How to get your team to execute your strategy
It’s the lament I hear from leaders to frequently to ignore the issue. “We need to execute better.” Sometimes it comes with the preface that, “Our strategy is sound but our implementation is where we are missing.”, but the issue is simple and common. So is the solution. But simple never meant easy. It’s about getting people to behave in a way that is consistent with your strategy; the daily and even hourly decisions that are made, where people focus effort and resources, and how they manage interactions with clients or colleagues.
Last month, my article for Harvard Business Review titled, How to Get Your Salespeople to Execute Your Strategy dealt with this topic. The same principles apply across all business functions even though the detail is specifically for sales organizations. If you want people to execute better, it’s on you as a leader to make it clear what great execution looks like. Not in esoteric corporate-speak, but in a concise and specific definition of your expectations.
The short version is to:
- Figure out the decisions each person or job role makes on a routine basis and directly communicate them. Make sure you establish the boundaries for those decisions too.
- Set up the critical few priorities for each individual contributor or manager. (Its always surprising to me how often this is vague or overly general)
- Define observed behaviors (not competencies, characteristics, traits, or other popular terms-specificity matters here) that indicate high performance for roles at every level in the organization.
Then you’ll have to back up your explicitly clear, straightforward, and non-esoteric expectations and standards. Identify and tackle the influencers of behaviors in your business. Things like processes, systems, counterproductive beliefs, and ways of interacting. Add to that the reinforcement of effective action (not just results), and the consequences of unwanted behaviors (even if the results are good), and you’ve got a terrific start. I know, as I said, simple doesn’t equate to easy.
It’s become the most popular business insult to say someone is “not strategic”, but that is really hard to correct I find it typically means that someone has incorrect, confused or too many priorities, makes decisions based on what is expedient instead of what is consistent with objectives, and/or is absorbed in tasks without a clear line of sight to objectives of the business. It’s easy to spot. They are the ones stuck in the busy trap. Wasting resources and dollars by doing low-value work (e.g. lots of time emailing, etc.) If you see this in your business, it’s a more significant drag than you may think. Take a close look to find out.
It is just over a month away from the Tampa Bay Business Journal event I’ll be leading, How Leaders Improve Performance and Drive Results, sponsored by the Tampa Bay Business Journal.
Please join us for breakfast and a session focused on how the strongest leaders drive results for their business. Click the image below for the details.
If you are interested in attending, feel free to contact me directly.
A Slice of Life Balance
Here’s something out there for you. Try taking 10 minutes to play Tetris, Candy Crush, or another video game. Ridiculous right? But video games aren’t a waste of time, and can even create benefits to job performance and health. That is as long as you don’t spend excessive amounts of time playing them (e.g. me and my Atari 2600 when I was a kid.)
Jane McGonigal, who holds a Ph.D. from UC-Berkely in performance studies, has done extensive research that is both behavioral and neurological, which indicates some time playing a video game may even boost performance. The reason? When we play video games we are engaged in creative problem-solving. It helps to boost resilience, build optimism, improve cognition, and, well-its fun. This article from Time magazine, Why Playing Video Games Can Actually Be Good For Your Health, gives a glimpse at her research.
Try it once or twice and see if you like it. Your only downside is that you’ve spent 10-20 minutes doing something that’s not a professional or personal responsibility. Most of us need that more often to perform consistently at a high level.
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