"People are usually at the root of performance problems" -Barbara A. Scott
People are the #1 reason for poor business performance.
Sometimes the performance problem does not rest on the shoulders of the person experiencing or delivering the performance issue. The performance problem starts somewhere and with someone and that person or persons are somewhere up (or down) the supply chain or workflow.
Unfortunately, people have a tendency to point fingers in the direction of someone else when something goes wrong. This is particularly true for individuals that have a hard time accepting personal accountability for their own success. (I have a performance program for that) Finger pointing makes it difficult for leadership to truly know where the root of the problem lies or if the problem is systemic.
The most effective and objective way to measure the performance of the business is to identify a few, 3 or 4 high level categories, that will enable the organizational strategy. These will act as the foundation for performance management. Have each area of the business from adminstration, vendor and supply chain management, operations and Information Technology all create KPI's for the support processes they manage in their area of the business that are aligned with the high level categories. These KPI's and processes include the inputs and outputs of the processes, the performers of the processes, the tools used to perform the process (where the process is automated - and how the performance of those integrations are managed [system uptime, response time, etc.]) and the interaction points in the lifecycle of the process; along with the expected and committed timeframes for delivery and the level of quality the customer can expect and the method for resolving issues in those (hopefully) rare instances where the process / system / product fails.
Whether you are managing the quality of the supplies from the OEMs or the time it takes for an order to arrive or the time to first use or first reorder there is a person that is responsible for the process. Knowing who, when the hand-offs occur and how long each part of the process is supposed to take will improve the output - whether it is a product, service or combination of both that you are delivering to your customer.
If you need to improve the performance of your business. Start with an assessment of the most common complaints or issues your business has had to address with your customers. Facilitate a brainstorm session where you create a fishbone diagram.
Create an environment that allows everyone to be open and honest about the problem(s) and the causes - primary, secondary and tertiary if need be. The people who own the supplier relationships own the resolution of issues with the materials sold at the retail counter. The person at the retail counter doesn't own the verbal assault he gets because of the failure of the supplier relationship owner to procure quality goods.
Figuring out who owns the problem (not the symptoms) is the first step towards solving it.
If the problem sits in the lap of a clueless leader it might be more difficult to overcome. Managing up only works when the manager being managed up to accepts feedback with an open mind. They must be willing to take a hard look in the mirror at how they are ultimately responsible for the problem if it is affecting the health of the business or the performance of the people that support the organization.
At the end of the day, you cannot effectively manage what you don't measure. The most successful organizations use process and technology to empower people and they measure success using KPI's and rewarding (or reprimanding) performance for those serving the business - internally or externally.
If your business or organization is struggling with performance issues contact me for a complimentary strategy session. Based on the nature of your performance issue a way forward will be identified to get your numbers up and in the green.