Is Your Organization Teed Up for Success?

Conventional management thinking relies upon strategic planning as the primary method to align company resources to achieve business success.  I support this thinking for the most part but I believe the strategic planning process may not consider all of the issues that it should. The typical strategic planning process may not surface key organization shortcomings that need to be addressed and resolved or they will handicap the organization and keep it from achieving its goals and objectives.

The leadership team may be transparent and unencumbered by political infighting, however, peer pressure may be present to some degree, keeping certain issues critical to a successful strategic planning process from surfacing. Bias, (always present in some form), is also a key factor that needs to be neutralized or it will distort how controversial issues are viewed.

Organization Diagnostic Tool
A great addition to the strategic planning process is the use of a diagnostic tool to contrast the strategy, design and culture of the organization as viewed by three critical parties:

  1. The CEO,
  2. The leadership team, and
  3. The staff at large.

This multi-dimensional view of the organization provides excellent input to the strategic plan process. It will also aid in clarifying and aligning interests between the parties, which may be hindering plan adoption, and achievement of objectives.

This diagnostic tool is extremely effective in highlighting areas of disagreement within the organization about what are the priorities of the business, how critical resources are aligned and if consensus exists. The diagnostic tool uses anonymity of the respondents to counter the effect of peer pressure. The questions are designed in such a way that the effect of bias is minimized.

How does diagnostic process work?
Participants (CEO and leadership team at a minimum) complete an online questionnaire covering over 75 issues related to strategy, design and culture. For example:

Organization Category
Strategy Vision, Mission, Customer Service, Production, Marketing, Strategic Advantage, Sales Effectiveness, Customer Profile, Research & Development, Planning, Resource Alignment, Execution, Market & Competitive Analysis, Finance
Design Leveraging Core Competencies, Organization Communication, Shared Knowledge, Required Technology, Outsourcing Profile, Structure Alignment, Policies & Procedures, Roles & Responsibilities
Culture Ability to Change, Employee Feedback, Informal Communication, Performance Management, Building Teams, Coaching, Management Modeling, Recruitment, Values Credibility, Empowerment, Orientation, Training & Development, Reward Systems.

The results are published to the participants in two ways:

  1. Individual responses to each best practice question;
  2. Mapping each element on a four-quadrant impact grid for strategy, design and culture.  The graphic below is a strategy impact grid.

The impact grid reveals high pay-off areas for performance improvement.  A high impact category (i.e. vision) should have a high score and fall in the upper right quadrant.  High impact categories that fall into the high-impact low score quadrant (red items) indicate a pay-off opportunity for performance improvement.

The red objects represent the pay-off areas for performance improvement.  Discussing each of these areas with the leadership team results in critical findings that can be used to make changes, solve disagreement, improve consensus and align resources for performance improvement.  The table below lists several examples from an actual use of the diagnostic tool that resulted in constructive change in an organization and performance improvement.

Organization High Impact-Low Score Characteristic Result
Strategy Sales The leadership team considered sales a strength but it was the responsibility of an over worked executive who had limited time to devote to increasing revenue. They recognized it was time for it to be assigned to one person. A decision was made to off-load the executive and add an experienced full time sales person.
Design Shared Knowledge This was rated as high impact with a high score, but when pressed it was became apparent there were obstacles in sharing knowledge within the work group. A decision was made to emphasize cross training on their knowledge base.
Culture Feedback The leadership team considered they were very effective at coaching but scored low using feedback well. A decision was made to emphasize encouraging feedback in work group meetings.

This diagnostic process enhances the effectiveness of the strategic planning process and perhaps more importantly, establishes a baseline, which facilitates forward comparisons. The organization can have the same CEO, Leadership team and key employees use the diagnostic process at intervals (i.e. every year) to measure improvement and make adjustments in their plan where necessary.

The CEO in particular has the opportunity to measure the degree of disagreement between their view and that of the leadership team regarding a particular capability and its impact on performance. This separation would alert the CEO to a problem area where they should devote attention to resolve.

The discussion above provides a brief look at the power of using a diagnostic tool to improve the strategic planning process and the effectiveness of the leadership team to achieve business objectives.

In today’s economic environment it is essential to make sure your organization is focused on the right issues that affect the success of your business and that the correct priorities are established and agreed upon to improve individual, team and business performance.

Maximize your strategic planning process by using the best tools available to improve the ability of your business to achieve business success.

Take advantage of all available resources and tools to ensure your organization is “teed up” for success.

Author’s Note: Please click here to learn how you can take advantage of this process to make your organization more effective and to also learn about a similar diagnostic tool designed for leadership improvement.

Mike Brice

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Pornography and Organizational Bureaucracy

Recently a client asked me if the management structure and disciplines we were instilling would create bureaucracy in the organization. I was a bit flabbergasted by the question as the last thing I would ever do is instill bureaucracy (does anyone really do that on purpose?).

As I considered this subject (and began looking at the situation through the eyes of my client) I wondered if Supreme Court White’s comment about pornography (I’ll know it when I see it) had application to the difference between good management process and bureaucracy – and whether it would be easy to recognize when crossing from one to the other?

A primary and critical purpose of your management team is to communicate, train and maintain effective communication while understanding that not every exception needs to be documented into a new policy (and thus helping to avoid some energy-sapping bureaucracy).

Managers need to be supported in determining areas which are always going to be discretionary and subject to enough variables where they will be required to make a decision. BTW – if you have managers unwilling to take risks and who cannot tolerate the chance of being criticized, then you do not have the right manager! Good managers are attuned to new issues that can be significant on their own or which will propagate more frequently. In these cases, the management team must be proactive in working with their peers and executive management to quickly provide the staff well-defined, written direction.

Operational Guides layout the basic foundations of a firm’s approaches and processes, so staff are trained properly and then are able to provide clients first class service. This process (“Your systems must run your business, and your people run your systems….and most companies get this backward”) was endorsed and made famous by  Michael Gerber’s popular eMyth business development system.

As an example of this process, we created an operational guide for a client’s management team to use in recruiting, hiring, training and managing their sales staff.  It provided a common foundation in explaining their markets, key differentiators, pricing strategies, sales process, sales goals (activity and quota – units/$’s) compensation plans, and forecast process. As Michael Davis, President of Savid Technologies recently told Inc Magazine, “I knew I could close deals, but I didn’t know how to build and manage a sales team.” Our Sales Operations Guide assisted Mike in creating better results and discipline in his business practices.

Do you struggle with the red tape that is generated from too much bureaucracy? Or a chaotic environment where money, time and energy is wasted every day? Drop me a line and let me know how you manage this fine balance.

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Top 10 Reasons for Sales Turnover…and the waste of someone’s money.

There is no greater loss in resources, market time, goodwill and MONEY than in the staffing of sales people. Why is sales turnover always around 50% year in and year out?

Here are the Top 10 Reasons:

  1. Miscast or misunderstood Sales Role – hiring a solution oriented; C-Level Relationship person who is expected to be on the phone setting their own appointments 5 hours per day – tip hire an appointment setting firm – I recommend Virtual Sales Force.
  2. Poor selection (no objective candidate qualification process).  The most common error is hiring previous contacts even though the business they excelled in and your current business have no similarities in selling process, solution or environment.  Please if you feel sorry for them just write them a check but don’t hire them and waste your time, other company resources and worse allow them to mismanage your clients, prospects and marketing leads.
  3. You’ve hired an expert who won’t need training.  Don’t kid yourself, there are always a myriad of internal issues which require training to expedite success.  Make a list, assign names responsible for each area and be sure the proper resources are in place before they start.
  4. No effective on-boarding plan to support them during the critical first 30 to 90 days.  Their manager or other supporting resources must set aside time in their calendar to support new staff members.  If there are critical business meetings, vacations and the like, you are better off moving out the start date.  The first few days set the tone.  What’s it going to feel like – a house in order or a house in disarray?
  5. Unrealistic sales and compensation expectations – of yours or theirs. 
  6. Ineffective to non-existent sales tools – Unless these “tools” exist in written form and are used consistently in your sales organization you don’t have “them”
  7. Undocumented sales process (wasted sales time and worse loss of credibility with prospects)
  8. Loose to non-existent activity goals (I’m not talking about quota assignments) for first 90 to 180 days
  9. Loose daily management – “I’m hiring a professional if I needed to manage them daily I shouldn’t hire them”.  EXACTLY you shouldn’t hire them.  New people need attention to properly assimilate and succeed.  This does not need to be onerous – google “Daily Huddle”.
  10. No formal monthly performance meeting or written recap.  Once a month take an hour and assess the performance (including attitude and departmental interactions).  Quantify the success of their monthly performance and set specific goals for the coming month.  Resolve issues quickly by getting them on the table – read “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott.

Management should have all the above prepared and thoroughly planned out prior to starting the interview process. Why? Because the best candidates you interview will expect them to be ….and the “loose sales cannons’ will know their gig won’t fly at your organization.

By addressing these issues you will have done your part to bring down sales turnover and most importantly, improved your sales results while not wasting your organizations resources, time, goodwill and MONEY!

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Be the Victor not the Victim as 84% of employees considers job changes in 2011

Manpower’s just released study shows 84% of American workers are open to considering a new position in 2011. This is both frightening and exciting! Exciting based on the opportunity to attract highly motivated and top performers and frightening in that most 2011 business objectives would be jeopardized if a firm was to lose key members of their team. Given this two-edged sword, it is critical you are proactive in your preparation and strategy.

Inc. Magazine noted the following Must Have’s employees are seeking:
1. Feel a sense of purpose in their work
2. Challenging and Achievable Goals
3. Recognition
4. Training and Development
5. Communication – feeling in the “loop”

Interestingly, these 5 areas can be successfully addressed via Organization initiatives or individually by a professional manager. The “magic” happens in organizations that support these initiatives corporately and when embraced by management members in the day-to-day work environment with team members.

To assist in addressing this critical time period and to accelerate overall organizational performance, Accountability Partners has developed two half-day workshops which complement each other in providing you the rallying points for your team around high impact organizational capabilities and constraints. Our workshop guides you in identifying both and provides the structure for creating action plans where your staff will find their sense of purpose and personal involvement. In the afternoon session you’ll also be guided through a process of uncovering your strengths and constraints as a leader, to improve your personal leadership effectiveness.

As staff members feel a sense of purpose in their contribution and understand their personal role in achieving these critical objectives, you will have succeeded in creating organizational advocates (retention) and valuable recruiters for the other 84% of employees!

Click here to see our Winter – Spring Workshop schedule being held in 22 cities throughout the United States.

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Is There Dust on Your Business Plan?

When is the last time you updated your business plan? An audit of your business or sales plan is a tremendously useful investment of your time, and we can help you either get started on a plan or audit your existing plan.

Your business plan becomes your roadmap for action and decision-making. It provides the information about where the business is headed for your staff to see their role and get aligned with your goals.

Getting your business plan written removes obvious frustration and the paralyzing indecision we face when our destination is uncertain. There can be a real sense of relief once you have a plan in place that succinctly and clearly addresses your unique goals and vision for your business. It can be the first time many business owners get the sense they are in control and leading their organization versus responding to daily opportunities and crisis’s.

Imagine how it would feel, if a key supplier or prospect could ask any of your staff the question about your company’s destination and could receive a consistent reply! Contact us to learn more about the different types of business plans, and which one may be right for you.

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Jack Welch… on motivating staff

I like this statement from former GE leader Jack Welch, which was contributed during his appearance at the most recent Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit:

“One of the jobs of a leader is to make guys like me feel 64, with hair. Leaders have a gene that says, ‘I love to see people grow. I love to reward people.’ They’re not mean-spirited… They don’t have a lot of envy. Envy is a terrible thing.”

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Where is Your Business Headed?

A wise Japanese proverb says that Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare”. If a customer were to ask a staff member where your business is headed, could they tell them?

If you answered no you are not alone. Recent statistics indicate that more than 95 percent of organizations fail to execute to their potential because of issues such as:

  • More than 66 percent of business owners’ “business plans” are in their head
  • Of the 34 percent that have it on paper, less than 5 percent have distributed it to their staff
Are you a part of the 66%, 34% or 5%?
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