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Results are all that matters in business

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This column is disposed towards interrogating matters relating to the business world. The principal purpose being to stimulate discourse, debate and deliberations and in the process gain invaluable insight on the innumerable issues which affect and afflict this sector.

SIMON TAPFUMANEYI

Business permeates and pervades an almost endless number of aspects of our existence — therein lies its indispensability and inevitability.All application in business is focused on and directed at accomplishing given ends as measured by performance (results). In the final analysis, it is the results which matter, irrespective of the nature or scope of the investment.

Try as we may to justify certain phenomenon, the abiding and substantive criteria is results. Nothing else matters. Emotion, pride and rationalisation are inconsequential to any bona-fide assessment. Efforts and endeavours come to nought. It is a matter of the end justifying the means.

In one of its various definitions, leadership is expressed as the ability of getting things done whatever it takes. The thrust is on getting results by whatever method (legal of course). Modern management magnifies the results component of business processes and the appraisal thereof. The fixation is on results and everything done is predicated on enhancing them.

There is a crippling tendency among many of us to attribute negative performance to external and inevitable circumstances. This is neither here nor there. Look no further than yourself and at errors of omission or commission. Astute management and leadership is result-oriented, one might even add, results-obsessed.

Results manifest the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations. In sport there is
widely-held belief that a coach should not change a winning team for the simple reason that it might be producing the desired results. When employees undergo a probation period prior to confirmation of employment, the purpose is to ascertain delivery.

At every level of business, performance is definitive. In the production process, the entirety of resources used is selected on the basis of the results produced. Cost, reliability, durability and availability of inputs all affect the overall performance and thus invite analysis. If an input is costly, then it affects the bottom line; if it is not reliable, it stifles production; if it does not last, then it will be unpopular; and, finally, if it is intermittently available, then it cannot be relied upon. All these factors directly impact the bottom line (results).

Under processing, the whole method used is chosen on the basis of results. Modern and faster methods are desirable as they increase rates of production. Machinery is chosen on the strength of its speed capabilities and quality of output, to a large extent. Once again this is result-based. Time is money is the adage given. Faster processing results in higher volumes, therefore higher revenue. Computers are enormously popular for their efficiency and speed translating to better results.

Product marketing initiatives are selected on the basis of efficiency. This function is so pivotal to entire enterprises such that they can fail or succeed on this factor alone. How does one select any given marketing strategy amongst a whole list of possibilities? By assessing the results or performance? Thus those that aid the accomplishment of corporate or project goals are invariably selected. It is a matter of results!

Human resources, the most important in any business operation, are selected on perceived ability to produce results. When employers seek the best qualified and most experienced employee, they are essentially driven by the attainment of the best possible results. Performance appraisals are meant to gauge performance and where necessary introduce interventions (training) to better performance, thus augmenting outcomes.

Well-motivated employees consistently produce better results. Training intervention improves skills and knowledge and therefore performance while simultaneously boosting self-esteem and enhancing career development for employees. It is thus a
win-win situation as employees get better performance from their human resources who in turn better their careers.

Business meetings are a regular feature in the conduct of business. It is, however, not their frequency or duration that is of significance, but rather the results they produce. Meeting can be frequent and long, yet useless. Conversely, they can be short and infrequent, yet useful. Productive or non-productive meetings are so separated on the strength of outcomes.

It matters not how many hours you put in your work, but the results you produce. An employee can, for example, spend an entire week working on a dimension of business including after and before normal working hours and another can produce the desired result inside a day. Who then between them is more valuable? Your answer is as good as mine. That one might even burn the midnight candle and spend sleepless nights, to the exclusion of usual activities does not make one a productive employee if there are no results (positive) forthcoming, precisely because they dismally fail on the most critical factor-performance.

One might have multiple degrees in a chosen field, but if productivity does not match the qualifications, then the degrees are not worth the paper they are printed on. Education and knowledge which do not translate to better performance is futile.

So then the employee who possesses neither the degrees nor the experience but produces better performance is infinitely preferable and clearly so — it all boils down to outcomes, performance or results.

Corporate or business strategy is only as useful in so far as it produces outstanding results. However, it might be expressed or articulated and by whosoever, if it fails on this criterion, then the strategy is useless and requires urgent substitution.

I have often heard that appearance is everything, really? I argue that only if it entails positive results. It is true that generally people make judgments based on aesthetic looks. However, if the looks do not bring results, then they become immaterial, and overestimated. Beautiful or ugly, the one who produces results triumphs. This is business.

When corporates invest in team-building exercises in resort towns, they are motivated by the need to better performance and there is logic to it, if such measures produce the desired results. Even the most miserly of bosses will assent to them.

However, when outcomes persist in the negative, they became wasteful and odious. For any investment must have a return.
The mark of a successful business leader is exclusively based on performance. It is leaders who ordain changes in organisations and no one else. It is within their power to act decisively on business operations and lead the strategic direction of the entity. The buck stops with them and if there is non-performance, then it’s goodbye.

As the owner of a business, one is entirely accountable for its performance. Take the necessary bold initiatives to turn the tide, innovate to beat competition, re-structure if need be and explore new opportunities. Whatever you have to, do it for the results you desire. It is within one’s sphere of control and influence. Only the performance of your enterprise matters and what is more, it is in your hands.

There is always need to evaluate business processes, with a view of measuring effectiveness and performance. Projections are not always consistent with realities on the ground, hence the inevitability of evaluation. If results are as projected or desired, then fine. If not, then there might be need to modify certain dimensions. The motive in the entire process is to fine-tune or align our processes for desired results.

There are no sustainable excuses for non-delivering. There is no room for stories and insipid explanations in business. The overriding consideration for all business processes and decisions are results. It must burn with lucid clarity that it is results which keep the business going and growing. Settling for less is anathema in the practice of business.

●The writer is a management consultant and a former chief executive officer of a health insurance firm. Feedback on stphoenixx@gmail.com

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