Have you experienced the deep satisfaction that comes from taking time with your team and defining the Mission (Why), Vision (What), and Strategy (How) for your company? You left meetings feeling energized and hopeful. Now you will get somewhere and leave behind the feeling of chasing your tail every day. But you return to your desk and the in-box is full… and the phone starts to ring…. and the e-mails start to pop… and somehow you start looking at your tail again.
The truth is that breaking this cycle is hard. For everyone. And the funny part is that you are working hard. Going in circles.
How do you break this cycle? Here are 8 steps that can change your results.
1. Stop boiling the ocean. Strategies are accomplished over time. Don’t try to do everything at once. Pick 1 – 3 key actions that are mission-critical in the next year and get focused on them.
2. Understand your “Brutal facts”. Get a realistic picture of your current performance and why it is what it is. You need to be grounded in reality to set wise expectations.
3. Break things down into actions. A wise man once told me, “Hope is not a strategy”. You need to know what needs to change and what steps you will take to get where you want to go. Be specific… We will move this to that by date.
4. Stop focusing on numbers and start focusing on behaviors. If you’re are like managers, you spend a lot of time looking at the end result numbers. Did I move the needle? That’s like looking in the rear-view mirror. Shift your focus to the behaviors that drive the result instead. The numbers will take care of themselves.
5. Define what success means. Studies show that the most satisfied workers are not those who have it easy, but those who experience the satisfaction of overcoming challenges. Have your team set their own goals and track their performance. They not only experience the satisfaction of achievement, they become fully engaged in the game.
6. Create a meeting cadence for follow up and support. Have frequent, short, focused meetings at multiple levels in your organization to review progress on goals. Have the teams create and run these meetings for their goals. This forms a great accountability point and lets you see and support employees that are missing the mark.
7. Let your teams experience the win. Ask your teams present their results directly to upper management periodically. They will feel a sense of excitement at showing off their accomplishments and, as a bonus, you get a close-up view of future leaders. Make it an “all-hands” game!
Now let me tell you the secret sauce to making this work – discipline. OK – that’s no fun, but as Edison said; “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” The truth is that most things in life boil down to consistent, focused effort, and getting the results you want is no different.
Now let me tell you the good part. If you do the work, stay disciplined and focused, over time you will start to slow down the tail chasing. The day to day crises will reduce and then you can gain momentum on your strategy.
How are you doing on executing your strategy? Rate yourself on the questions below to see.
- So how do you think you are doing on great execution?
- Have you identified 1-3 key accomplishments for the current year that move you closer to your vision?
- Do you know what success looks like? What are you expecting if you get those accomplishments done?
- Have you determined the tasks that need to be done to achieve those accomplishments?
- Do you know the sequence in which the tasks need to be done?
- Have you estimated the resources (people, time, cash, capacity) that will be needed to accomplish those tasks?
- Have you assigned the tasks to an individual?
- Have you developed a timeline for each of the tasks?
- Have you done a reasonableness test? Do the individuals have enough time to do what’s needed and keep up with their other responsibilities?
- Do you have a way regularly to see if you are on track with what you planned?
- Does everyone know the outcomes – for the organization and the individuals – if the plan is achieved – or not achieved?
Need help breaking the cycle of planning the same actions year after year? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to change the pattern.