Joanna Swash Group CEO of Moneypenny. Moneypenny handles outsourced phone calls, live chat and digital comms.
From thriving to surviving and back again, many businesses have worked faster and better in the past year than they ever thought possible before the Covid-19 pandemic. As we accept that change is the only certainty in our future, the challenge for businesses is in sustaining the faster, better model and the competitive advantage.
The answer lies in creating business agility. And this can only be successful if the agility is inherent in the values and behaviors of an organization, reinforcing the culture. Suppose individuals are empowered to be more adaptive, creative and resilient. In that case, these behaviors will transfer into the business, allowing better preparation for the complexity and uncertainty of our new working future.
And the best foundation to build an agile business with is its most important asset: people. Whether the adoption of an agile business model requires a little structural tinkering or a full drastic overhaul, the power of the reaction as individuals experience an environment where they can transform into the best versions of themselves can be life-altering, for both individuals and business.
It’s time for some entrepreneurial thinking. Here are some steps you can take to build agility into your business model.
Give your team the freedom to grow.
Fostering an entrepreneurial mindset means that leaders, managers and employees all work closely together, collaborating and communicating as a team. Ideas come from everyone, and there’s a clear common purpose and a safe environment for employees to be heard.
Hire people who share similar values, people who have a can-do approach. They will prioritize the attributes that are important to them and, inherently, the business. In essence, these employees will take charge of what the company culture will look like.
Freedom within clear boundaries and a safe environment means more responsibility. Create teams that pursue their own ideas. Ask, “What would you do?” more often. Trust your people to apply their own judgment, and give them the necessary authority to get things done. And be prepared for brilliant things to happen.
Make room for failure.
Failing is to be encouraged, but within parameters, of course. It’s widely known that big tech companies allocate a percentage of their brilliant employees’ time to pursue other projects, keeping the culture of experimentation and innovation very much alive.
Allow your employees to fail safely; try their ideas, or at least air them and learn through doing. This is about listening to people and asking for their opinions, but it also shows that they have been heard, even if a suggestion isn’t ultimately possible. Listening inspires a positive workplace and positive performance. Your employees will surpass your expectations given half a chance.
Delegate responsibility, encourage communication, offer coaching, nurture mental wellness and allow your people to grow. All this can be done within a structure, but when employees know where they stand and the limits they should work within, they also know which limits they can push — and that means they can do their jobs more effectively and feel supported doing so.
Listen to your customers.
Keeping in touch with customer needs and learning and adapting to changes in the marketplace in a timely fashion is a key component of agility. Don’t forget that without your customers, your business is nothing. So, take the time to listen — and not simply to the big things. Every little detail matters, from that complaint on social media to that random act of kindness.
By paying attention to the details, you make fewer mistakes and can spot more trends. Not only is this good business, but this also builds trust with your customers and employees and can result in true partnerships. And that goes a long way.
Love it or hate it, technology has been our savior in these unprecedented times. It has allowed people to stay connected, productive and engaged. Embrace these new advances. In order to work faster and better, use what is available to you in order to energize your people. Equip your employees with the skills to take advantage of the technology, and make this combination of human and machine the secret to your success.
The world is constantly changing. The businesses that will thrive in the future will have the ability to be agile at their core. They’ll have the ability to respond quickly and adapt working processes or products in response to customer needs.
Our eyes have been opened to new ways of working and new skills that businesses and leaders need to thrive in our new normal. It’s time to foster the entrepreneurial spirit, unleashing the potential of your people and then harnessing it. This is how we sustain on-demand, faster, better business models, creating a happy, healthy workforce and a business equipped to face the challenges of tomorrow.