With the holiday season fast approaching, we are all making lists to decide what gifts we will be bestowing upon our loved ones. As you create your personal lists, also set aside some time to make a list of gifts that you, as a leader, will give to your business to make it more successful.
Here are our top five gift suggestions
You and your team spent weeks (or probably months) creating your strategic plan and budget for next year. Now that it’s complete, it’s time to fully COMMUNICATE it to your entire organization. Where most companies fail in execution starts with not clearly defining the goals of the company to their employees, and then expressing how each individual employee’s role must influence and impact those goals.
A recent FranklinCovey study (of over eleven thousand employees) showed that only 19% of employees had clearly defined work goals, and that only 9% understood how their role connects to the corporate goals. That is scary, as how can any team win when there is little to no knowledge of the game plan or alignment? Disney, a highly successful organization, reports that 77% of their employees understand how their specific role impacts the overall Disney goals. Why is this important? Because that same study showed that highly-engaged companies are 57% more profitable. Now that would be a great gift for any company!
With your business goals and individual goals established for your team, it’s time for every level of the organization to FOCUS. Studies have shown that organizations spend the vast majority (up to 90%) of their time working on what they consider to be “urgent” issues. These issues tend to be very tactical and most are not truly critical to meeting or exceeding your business goals. They are merely to-do items, or items you’ve always done. They take away valuable time for you and your team to focus on the most impactful aspects of your business.
Make sure your organization uses the strategic planning goals and their own individual goals as the filter of what to focus on. Just because someone deems something urgent, doesn’t mean it’s important to your business goals. If you are in meetings and answering emails six to eight hours a day, you are not taking time to think strategically. Therefore, set aside at least eight hours a week for “thinking” or “strategy,” making sure you are continually looking at your goals, trends and the market, and identifying how you will stay on track to accomplish your short- and long-term goals. Creating time to focus on the few but important items is a great gift for your organization.
3. Knock Down Barriers
According to a 2015 Harvard Business Review survey of 400 global CEOs, the vast majority of them claim “lack of execution” is the primary reason they do not achieve their plan. Part of being a leader is making sure you keep your team on track, delivering the overall strategy, and making sure each team member has the ability to execute their specific accountabilities unimpeded. There will inevitably be internal and external barriers that arise that will create obstacles in their ability to execute on these goals. Your job is to identify and KNOCK DOWN BARRIERS that defocus the organization and slow the progress of your team.
The barriers are usually internal, and may include things like mixed priorities from the organization, resource constraints, or accountability confusion, to name a few. The majority of employees will slow down and wait or even stop executing when faced with barriers to their efforts, however your strongest employees will continually try to solve issues themselves. As a leader, your role is to identify where barriers are occurring, which employees need the most guidance, and help knock down obstacles to get the team functioning near or at 100%.
4. Think Forward
Once the strategic plan is firmly in place and embedded within the organization, leadership’s next role must be to identify and plan for the change that will inevitably occur. This change could cause havoc in your predetermined plan and the ability to reach your business goals. Changes come from many areas, and the largest ones usually come from external factors, such as industry trends, regulatory changes, competitive actions, consolidation, weather conditions and new entrants into a category, to name a few.
Strong leaders have the ability to THINK FORWARD on things that may happen to them, either good or bad, and to have contingency plans in place to address them before, or at least as quickly as they occur. This is what we call scenario planning—proactive planning and strategy development to control your own destiny, versus letting things merely happen to you and your organization. Lack of strong scenario planning (or no pre-planning for change at all) is one of the biggest failures of most companies and leaders today.
Every company has a scorecard, whether it’s literally on a card that fits in the leader’s front shirt pocket, or a comprehensive digital dashboard that pops up on the leader’s smartphone each morning. An additional element of maintaining and growing team performance is making sure everyone has the ability to see and monitor progress. Monitoring progress should be done frequently. Looking at progress of the previous month is like looking in a rearview mirror and it’s too late.
A leader should be looking daily at the momentum of their overall business, as well as the team-specific goals to make sure they are on target to achieve them. Twelve months goes by very fast, and every day is critical to achieving the focus and accountabilities that will deliver the plan. I am a true believer that “WHAT GETS MEASURED, GETS DONE.” So make sure each of your teams has their own scorecard that they are responsible to manage, and that this is what you incentivize them on. And to ensure overall team alignment, make sure incentives are coordinated and reward the same behaviors.
The holidays are filled with wonder, whether it be through special time with family and friends, or a unique gift to use in the coming year. Your organization will have the same excitement if you provide them strong leadership, giving them the gifts and ability to be more successful in the coming business year.