No single factor has more impact on employee engagement than “clearly defined goals that are written down and freely shared.” Deloitte Review, 2015 Quarterly planning is merely breaking down your annual priorities into four quarters to ensure that you accomplish and achieve your yearly goals. Your quarterly priorities create a sense of urgency and excitement that an annual goal cannot.
Annual goals are too “far out there.” It’s hard for you and your teams to maintain a focus over 12 months. But you can keep the focus, discipline, and energy to create and achieve 90-day quarterly priorities. You will accomplish more; faster. The quarterly plan also moves you toward your 3-year targets and your Big Hairy Audacious Goal.
John Doerr, in his book, Measure What Matters, shared the power of having quarterly objectives and key results at Intuit, Google, Intel, and the Gates Foundation. Former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, credits the focused Objectives and Key Results with “changing the course of the company forever.”
The critical elements of the quarterly plan include:
Focus on 1, 2, or 3 priorities. Start with 1 or 2 if it is new to you and your leadership team. This type of focus is a discipline (habit) that you want to develop.
Commonly, organizations attempt to take on too many priorities, and then none of them are achieved.
Sources of priorities:
I highly recommend that you tap into employees throughout your organization to listen to what they believe the priorities should be. When people weigh-in, they buy-in.
Also, data that you have collected from your customers can be a great source in identifying priorities as well.
The clarity in writing:
Make sure you take the time to write the priorities clearly. Write them with the SMART acronym in mind. Priorities should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reach, and Time-Bound. There can be zero subjectivity around the accomplishment of the goal. It’s either yes we hit it, or no, we didn’t.
A reminder, quarterly priorities are designed to be hit. There are no excuses. We all work together to ensure we hit our targets. Once a leader is assigned a priority, that priority trumps any preference they may have within their department. If you get behind on the priority, you need not be afraid to ask for help. Team members are there to support each other. When you only have 13 weeks, if you get a few weeks behind, more than likely, you won’t be able to catch up.
It is not unusual that quarterly priorities span multiple departments. Therefore, it makes sense that departments, teams, and individuals will have 90-day priorities, and they should tie into the organization’s top priorities. When this happens, we have alignment. When everyone knows the plan, understands their part in the plan, and is focused on achieving it, we are in sync. When employees are more productive, they have more fun. Accomplishment brings energy, a source of pride, and gets people excited.
Helping the CEO Facilitate the Process:
Quarterly planning frequently is put on the back burner because it is time-consuming, and other things are “more urgent.” But they are not more important. Is anything more important than accomplishing stated goals?
I can help. My proven process includes supporting your leadership in creating an annual plan and, subsequently, a quarterly plan. I conduct a series of on-site quarterly meetings with the CEO and the leadership team where we review the results of the past quarter, evaluate and discuss what worked and what didn’t. Then we create new priorities for the next quarter. I take the burden from you as the CEO.
My goal is to help you hit yours. Want to be more productive? 90% of research confirms that well-defined, challenging goals enhance productivity.
Time to start building quarterly plans.
According to a recent Twitter post by Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates, the two most significant barriers to good decision making are your ego and your blind spots. He says, "that together, they make it difficult for you to objectively see what is true about you and your circumstances and to make the best possible decision by getting the most out of others."
Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella, declared in 2014, the new game was to be a "learn-it-all" company rather than a "know-it-all" one. Nadella is quoted as saying, "A learn-it-all company makes the decision that every day will be a new day, with learning, exploring and experimenting as the norm."
That's' great advice. As a CEO or leader in the C-Suite, you do not need to be a know-it-all.
Who says you must have all the answers. Is this an area where your ego can hold you back?
Do you believe you should have all the answers?
In the early days of my career, we chose what we thought was the best distribution channel to go to market. But after disappointing results, we ended up leapfrogging the norm of selling industrial products through industrial distribution channels and decided to sell to the end-user directly via direct marketing.
Our founders had run successful businesses, but direct marketing was very different.
We were blessed with owners that highly supported growing, experimenting, and learning. Every day at work was a new adventure. Because we were new to building a direct marketing business, we reached out to gurus. We were in learn-it-all mode.
We invited Don Libey, Al Ries, Laura Ries, Simon Synek, Robert Fritz, and many more to central PA. Throughout my 30+ years, we engaged multiple experts in all the critical areas of our business.
It's funny to think back to the mid to late 1980s; there was no internet, no YouTube, no Google, so knowledge was obtained in the old fashion way.
What benefits were we expecting? Initially, it may have been survival. Still, it was our wish that meeting with the gurus would accelerate our learning, minimize potential mistakes, and set us on a stable business growth trajectory. I believe having this growth mindset and desire to seek help, fueled our business success. But we had to admit (let go my ego) that leadership didn't have all the answers. Investing in consultants who had been down the road before and had engaged with many successful direct marketing companies, we believed, would accelerate our financial and people growth.
When I reflect, I'm thankful for people who encouraged me and supported my learning.
Ask yourself the following:
Are you "out over your skis"?
What experience, insight, & knowledge would be impactful?
Who are the gurus that could help?
Then go and do some research, choose a guru, and make the call.
As business coaches, we believe that "as the leadership team goes, so goes the rest of the company."
The world is changing and changing rapidly. There is a lot to learn.
So as a leader, don't let the ego get in your way. Don't be afraid to ask for help — model to your leadership team the value of being curious and humble.
Learning is a never-ending journey.
So as Nadella said, " a learn-it-all beats a know-it-all." Which do you want to be?
Don’t be blindsided.
That seems like a pretty simple question, and it's more than likely that you answered yes, but let me ask you; If you won the lottery and left tomorrow, could a leader pick up on the process by following your documentation?
Let's dig into what to include in that documentation or Management Operation Process (MOP). Ideally, it will consist of all of the nuances that make up a great organization. If your MOP doesn't cover all of the following, it's time to update.
Answering these six fundamental questions are what keeps your organization running.
Many times leaders want to answer the question on the MOP with a technology tool. While technology is imperative in maintaining your competitive edge, it doesn't interact with or motivate your leaders, and it won't hold them accountable.
You will be able to retrieve data and set up operating procedures that will improve your margins using technology. However, you will still need to make decisions and use strategic thinking. If you automate something without a clear and documented process, technology could likely make it worse.
Whether you are working with people, processes, or technology, customer and employee feedback and metrics are critical. Ask yourself,
As you begin to put together your MOP, you will have a lot of tough conversations, and some of them will be with you. You want to be honest and answer,
If you are unable to say that "routine has set you free," developing habits & processes will help you go from good to great in your organization. And more importantly, you will have more fun, enjoy the climb to success, and get back some of your time.
It's more than likely that you have the product development process, the accounting process, the sales process, the ERP process, the purchasing process, but do you have a MOP?
Working with a Gravitas Impact Premier Coach will help you develop a proven process for your CEO and leadership team to establish habits, attract and retain the right people. Let's work together to create a truly differentiated strategy, drive flawless execution, and have cash for a rainy day.
If you're intrigued, I'd love to chat.
As we finish out the year, most of us are spending at least a few hours in strategic planning sessions. They can be impactful, or they can be something we have to check off our to-do list. If your organization has some things that need to change, annual strategy sessions can be the beginning of launching your company into your best year ever. Spending some money on the correct format for the meeting is worth considering.
Meeting format means that your agenda and engagement, and even location and set-up need to have some thought put into them. For most C-suite leaders, the issues with creating and executing a strategy are that you need to engage in the meeting and plan. If you are also part of running the meeting, you lose out. Even if you try hard not to be, you are also often involved in office politics. You will deal with who gets to speak the most, whose opinion carries the most weight. According to a study published on NCBI, “Facilitation is an approach that can be used by individual and team change agents to help build capacity and support practice change within organizational contexts.” If something needs to change in your organization, giving the job to an outside facilitator - you may win big.
More importantly, once the meeting is over, you need to implement it. That means accountability to the ideas you flushed out. The right facilitator is fully engaged - they will create a follow-up process to ensure that you get the biggest bang for your time and money.
Here are the top 6 reasons to spend some extra money on a facilitator.
If you're ready to make 2020 different, start with your strategic planning. And do it differently.
If you are ready to hire an outside facilitator - we are still booking for November and December meetings. Email today at email@example.com.
Author: Pat LencioniJossey-Bass
A Wiley Imprint www.josseybass.com
As a fellow leader, I give this book 4/5 stars.
The Five Temptations of a CEO is easy to read and comprehend. Fellow readers will relate to all or at least a few of the temptations that make this book so impactful.
Written in a fable format, The Five Temptations makes for an interesting read and provides practical examples for easier comprehension. Pat shares the story of Andrew, a CEO who has a board meeting the next day and has to report business results that are less than favorable.
As luck would have it, Andrews meets an older man on the subway who provides wise instructions with an overarching theme - people make business complicated because they are afraid to look at the simple issues.
The introduction makes the point that CEO's talk about the complexities of the job, and when faced with failure, will point to what Pat calls symptoms, like strategic errors, marketing inadequacies, competitive threats, and technology failures. Pat says these are only symptoms, the real reason they fail is they succumb to one or more of the five temptations.
These temptations can be poison.
So here they are:
Temptation #1: Choosing status over results
Temptation #2: Choosing popularity over accountability
Temptation #3: Choosing certainty over clarity
Temptation #4: Choosing harmony over conflict
Temptation #5: Choosing invulnerability over trust
Leaders may be more interested in protecting their career status than making sure the company achieves results. Do not be so proud of the title, rather as CEO; be proud of the things that the organization is accomplishing. Great CEO's focus on the need to accomplish something; that is what drives them, not their ego.
Focusing on status and career above focus on company results can lead to complacency.
Make results the most important measure of success.
Leaders are often more interested in being popular with direct reports than holding them accountable. The result is the failure to have frank discussions around performance and expectations.
Friendships with direct reports make it challenging to have discussions when they are not meeting the expectations. Leaders will fire someone, a difficult decision, but they find it hard or neglect to give constructive or negative feedback.
Work for respect, not affection. Do not view reports as a support group but as employees who must deliver on commitments.
Leaders want to ensure that their decisions are correct. Therefore they can be slow making decisions that need making. Alternatively, they are afraid to make decisions without all the information for fear of being wrong. If a CEO is not comfortable being wrong, then they won't make tough decisions with limited information. CEO's cannot move forward in the face of uncertainty if they are not willing to make mistakes. Often they do not want to put ideas out there where ideas will get challenged. They focus on the need for precision and correctness, which leads to postponing decisions and which leads to unclear deliverables.
Leaders learn more when they take decisive action rather than waiting for the perfect amount of information. It is the job of the CEO to risk being wrong.
Leaders often have a desire for harmony. Yet harmony may be cancer to decision making. Leaders need the full benefit of everyone's ideas.
CEO's can believe that employees should agree and get along rather than disagree with one another. Harmony restricts productive and passionate debate around opinions that individuals may have strong views and feelings.
Without this conflict, decisions are often sub-optimal.
When leaders have all the available information, they can be more confident in their decisions.
Tolerate discord. Encourage people to air their differences.
Before direct reports trust the leader, the leader has to trust them. Desire vulnerability. Are you willing to admit when you are wrong? Willing to share your weaknesses? People who trust one another are not worried about holding back their opinions, shortcomings or their struggles. The key is to embrace the self-examination that reveals the temptations and keeps them in the open where they are addressable.
It is a messy, constant, and uncomfortable process but one that great leaders accept.
Actively encourage reports to challenge ideas. Trust them with your reputation and ego. They will respond with trust and honesty, and be more willing to be vulnerable with their peers.
Ready to overcome some temptations and get started on your 2020 strategy? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you profitable? That is the question. For most leaders, at a basic level profit means that there revenue covers their expenses with some dollars left over. Pretty basic. The idea of creating metrics based on profit is not as basic.
When we dig into profitability, some questions deserve exploring.
Digging into these questions will undoubtedly create additional assessments.
To truly understand profitability, you will need to dig into your current COGS calculation. There is no reason to tie metrics to gross profit if you aren’t sure that your COGS is accurate. While you may be thinking, “we better know that” there are reasons why your COGS may not be correct. Ultimately it may come from:
If you are pretty confident that your COGS and operating costs are accurate and allocated adequately, then you can use Gross Profit or even Operating Profit as a critical metric.
However, most of us need to dive into the above bullet points to create metrics that drive true profitability. This digging is where the rubber meets the road.
Let’s look at four leadership discussion points that you may be able to use to create meaningful KPI’s (that drive profitability).
There’s no doubt that building metrics and, or KPI’s based on driving profitability benefits everyone in an organization. However, starting or finding time for these problematic leadership conversations can be a monumental task. Having an outside professional drive the discussions can take off the internal pressure.
Ready to start the conversations? Get in touch today at email@example.com.
As a business owner/operator, you do your best to please your customers, satisfy their needs, and take steps to keep them loyal to your brand. However, how can you be sure that your efforts bring desired results? What are you doing to interact with them to gain the information you need to make intelligent decisions? Your clients experience with your brand and organization isn't something you should be guessing. Their opinions about the experience of your brand are invaluable. This information can help you to analyze and adjust your business practices. Don't leave customer feedback out of the equation.
There are a multitude of ways to leverage customer feedback, but first, let's explore how to collect that feedback and how to utilize the information once it's in your hands.
Having reliable customer satisfaction data is a crucial component in being able to address customer retention, evaluate your team's customer service efforts, improve products and services, and review other vital areas. Let's see how we can understand your customers journey through interacting with your products, services, and relationship management processes.What is customer feedback?
Top performing companies understand the role customer feedback plays in their business and strategies. So, what exactly is customer feedback? It's information regarding clients satisfaction or dissatisfaction with your products, services, and overall experience they have had with your company. Their feedback is data for improving customer experience and adjusting your planning and ultimate actions to their needs. This information is collected using surveys or direct communications (prompted feedback).
You can also find opinions and reviews that your clients post online, utilize internet monitoring tools to understand user activity. (unprompted feedback) A combination of these and other methods are essential components in seeing the big picture of how your clients perceive your brand. Let's break it down a bit and focus in on some core reasons why you should be getting feedback from your customers:
After that initial launch, needs and expectations will evolve with time. You can have the best widget in the industry, but this expertise will never be more valuable than customer insights. Keeping your eye on your customer's experience will serve you.
There is a direct correlation between customer satisfaction and business performance.
If you want to know you need to ask! A simple survey can reap many benefits! An accurate method to measure, manage, and improve customer satisfaction is determining your NPS (Net Promoter Score). This metric includes a straightforward question - "How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?"
A good time to ask this is after they purchase or when they contact customer service.
To do this effectively, you need a Net Promoter Score questionnaire or process and a scoring scale.
If you are using a scale of 1-10, then those that respond with a 9 or 10 are promoters, a 7-8 are passives, and a 0-6 are detractors.
Once you have your responses, you can add up your "promoters," "passives," and "detractors." For the NPS score – you subtract your detractors from your promoters. If 85 people responded and you had 60 promoters, 15 passives and 10 detractors, approximately 70% are promoters, 18% are passive, and 12% are detractors. When you subtract your detractors from your promoters, you get your NPS% of 58%. In this case your NPS = 58, which would be excellent. Some tools can calculate this for you – but it all starts with an excellent customer survey process.
When you include them while shaping your business, they feel more connected to your company. Listening to their feedback helps you create stronger ties with them, and they with you. This engagement is the best way to gain valuable brand ambassadors who will spread positive word-of-mouth for you, which is a priceless commodity.
According to Inc. contributing writer, Craig Bloem, Research shows (click here to check out the numbers) that "91 percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Opinions provided by other customers who have already used a product or service carry much weight!"
Do you incorporate a review system into your strategy?
Putting your buyers at the core of your business model and treating their feedback as a valuable source of data for decision making should be a crucial part of your overall strategy.
Their pleasure in your service is your success, so give them a voice at the table and listen carefully!
For a personal evaluation of how your organization can better utilize leadership tools, such as customer feedback, contact me today.
A sound strategy should produce sustainable and growing revenue. You have great execution when you have drama-free processes and industry-leading profitability.
This type of strategic planning separates strategic thinking from execution planning. Too often we do capture where we want to go, but we overlook clearly stating what needs to be done by when and by whom. Execution is often overlooked or placed on the back-burner.
We suggest you start by breaking your strategic planning into bite-size pieces. Think first (strategic thinking 12+ months and longer), then execute (execution planning) — 12-month priorities broken into 4 quarters with key performance indicators. So often leaders come up with great ideas but fail to close the loop with clear execution plans.
Strategic thinking allows you to deliberate beyond your current daily action items or knee jerk reactions. Where do you want to be in 18 months, 3 years, and 10 years? Execution planning builds on that vision and allows you to focus on your 90-day "rocks" – those big, highly essential priorities that must be accomplished in the current quarter. When you combine these two components – you are well on your way to effective strategic planning.
Ready to get started? Let's incorporate 7 items that launch your strategic planning into the stratosphere.
1. Form your strategic circle or council, if you will, of 3-5 people.
Start by committing to weekly meetings. Spend 1.5 - 2.0 hours together exploring trends and creating ideas around your future direction. Think innovatively. These ideation-only discussions are for learning and formulating. The tactics come later. Strategic councils give you opportunities to see and hear from your leadership circle in ways you just can't on a day to day basis.
2. Build the right team.
Involve at least one outside industry expert on your strategic council, and select internal leaders that fit your outlined criteria.
Don't know how to build your criteria?
Pick those who are visionaries.
Pick those who are passionate about the future.
Pick those who challenge the status quo and value change.
3. Think longer term.
Begin to create a 3-year plan that includes critical financial targets.
That plan should generate 12 months rolling-quarter milestones. Use those milestones to keep you on track. Build them into KPI's and other internal employee assessments.
Create a 10-year inspirational and measurable goal that gets you and your employees excited. Do you want to give bonuses, stock options, a dream conference based on these goals?
4. Put it in writing.
Your plan should be written in an easy to read one-page format.
Think 6th-grade format. No, your employees aren't dumb – but digging through a large planning document isn't high on their priority lists.
Post it throughout the organization.
Every employee should understand how their role fits into and ultimately contributes to the plan. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it should be a dynamic and ongoing process.
5. Be sticklers on the execution of your plan.
Don't worry about employees getting sick of your plan. Too many great strategies fall by the wayside due to unwanted feedback.
All your documentation, meetings, and internal communications should reiterate the 3-5 initiatives that live within your 12-month plan, along with your "Critical Number" for your most crucial yearly initiative.
These initiatives become your internal language.
6. Conduct quarterly meetings that drive accountability towards the achievement of quarterly "Rocks."
Break your 12-month strategy down in quarters.
Engage everyone in the wins and losses.
When we don't share with our employees, we create a "they/we" mentality that defeats the purpose.
When an employee completes their rocks – we celebrate.
When the company hits theirs, we celebrate bigger.
It's a joint effort, and it's joint accountability that works.
All employees should know their 90-day rocks and be able to answer whether they accomplished them or not.
7. Consider hiring an outsider to facilitate your strategic planning meetings.
When an internal leader facilitates, they become caught up in the process of facilitating and not as engaged in innovation and thinking "future." An outside facilitator takes off the pressure. There is a cycle that can happen within an organization that leads to "if we do this –we create more work." The right executive coach can facilitate, create tasks, and lead accountability efforts.
If you know the coach returns in 13 weeks – you tend to accomplish more.
Ultimately, this allows your team to learn and use a repeatable process for consistency and effectiveness. One that you can use well into the future.
So, take this all into consideration, but know that effective strategic planning is a habit that happens weekly; it's not a one-time event.
Why not get a taste of what a clear long term vision combined with a great plan of execution can do for your organization? Schedule your FREE discovery call below.
When I reflect on this quote,
I start my day with the right intentions.
In business, this can be quite impactful.
"Don't ever promise more than you can deliver, but always deliver more than you promise."
Fred Smith, the former CEO of FedEx, said business is two words. Process and Promise.
When it comes to leadership coaching, we call these brand promises. These are the compelling reasons that customers buy from you and not your competition. They are what makes you different. For most of us, that means addressing the most significant need your customer has and doing it better than anyone else.
You are probably familiar with some of these.
Figuring out your brand promise is a process and not a stagnant one. In today's technology-based world, our competition evolves at breakneck speed. That requires us to maintain a differential that means something to our clients. The exciting thing is that your brand promise may remain steeped in old school processes. Maybe you are service focused. Maybe a real person still answers the phone. That's up to you to figure out.
I suggest you start by asking yourself and your team four key questions:
Once you have them figured out, keeping your promises is not easy. Just imagine what that takes at McDonald's to make sure franchise owners across the world deliver these promises via 36,000 restaurants to serve 69 million customers a day.
Let's face it, any business can make a promise, but you need to be able to deliver upon them. That means having a process for fulfillment. Execution is key. These types of brand promises have quantitative definers so that they can be measured. With the right measures, you will know if you are delivering on your commitments daily.
With a documented process, promises are measured, improved, and taught. At my last place of employment, being ISO certified was one of our drivers. We were audited to make sure we followed our processes, and if the process changed, our documentation indicated the revision, and we had to re-train employees.
While this type of process is hard work, it drives consistency and excellence. This type of operation means that a Quarter Pounder with cheese will always taste the same to me regardless of whether I'm at my hometown McDonald's, or in a neighboring state.
Additionally, everyone in your organization should know your brand promises and these measurements, from the newest employee to your next retiree.
The right brand promises have a cost when you don't keep them. That is because they mean something. You risk disappointing customers and losing them if you don't keep them. If they don't come with a risk, they are probably not meaningful.
While it is easy to make promises but hard to keep them; I also know a lot of people and organizations that can't recite their brand promises when asked.
I encourage you to start with the four questions above and make today the day that you focus your work on the answers.