Productivity In The UK – Final Part

November 17, 2016


If you’ve been following my last three posts you will know that I’ve been talking about the ICAEW report on Productivity in the UK. I wanted to put the findings into simple terms for SME’s but as there was so much to talk about I decided to split it down into 4 parts.

If you want to refresh your memory on the ICAEW’s recommendations you can do so here.

Whilst there are macro-economic and national aspects to the ICAEW’s recommendations I want to focus on what a business owner of an SME could do themselves to improve their own business’ productivity. The fourth of the ICAEW’s recommendations was about…

Creating A Proportionate And Balanced Environment


Most SME business owners will frown when the word “regulatory” is raised. By default the term regulatory implies rules that get in the way, even though such rules may actually create a level playing field for SME’s to operate in.

One example could be the rules on government departments paying suppliers on time, or putting in place standards on product safety that prevent cheap imports taking market share.

An SME owner can do little on their own to influence these sorts of regulations. They can lobby through trade bodies and that should be encouraged.  But how could you take this ICAEW recommendation and make some positive change to your business today? 

Here’s a suggestion…

View yourself, the MD, as the government in your own business. You can set the regulatory environment for how work gets done in your own business and aim for productivity growth. Here are some “regulatory” things you could do:

  1. Ensure everybody knows the direction in which the business is going and how they will play a part in achieving that goal. No need to go into the details, but a simple plan, shared and updated with everybody would be a great regulation;
  2. Be firm on having a clear and disciplined approach to how work gets done in the business – use process maps and clear job descriptions to help people know what is expected of them and how their contributions help get the job done;
  3. Have rules about what gets measured and how everyone is responsible for increasing productivity. Referring to my earlier posts, think about daily management and visual display boards;
  4. Be strict about communication and reviews of progress – have regular management reviews and ensure accountability is clear and understood.

There are of course pros and cons of regulation, too much or too little.  Whether we are talking about regulation of the UK economy or within your own business there seem to be two constant themes that need careful thought. Especially for you the MD, as the government in your own business. They are:

· Having enough regulation to make things work like clockwork;

· Not stifling “free trade” or creativity and innovation” in your own business, so that productivity growth isn’t held back.

Achieving balance isn’t always easy and it can be a subjective thing but here is one golden rule that I have seen work well….

Apply the suggestions I mentioned above and view your role as the catalyst for continuous improvement.  Then use the measures of productivity to judge how well the rigour of regulations are restricting the free spirit of creativity.

Don’t forget we have a free assessment tool to find out where you need to make improvements in your business based on the 4 Disciplines of Clarity, Focus, Discipline and Engagement. Click to take the test and receive your personalised report.