When we think of operational effectiveness, we often think of tools, templates, systems and processes. Terms like “six sigma” and “value chain” might even come to mind. What we don’t think of often enough is the people-part of what makes our workgroups work. Here are some tips that have helped my clients—let’s talk about how to apply one or more to your organization.

    1. Establish a vision. Start with a clear and relevant vision for your team. Make it public by communicating it to everyone who works with and within your organization.
    2. Organize the troops. Establish a model that meets the needs of the business. Populate it with the most talented people you can find, including motivational leaders.
    3. Invest in development. When you invest in focused training for your employees, you not only foster their development, you let them know they are valuable (and valued).
    4. Support them with process. Build end-to-end processes that effectively support, but don’t overly restrict, your people—from planning to development to engagement.
    5. Hold people accountable. Ensure that everyone is crystal clear on what is expected of them as individuals and as a team. Hold them accountable for the performance of both.
    6. Make room for ideas. You’ve hired all these talented people, right? How often do you tap them for better ways of doing things? Give them time to think. And take time to listen.
    7. Keep it current. Marketing is not a static endeavor; your marketing organization shouldn’t be either. Keep pace with the changing landscape to ensure the readiness and effectiveness of your team.
    8. Engage your clients and colleagues. What challenges are they facing? What issues are they trying to solve? Engage your partners at a higher level, beyond project work. This can provide insight into what more your team can be doing (or doing differently) to enable mutual success.
    9. Continuously improve. Make continuous improvement your rallying cry so every employee is inspired to challenge the status quo as a way to promote excellence.
    10. Model positivity. “It’s not what you SAY. It’s what you DO that counts.” People do their best work in enthusiastic, encouraging environments. Promote positive actions and attitudes will follow.

What has your organization done to bolster its operational effectiveness? What structures, methods or management practices have been most effective? What have you learned along the way?