Got Snow? How about a Productivity Plan?

Kansas City Snowstorm 2013

Picture by Jan Tik via Flickr

If you were in the Kansas City metro area on Feb. 21, 2013, you now know what snow falling at 3 inches (+) per hour looks like.   If your business requires using any mode of transportation you also know what snow at that rate does to the expression “Business as Usual”.

Businesses that regularly rely on the highways for delivering goods or services are severely delayed or many cases completely suspended.   And if you were trying to get out of town for business or pleasure at KCI your plans were abruptly changed.   Even if you home office, chances are your day was anything but normal.

Businesses in manufacturing are one of the hardest hit.  Many plants are forced to completely shut down production.  One plant Operation’s Manager told me that they only had about 10% of their work force in the plant on Feb. 21st.   When the plant employees several hundred, it is safe to say, production is basically at a standstill.

As a business owner what can you do?     

“You can’t always control circumstances. However, you can always control your attitude, approach, and response. Your options are to complain or to look ahead and figure out how to make the situation better.”     Tony Dungy, Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices & Priorities of a Winning Life

There are always going to be events that happen in business and in life that you have little or no control over.   The weather is one of the best examples of something you can do little to control.    You can plan ahead to minimize damages, but you can’t prevent the event.    For example, when airlines know a traffic disrupting storm is approaching an airport, they do everything in their power to get their planes out of that airport before the storm arrives.  And, they will often divert inbound planes so they don’t get stuck at that airport, effectively taking them out of service.    Are travelers going to be inconvenienced? Yes, but by not having planes physically trapped by the snow at one airport, overall they have kept a lot more of their customers on schedule.   It is actually a very astute productivity plan and overall it greatly reduces the number of people who are affected by the inclement weather.

Does your business have a plan for productivity when adverse weather conditions hit?  If you’re able bodied and healthy, maybe part of your plan is to simply grab a shovel and get out and help as many people as you can.   The number of Good Samaritan stories is countless.    I was particularly inspired by the story of the General Manager of a company who helped dig out one of his employees who was fighting his own battle with a rare form of cancer.    Even though he was encouraged to stay home; for the employee, getting to work was one way he lets cancer know he is not backing down, so his GM made it happen.

A Productivity Plan…your homework

So knowing that this will probably not be the last time a weather event is going to impact the productivity of your business.   Gather your team and brainstorm a list of the top 10 things your business can do to remain productive if events beyond your control are interrupting your business.

Depending on your business these may or may not apply but hopefully a couple will stimulate the thought processes to build your own top 10 list.

  • Spot check inventory
  • Hold a mini-kaizen event with the people who are there
  • Clean up mail, email
  • Review your quarterly goals
  • Reach out to clients you have been having a hard time contacting
  • Review your top prospects and develop a plan to reach out to them
  • Perform a thorough cleaning in a key area
  • Call your Insurance Agent and review your policies
  • Call your Financial Advisor and review your 401K plan/retirement plan
  • Perform preventative maintenance on equipment

Depending on your business, you may be able to create separate lists for different departments, but the end result will be the same…you’ll be a lot more productive than complaining about the weather!   Are you going to replace all the revenue when it is not “Business as Usual? No, but you will have some useful things you can do to minimize the financial impact of the event that you have no control over.   And, I assure you that GM who dug out his employee along with the other 1000’s of Good Samaritans who helped assist stranded motorist gained something the financial impact will never match.

Does your business have a plan for productivity when events like snowstorms affect regular business?  We would love to hear your thoughts and feel free to share any stories you have from the storm.

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach

3 thoughts on “Got Snow? How about a Productivity Plan?”

  1. Great ideas, Chris! Now all we can hope for is that the whole approach to productivity gets incorporated into day-to-day business life, and not just on snow days 😉

    1. Thanks and you are correct. Sometimes it takes events like a the past two weeks to disrupt the routine just enough to create some positive ideas for change. The follow through and implementation is the part that doesn’t happen on it’s own….that is where effective leaders come in.

  2. midsummer says:

    It’s hard to come by experienced people about this topic, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about!

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