Reducing friction and resistance


In my professional networks, people are striving to make changes, improve sales and move projects ahead. Their goals include higher revenues, faster response times and increased output. The obvious approach to accomplish these goals is to work harder, faster and in some cases more. But, is there an alternative?

The answer is yes. Resistance can be a drain on resources. It can kill efficiency, over heat systems or break down parts. What does this look like in the business world? How about stress, low levels of employee engagement or lost productivity.

Unpleasant experiences create anxiety and sometimes leave you expecting the same scenario to repeat in new situations. We often develop negative messages that replay in our minds, creating internal resistance which interferes with current relationships or responsibilities. These negative thoughts slow you down and require more power to do the same amount of work.

As an example, I was helping a client transition from working in a restaurant to the medical field. It was a major shift for her. Part of her problem with working in the restaurant business was many of her duties had to be approved by a manager despite being a seasoned employee. In the medical field she wouldn’t have a supervisor involved in most tasks. But, she was fearful a manger would still be peering over her shoulder. After we talked about her dissatisfaction with the leadership style she experienced while working at the restaurant she was able to stop resisting and learn a new system.

An example of friction occurred back when I worked retail. We had annual sales and as the manager I was given percent discounts, possible merchandise inclusions and ways to ring up sales in the POS system. Many of these transactions required manager codes. To be more efficient I empowered my staff to make sales and discount decisions rather than requiring me to be involved.

I met with my supervisors and set expectations for acceptable discounts and extra merchandise. As a result I was free to handle other duties and the supervisors I gave the responsibility to learned how to be better leaders. If I involved myself in every transaction I would’ve taken attention away from what I was supposed to be doing, extending my day and slowing down the sales process. By delegating I took myself out of the equation and reduced friction.

So how do you eliminate resistance and friction? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Can you reduce the number of people touching a project or sale?
  2. What kind of internal resistance is slowing things down? Are there negative perceptions to overcome?
  3. Who can be an advocate for you to improve processes? If you have a good idea, can you work with a team to try a new way of doing things in your department?
  4. What kind of technology is out there to streamline the process? Are there apps that can be used to share projects and information?
  5. How can you use awareness to get a better picture of what needs to change and who are the players to make it happen?

What do you think? How has your organization lightened the load to make improvements? Let us know in the comments below.

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Guest bloggers for the TDS Business Blog.

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