Don’t be a “Yes Man”: How to Get Out of Your Own Way and Move Operations Forward

Some think the quickest way to move operations forward is to never say no.

When you never say no, you extinguish daily fires as they happen. Your team lives for today and today only. And for today, the path of least resistance is to do as the Energizer Bunny does — just keep going and going and going.

Everyone has their head down, focused on moving their tasks across the finish line. As long as this is happening, it’s all systems go. But what happens when someone’s battery dies?

Many point their finger at people when operations go awry, believing that staffing is the issue. It’s not a personnel problem; it’s a systems and processes problem. And it started with sacrificing long-term operational success in favor of short-term progress. It seemed easier to hit the ground running rather than take an intentional approach – one that doesn’t undermine the seemingly elementary practices that accumulate in value over time, like compound interest.

So, where do you start? Here are my simple tips on getting out of your own way when building resilient operations teams that move things forward without going through a crash-and-burn cycle.

Reassess your training and onboarding

Let’s start with the basics: there needs to be a consistent starting point for everybody, no matter their role in the company.

Everyone should know how to access their email (even if they’re in a role that isn’t ‘expected’ to use it). Everyone should tour the facility and understand where certain things live and how to access them. Everyone should have the same onboarding handbook that addresses standard operating procedures, codes of conduct, and organizational structure.

From there, you can move on to the role-specific training. Skipping the basics is a crucial mistake, but it happens often. Don’t gloss over the 101s of your operations. People don’t know what they don’t know, and they certainly don’t know what you know based on your longevity with the organization.

Establish processes and a communications plan

When operations go south, it’s easy to point the finger at someone else – someone “whose job it was”. However, there is nothing that can’t be planned and prepared for. If you blame your people, nice try. Instead, you need to first look at what set up the situation in the first place.

Efficient operations hinge on rock-solid processes and communication. The best way to remove the silos from your team and improve cross-functionality is by implementing systems. Systems mean nothing if they exist among a few stakeholders, so communicate them across the organization to ensure everyone is well-informed about what they are.

Make micro-shifts

What often stalls people in doing this work is that they get overwhelmed, thinking they must change everything all at once. I advise the opposite.

Start small. Start with the elementary things. Implement the changes with your new hires first. From there, it will naturally become more streamlined over time as the systems become part of the company culture.

A lot of getting out of your own way to move operations forward has to do with habit and behavioral changes – reversing the “it’s just the way we do things” mindset. The shift doesn’t happen overnight, but you’ll get there with consistent and intentional practice. Be patient and keep at it.

Build for the future

Your vision for your operational systems needs to be forward-thinking. An analogy I use is to stop concerning yourself with this Tuesday; think about next Tuesday or even five Tuesdays from now.

Spend time today working not only on the challenges of this Tuesday but also on those of next Tuesday and Tuesday five weeks from now. When you spend more time on the future version of your operations, it will start to get easier over time. Tuesdays begin to get better and better.
Focus today on what will improve your business tomorrow.

The Showpiece Difference

Many consultants view their work as a project. They’ll come in with all their knowledge and expertise and apply complex “solutions” to your most glaring problems. Things will look shiny and new for a while; however, it’s built on a faulty foundation.

Eventually, it crumbles, and you’re back at square one. We bring it back to the basics. We’ll make you do the elementary work – the things you thought you could gloss over in favor of flashier, high-level goals, while not sacrificing this Tuesday.

Think about it like a building that never received maintenance. Over time, something will give out. The cost of rebuilding it is more than the cost of ongoing maintenance. The rebuild has to happen fast because the building is needed, and because it happens quickly, the quality is weaker than the original structure.

Other consultants can serve as the construction team and rebuild you after the fall; consider us your maintenance team that addresses the issues at their root before the fall even happens.

Ready to get out of your own way and move your operations forward in a way that doesn’t sacrifice future success? Get in touch with us, and we’ll get back to you soon.

Resilient operations teams