Focus Your Highest Priorities for Increased Business Growth
By Marsha Lindquist
ever felt like you have too much to do and not enough time to do it?
Or maybe you’ve heard your employees complain about being
overworked? Perhaps your company is struggling just to maintain its
standing, let alone grow? If these situations sound familiar, then
your organization may not be focused on its highest priorities.
What are a
company’s highest priorities? They are the things that really
make a difference for your company—the things that make the biggest
impact on your bottom line and the results you want to achieve,
whether those are results are keeping quality people or increasing
sales growth. When organizations don’t focus on their highest
priorities, they often experience higher operating costs and higher
levels of employee dissatisfaction.
example, if the employees spend their time and energy on things that
don’t matter to the company’s overall success, then soon they all
feel overworked and ask for more staff and time off. This runs up the
cost of doing business. Plus, people flock to places where they
perceive they can make the greatest difference and contribute the
highest value. When managers “make” work and ask people to do
things that don’t impact the organization, then people stop caring
about their jobs. So when employees don’t see the point in their
responsibilities or no longer feel challenged, then they start looking
for a job where they can make a difference.
your organization focuses on the highest priorities, then the
employees won’t feel overworked. They’ll feel confident about
putting the other, non-priority things aside, and they’ll always
contribute value. You can use the following tips for focusing your
organization and employees on the highest priorities.
Gather Input from all Levels:
company’s priorities will be in accordance with the CEO’s personal
and professional visions for the organization. And while the upper
level managers set the goals, you need to keep information coming from
below. Otherwise when you say you want to see eight percent growth,
everyone else in your organization may think you’re crazy. You will
have no hope for achieving it if you’ve never done it before. So be
reasonable, and don’t determine your priorities without leaving the
comfort of your penthouse office.
Be Specific, Rather than General:
maintain focus on the top priorities, you must make sure everyone in
the organization can relate to them. In other words, they must be more
specific than general. For example, simply saying that we need to
increase our customer satisfaction rating won’t get all two thousand
of your employees focused on a goal. But saying that you want to boost
your customer satisfaction rate by five percent within 3 months will.
don’t strive for too many goals at one time. Limit your list to three to five
priorities so everyone in your organization knows what is most
Priorities and Budget are Different:
often confuse budget setting with priority setting. However, the
concepts should remain separate. When you tie your priorities to the
budget, people start marrying them. Then you end up with people
worried about numbers and not thinking about what they’re doing and
how their actions impact the organization. So keep in mind, setting
priorities is not about budgeting; setting priorities is planning your
actions from a strategic standpoint.
your language simple so everyone can understand it. For example,
“get twenty new clients” is easier understood than “sustain
customer growth and ensure a ten percent growth.” When your language
is simple, no one will doubt what you mean.
Open Communication Lines:
communication lines must work both ways. For example, the senior
managers communicate their priorities and the overall progress to the
people under them, who relay that information to the people under
them, all the way through the organization. And conversely, the people
at the lowest levels communicate their perceptions and challenges to
their managers, who take that information to their supervisors.
Communication must cascade all the way down and all the way up.
Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses:
determine your organization’s priorities and the actions that will
support them, take time to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.
Consider any challenges you may have. Where will you experience
resistance? What will be easy?
who can help you overcome your weaknesses. Many times, you’ll need
support from outside your organization, perhaps alliances or friends
in other organizations. And again, you must communicate these
challenges throughout the company. But really focus on the essence of
what is important.
Do the Tasks that Support
know your highest priorities, then you need to determine the tasks
that will make them happen. For example, if your priority is to grow
at a rate of eight percent this year, what actions will get you to
that goal? Perhaps contacting more customers or improving customer
service satisfaction rates are objectives that will help your
organization grow by eight percent. When everything you do focuses on
those objectives that support that eight percent growth, then all your
actions will be geared toward achieving your highest priority. And if
your action doesn’t support the highest priorities, then you
probably shouldn’t be doing it.
Evaluate Potential Opportunities:
on your highest priorities will require some amount of evaluation. For
example, if your goal is to get ten new clients, then you may need to
evaluate forty or fifty possible clients to get the ten you need. So
when you look at each opportunity, you need to consider your
probability of getting that client. Do you know the client? Do they
know you? Do you know specifically what their needs are? Do you have
the talent to solve their problems?
look at each prospect, consider the probability of making him/her a
client, and find the probability is high, then everything you do to
get that client becomes worth it. But you need to look at all the
things that make that opportunity something worth going after.
Review Your Progress:
determine your organization’s highest priorities once a year. Then
review your progress three or four times a year. If you do it more
than that, your employees will end up hating it. And if you review
your progress less than that, you won’t be able to stay on track.
and managers are often overwhelmed by the huge wave of tasks and
objectives that need to be done, and people usually operate under the
assumption that whoever is screaming the loudest gets the highest
priority. But in reality, the person screaming the loudest may not
really be the most important to the organization’s overall success.
use these eight tips to focus on the highest priorities, then you’re
not incurring more costs or doing things that don’t matter; you’re
improving the way your business runs. And the better your business
runs, the more your profits increase.
Read other articles and learn more
about Marsha Lindquist.
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