I’m sure you’ve all been there. You’ve spent time at the beginning of the year, locked in meeting rooms and coming up with an all singing all dancing plan to make sure that you deliver all of your business goals.
You’ve probably been highly motivated to deliver it when you’ve left the room, but then people don’t stick to the plan, they go off on tangents and either try to build their own fiefdoms or worse than that, actively sabotage the efforts .
So how do you avoid this?? How do you increase your chances of delivering what you set out to do…
At our most recent CFO forum in Nottingham, a number of the region’s leading Finance Leaders gave us this insight:
Get everyone’s buy-in up front
It sounds obvious right? But if, as a leadership team you are failing to execute your plan, it could be that everyone isn’t bought in to that plan in the first place. Make sure that you foster an environment where the SLT are comfortable with raising concerns and that everyone is genuinely on the same page. Let people pick around the edges and try to find common ground or compromise where it makes business sense to do so. This isn’t about ego, it’s about what is right for the health of your organisation.
Sometimes….. it’s not possible to resolve every single issue…if that happens to be the case….
Have a publicly joined up approach
Behind closed doors in the board room, by all means, thrash out the areas of disagreement that exist, pull at the edges of the plan and challenge the assumptions that surround it. However, at the point that you go back out into the day to day operations of the business, make sure that you are delivering a consistent message regardless of your own or others concerns.
Nothing ruins an ability to execute a plan more than confused messaging and staff who are able to find the loops holes between the leadership teams points of view!
Define what you definitely “wont’ do”.
This is a great idea. It’s fair to say that business forces may cause the plan to ebb and flow throughout the space of a year. However, make sure that you agree up front, the red lines that you aren’t going to cross. For example, if you agree that you aren’t going to set up in a new territory in this financial year, then regardless of people’s desire to make it happen, then don’t. Refer them back to the red lines. At least this way you won’t get caught up in market sentiment or being purely reactive.
Have a “due process” that each and every idea has to pass through.
You are sat in a board meeting, your MD decides that he’s got a great idea and everybody nods in agreement because they don’t want to be the person to challenge them. However, if you have a mechanism in place, or rules that each and every idea has to satisfy, then regardless of who is the internal sponsor, only great ideas make the grade. Even better, if your evaluation tool utilises metrics that supports your annual plan, then only ideas which help you to deliver that plan are executed.
Convert the Dissenting voices
There are always going to be occasions where people have concerns and are overly vocal about them. Typically, these are the people that are resistant to change, or have an alternative agenda. If you can find a way to convert these people into sponsors of the plan (perhaps by giving them an important role to play in it’s delivery) then you will find that resistance from other people in the business starts to disappear… not least, if the biggest critic can come around to the idea and pro-actively deliver it, then what else is there for people to be concerned about!
Utilise an OGSM model.
A What now?! An OGSM model is one which utilises Objectives, Goals, Strategies and Measures. You can even build in local level tactics to support this. But if you can design an enterprise level OGSM framework, then each and every strand that permeates out from this, should in theory support the overarching aims of the business. Every business decision can then be fed back through, to make sure that it meets the relevant criteria. This is a great way of getting buy-in at each and every level of a business, delivering piercing clarity and pulling together all behaviours and actions in a consistent way.
Thread your company values into your plan
I’m sure you’ve seen this, you talk about the fact that you aren’t a KPI driven business, and then at leadership meetings the first thing you talk about is KPI performance. Why not try building a plan that is wholly aligned to your company values and behaviours. Maybe you are a relationship driven organisation. If so, make sure that your measures across the business are inspecting the relationships that are being created and the strength of these across the short, medium and long term.
If the behaviours that you drive across your business are intrinsically linked to your annual plan, then you increase the likelihood of delivering this successfully.