No matter what your business is, you have both internal and external issues that annoy either you, your people, or your customers. The problem, of course, is that very few businesses (or organizations) do anything about them—and that is a very big problem.
Case in point. Recently my daughter had an issue with the Maryland Vehicle Administration (I know, shocker :-). After graduating from High Point University in North Carolina, she accepted a job from the university. As part of her transition from college to resident she was supposed to register her car in North Carolina, get insurance in North Carolina, then send her tags and a copy of her insurance from North Carolina including a letter on her agent’s letterhead stating when her North Carolina insurance was put into effect.
She was told to send the license plates and the letter from her insurance agent to a certain address at the MVA. Two weeks later I called to confirm that the Insurance Division had received the proof of insurance. They hadn’t.
When I told the MVA agent that my daughter had sent the license plates and insurance forms to the MVA as instructed, the agent asked, “Did she send them together?” “Yes!” “Well, that’s the problem.” “What do you mean by that?” “Well, the plates go to a different division and they don’t do anything with the insurance forms.”
Ugh! The fact that she immediately knew the problem means that massive numbers of other people had had the exact same experience (and my guess is that this has been happening for years).
This was/is a broken system. Either a) She should have been told to send the tags to one place and the letter to another or b) the MVA should have figured out a system to send the letter to the insurance division (or the tags from the insurance division to the plates division—I know, radical idea :-).
But it gets even better. I called my daughter, asked her to get the letter again from her insurance agent and then resend the letter to the insurance division—which she did. So I called the MVA back and asked why her account wasn’t cleared yet.
“We didn’t receive her forms yet?” “What? She’s sent them twice now.” “Yes, we received the letter from her, but we can’t accept them from her.” “What do you mean?” “We need the forms sent directly from the insurance agent.”
Ugh! They wouldn’t accept the same letter and same form simply because she sent them to the MVA. What’s that all about? So, once again, for the third time, we had to send the same letter and the same proof of insurance in order to make sure someone’s box was checked the way they wanted it to be checked. Annoying!
Now, I’m sure you have plenty of stories of annoying things other businesses and governments do. But more important, what about your own business or organization?
Make an Annoyance List
Where are the annoying things in your business? Write them down in a list.
This can be a great staff discussion and exercise. In fact, you can do this as a one week or one month exercise. Have each of your people keep a list during the trial period of every annoying system or problem they encounter.
It may be a software issue where one system doesn’t talk to another. It may be an issue where people have to re-enter information into multiple systems (hey, don’t you hate having to rewrite all your info at your doctor’s office :-). It may be redundant meetings. Or information that isn’t widely disseminated that alienates certain people. Or the reimbursement system. Or … you get the idea.
There are things that bug you and things that bug your people. Yet, when I go into companies as a consultant, I find that most of these issues have existed for years—yet no one changes them. They just tolerate the annoyance, the inefficiencies, the conflict, the time and money waste, etc. And that’s just on the internal annoyances.
If you want to take this to the next level, bring your customers and/or prospects into the conversation. Ask them to keep track of the little things that annoy them as well.
Then, and this is key, let everyone (meaning everyone inside your business) see the list. Remove the names of people (“Bob in accounting”) and inappropriate comments (‘Sally is a jerk”), but keep everything else.
Then Create a Plan
Prioritize the issues. Budget for them. Get everyone involved in reducing down the list. And make sure you keep the team apprised of progress.
Few things will build morale as much as eliminating some of the items on an Annoyance List. However, few things will demotivate a team like creating a list and then not doing anything to reduce it. So, once you commit to creating an Annoyance List, make sure you follow though and start eliminating as much as possible.
Just imagine what you business or organization would be like if you eliminated 50% or more of the things that annoy you and your people in the next six months. Wouldn’t that be incredible? Absolutely!
So, when will you start creating your Annoyance List?
To your accelerated success!
P.S. Don’t forget to add your comments and thoughts about the Annoyance List idea below in the comments section (click here >> if you’re reading this by RSS or by email)