelling and melodrama. Just make a list. Get it all out on paper. When new hassle factors arise, add them to your list. This is a problem identification exercise. This is a root cause exercise. You cannot solve problems if you haven’t taken the time to identify them in the first place.
Anticipate wrestling with these critters. Wrestling with elephants and other biological critters is part of your business processes. OK, so these activities were not included in your job descriptions. Stop being surprised that these hassles show up each day. They are a given.
Include your hassle factors as billable hours. Consider how much time you spend dealing with hassle factors during the work week. Account for them – literally – when you respond to requests for quote and proposal. Perpetuating hassle factor processes and mindset costs your team and your company money.
Develop a team algorithm. Your team algorithm allows you to proactively – and expediently – deal with these hassles. You already identified what to look out for. Stop reacting to hassles when they occur. You know you can count on some sort of hassles to occur at some point. (An algorithm is a finite set of specific instructions given to a computer that, based on a specified set of initial conditions, are performed in a specific sequence to achieve specific goals and a specific end point.)
Create a dashboard and scorecard. That’s right. Once you knock another hassle factor out of the park, rate how well your team performed. Give your team something to celebrate, or at least discuss, in order to refine your algorithm.
What does this process look like in action?
One team I worked with spent lots of time putting out fires with an engineering company who had contracted them to produce custom components. The contract was lucrative, on the surface. However, as we explored the amount of time their internal engineer spent in offsite meetings and conference calls to correct flaws in drawings, profitability was eroded from double to low single digits. The next time this engineering company wanted to contract with my client, they included the Hassle Factor when bidding on the job. While my client was not able to correct their client’s own faulty internal processes, at least they were able to be partially compensated for now-billable hours devoted to making corrections on production drawings.
Take the time to define and analyze how hassle factors exert an economic business impact on your productivity. If you continue to whine and complain, your plight is dismissed as an HR issue. You know that is not the entire business case.
Present your findings to management, in monetary terms. Explain the impact of hassle factors in the context of profitability. You will win your executive team’s engagement in eliminating many of these hassle factors.
Babette N. Ten Haken builds innovative, productive and profitable teams focused on excellence in the execution of strategy. Her Playbook on collaboration hacks, including tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.