Examples of Business Performance Questions
Although it can be argued that the primary job or every leader or manager is to improve overall team and business performance, as much as he or she is able, it is not always obvious where to focus the improvement effort. One way in which to do this is to ask business performance questions and the list below offers a few ideas what kind of questions might be asked-split into six key categories. Of course, these are only examples and each question under each heading should therefore be adapted or changed according to individual situations and needs as necessary:
- Do we have the right people in/on the team?
- Are teams balanced with the skills, knowledge and experience required to reach their goals?
- Do our people have the appropriate knowledge and skills?
Because people deliver business performance (good and bad) commencing with questions about staff quality and knowledge or skills is an obvious starting point. In the most basic terms questions under this heading should be about making sure that the right people are on each team and that each person on a given team knows what they are doing and what they are supposed achieve?
- Are our people well led?
- Are we listening appropriately to all of our people and adjusting according to the input?
- Are our people empowered/motivated?
Even when you have good people who are both highly experienced and skilled, it will count for little unless they are also well-led. Of course, it should not be forgotten here that everyone is potentially motivated or empowered quite differently. It is therefore essential that empowerment effort take account of the needs of different people to give of their best.
- Do we have the appropriate assets to do the job expected of us/reach our targets?
- Are our assets performing as well as they could?
- Do we have the appropriate resources to manage the team/department/organization effectively?
Even good and well-led people often can’t achieve much unless they have the right assets and appropriate resources to do their job and/or reach their goals. This might include obvious things like basic equipment, tools, computers and machines or enough time and money to complete a task or project. In other words, assets and resources are often the means by which people achieve results.
- Are our processes and systems optimally designed (effective and effective)?
- Which processes and systems have the greatest scope for improvement?
- Can any of our processes deliver better product/service cycle time or quality for our customers?
Systems and processes include how internal and external communications of all kinds occur, how sales and marketing efforts are designed to take place, how products or services are delivered and even how money is collected and spent. The processes need to be well-designed in the first place and then continually adjusted and improved to meet ever-changing market or customer expectations.
- Do we gather the data we need to pursue and reach our goals and targets?
- Do we turn data into useful information for people to use at all levels?
- Does everyone have access to the information they need to perform well?
Even where processes are effective and efficient, this does not necessarily mean that people and teams have the key information they need to perform in optimal ways? They need to know where to find the information, how to analyze it and how to apply it appropriately. In today’s computer and internet age, information can be the critical edge to beat the competition.
Business performance-Work/Life Balance
- Do we set targets that are reasonable given the demands and pressure on our people?
- Are jobs and tasks well designed to allow for appropriate work/life balance?
- Do we allow enough time off and rest for all of our people?
We cannot and should not turn a blind-eye to the negative impact that individual and team stress and an over-pressured work environment has on people. It is therefore critical to ensure that work is designed sensibly to allow people to work hard and be productive but also to get the rest and relaxation they need each day and each week to perform at their best.
These six headings are a useful sequence in which to ask business performance questions but for those people who want to a more general list, the following questions offer a few more ideas:
- “In what way might we improve our leadership standards or abilities?”
- “How can we streamline or business or operations in any way?”
- “How can we simplify our work tasks or processes?”
- “Where is there wasteful spending in our team or organization?”
- “What can we do to control costs more effectively?”
- “How can we improve our level of quality?”
- “What might be holding individuals back from performing more effectively?”
- “What can we do to increase productivity and morale?”
- “How can teams work together more effectively?”
- “What could coaching or training do to achieve better results?”
- “What more should we be doing to manage risk more effectively?”
- “What practices can we put into place to improve communication throughout the team, or organization?”
- “What can we do to increase job enjoyment/enrichment for people?”
- “What more can we do to better meet customer needs?”