In my last paper, I covered how Ivy Lee helped Charles Schwab. It’s important to remember that keeping it simple and focused when developing priorities with your team simplifies executing your goals over the next quarter and year.
If you followed the steps outlined in the last White Paper, your team now has a vision and a three year outlook of ideally three objectives they want to accomplish. Let’s use those objectives to develop our goals for this year. Take the number one objective and create a list of obstacles to accomplishing it. Refine the list and then place the obstacles in their order of importance. Use these obstacles to develop three to five goals; things you need to do to overcome the barriers. Keep in mind these are annual goals may have some complexity so you shouldn’t be able to accomplish them in one day.
There are many methods for determining goals. I find the acronym SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, & Time Bound) works well when consulting with clients who have minimal goal setting experience. There are many definitions for each letter on the Internet but regardless which version is used, just make sure you understand the components of SMART. If you’re setting a one year goal, it’s important to make it as Specific as possible and to keep it focused on what you’re trying to accomplish. Have leading and lagging Measurements (Metrics) which are challenging but not impossible to achieve. Remember to consider your SWOT and assess whether you have the ability to Attain the goal. Be Realistic and make sure the goal will challenge your team. If the goal is annual, set a date one year out as the Time (Bound) frame to accomplish it. If you’d like my White Paper on SMART goals and the tools I use to create them, just contact my office and I will be happy to send it to you.
When you get to this point the team will have good energy and they will have developed a clear picture of the company and what they want to accomplish with its resources and talents. The next step is for the team to identify the obstacles to accomplishing the annual goals, which will be used to identify the quarterly goals. The team wants to make sure they’re getting to the root of the obstacle, not just the symptom, so when ideas are generated, ask Why? a few times. Again, once the list is refined place each obstacle in its order of importance and use them to develop goals, things needed to overcome the barriers. Once more develop three to five and keep in mind these are quarterly goals.
The team needs to assign each obstacle to one of its members for accountability. Each executive will take the obstacle they’re responsible for and break it further down into personal goals. They will also go back to the departments they lead in the organization and break down the barriers to create specific goals for each individual. Breaking down the goals should be done over and over until every person in the company has a goal that is part of the overall goal, enabling each to make a contribution to the organization’s growth. When you get everyone participating, the change that’s taking place is easier to accept. They’ll bite the apple in small bits to accomplish the goal of eating the entire apple.
One critical element of all the goals—for both individuals and the company— is measurement; a way to make sure there is accountability for accomplishing the goal. When you figure out the measurements they need to be monitored, which shows when goals are not being met, giving leaders the opportunity to help when a teammate is stuck. You don’t want to get to the end of the quarter and realize the priorities were not accomplished. I suggest a series of focused meetings to make sure all the team members stay accountable to accomplishing their priorities.
We want every team in the organization to attend a daily meeting to discuss where we are focusing our energy that day and how we fared the day before with what we committed to accomplish. Every week the executives will come together for a meeting that focuses on reporting metrics. We also want the collective intelligence of the team to drill down on any big issue prevent the quarterly goals from being accomplished. Each month the executive team will get together and look at the measurements for each of the quarterly goals and cover in depth a challenge or two the team is having. The meetings are to keep accountability high and communication effective. Based on my experience, if the daily, weekly, and monthly meetings don’t take place there is no sense in even developing a strategic plan. If there is no accountability the goals will be lost in ambiguity and the organization will lose interest.
Of course, we’re merely scratching the surface on developing and executing a strategic plan but this series of white papers should give you a solid foundation to start building and executing your strategic plan. As with anything, there may be many other challenges in the organization that prevents you and the executive team from implementing the strategy successfully. Some of those things may include poor leadership by the executive team; resistance to changing the accountability structure; the mindset of employees; or the organization not living the core values. This is where having an experienced strategic coach can help.
A strategic coach focuses on midsize organizations and the barriers to growth. They serve or have served as a CEO or board member for a midsized growth organization. They’ve lived through some of the challenges of strategic planning and execution. Their primary focus is to discern the strengths and weaknesses of the executive team. They also facilitate building strategy and developing the team’s execution skills.
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