The Key to Higher Performance – Get On the Same Page!
By Joe Calhoon
Our world will
never be the same. Recent economic and political events have
created a new playing field for business success. In order to make
the most of the current realities, leaders must adapt to the
changing marketplace and engage the capacity of their people to
achieve business results. It all starts with a plan; better yet, a
Dynamic Business Growth Plan.
Developing a clear and simple plan will strengthen employee
morale, increase productivity and improve profitability. This
won’t take long. The plan will fit on a single page. It will be
easy to communicate. It will keep your team on track and,
most importantly, it will be easy to adjust as the economy improves.
An effective planning system is the most reliable predictor of
business growth – it keeps everyone on the same page and ultimately
leads to higher performance. To develop your plan and get your
team on the same page, start by answering these six questions:
What are you
trying to build? Vision is your desired future state. You must
look beyond the current realities to your more promising future. A
vision ignites people’s passion and harnesses their unique strengths
to grow the business.
Here are the
four basic elements of a useful vision statement:
business you’re in.
products and services you offer.
3. Who you’re
trying to serve.
4. The scope
of operations (local to global).
If you don’t agree on these four elements, it will be
difficult for your team to make meaningful progress.
Here is the
vision of Apple Computer: “Apple is committed to bring the best
personal computing products and support to students, educators,
designers, scientists, engineers, business persons and consumers in
over 140 countries around the world.”
What is your
purpose? Why do you exist? Mission
is purpose. Mission motivates. The root word of motivation is
“motive.” Motive is why you do what you do. Unfortunately, many
mission statements are too long; they make a good cure for
insomnia. A mission statement works best when it’s short and
clear. It should fit on a t-shirt; it should be ten words or less.
The mission of
Federal Express is: “The world on time.”
Here is an
effective way to define your mission. Simply ask the question, “Why
not just shut this organization down, close the doors and sell off
the assets?” This gets to the core of why you’re in business - your
How will you treat
each other moving forward?
code of conduct. An appropriate set of values defines what’s
acceptable and what’s not acceptable in the way you treat one
another. Values build strong relationships and create high-trust
organizations. With a strong set of values, employees will often
receive greater acceptance, appreciation and respect at work than in
many other areas of their life.
Lou Holtz is recognized as one of the world’s most successful
college football coaches. Lou understands adversity. He has never
taken over a winning team, yet, within two years, every one of his
teams played in a Bowl game. Many attribute his success and the
character of his players to these three values – do what’s right, do
your best and treat others as you want to be treated.
and values are long term; they don’t change much over time.
How will you
the numbers that measure progress. Think of the dashboard in your
car. Your business needs a dashboard, a set of indicators that tell
you how your business is doing.
Jack Welch is
widely recognized as the most effective executive of the 20th
Century. He said, “Too often we measure everything and understand
nothing. The three most important things you need to measure in a
business are customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and cash
flow.” Those are your three core measures.
businesses that obsessively focus on meeting the needs of those
three stakeholders – customers, employees and owners (CEO) – while
developing their leaders are 756 times more profitable than
comparison companies (according to a study reported in Corporate
Culture and Performance).
What are the
categories of work to be done?
the high-level choices you make that determine the course you’re
going to follow. Usually you will have between three to seven
categories of work to be done in the next year or so.
There are many
ways to write strategies, but here’s a method that is simple and
strategic categories. They might be called marketing, human
resources, innovation, productivity, etc.
Start with a
verb and clearly define the end in mind.
words “by” or “through.”
your strategic choices.
strategy helped Wilson Auctioneering double their revenues in one
year – “Reposition Wilson Auctioneering through television
advertising and focus on bigger deals.”
“Reposition Wilson Auctioneeering
television advertising and a focus on bigger deals.”
Larry Grill, VP
of Corporate Services for Alabama Power, recently explained his
leadership philosophy. “The further you go up the corporate chart,
the greater your responsibility to serve others. Unfortunately, many
leaders lose the ego battle and undermine their own effectiveness.
Leadership is best described as servant leadership.”
the employees who serve the customers, which improves the bottom
line. This is a winning strategy for any business.
Who will do what by
Priorities translate strategies into results. Priorities define who
needs to do what by when. Unfortunately,
many business plans are lengthy documents that sit on a shelf
collecting dust. Almost every plan is missing the most important
with a verb, end with a date and have something measurable in
between. Priorities include problems to solve, goals to achieve or
capacities to develop. For example: “Finish vehicle maintenance by
12/19/08.” “Sell $200K in new business by 11/28/08.” “Complete
marketing plan by 12/5/08.”
In closing, here
are three principles that help leaders engage employees, accelerate
growth and increase profits.
– Involve your team to a greater extent as you move through the six
elements. In other words, you want your team less involved in
creating vision, more involved in creating strategies and
– Your plan does not have to be perfect for your team to make
significant progress. You will reach a point when it is best to
quit planning and start achieving.
– Focus your team on the 20% of your activities that produce 80% of
your results. Keep asking, “What is most important?” Then, do
Only 12 percent
of businesses have a business growth planning process in place. By
answering these six questions and getting your team on the same
page, you develop a significant competitive advantage. The key to
higher performance is developing your Dynamic Business Growth Plan
and consistently achieving your most important priorities. You will
be building a more effective team and a stronger capacity to prosper
in the years ahead. Now, go for it!
Read other articles and learn more
about Joe Calhoon.
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