Article

NextGen Know-How: Taking Action

Group of young creative team going over some plans together
Laurie Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR Photo
Executive Coach/Consultant
Envision Excellence

5 minutes

A framework for achieving exceptional results

You've probably spent some time over the past few months creating your business plan to achieve the organizational strategic plan. Planning is an important component of achieving goals. You have to know where you want to go in order to make it happen. But how do you dust off your well-crafted plan and actually put it into action?

Many leaders confuse being busy with being productive. They get so caught up in the day to day activities and can't seem to find time to focus on strategic initiatives and gain traction. The cycle continues, and they feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and unsure of how to get their team into action.

To achieve exceptional results, you must create clarity for yourself and your team, and you need a framework for implementation.

One of the main reasons leaders don't achieve their business plan objectives is a lack of clarity. They come up with the ideas, but fail to translate them into specific actions and delegate them appropriately. Often they haven't taken the time to share the plan with their staff and neglect to develop a system to ensure the objectives are accomplished throughout the year.

With a simple framework, you can set yourself up to work smarter and more purposefully. The beginning of the year is a perfect time to align your team around the business objectives and create success. By following the practices below, you can develop a simple framework in under one hour that will ensure you stay focused on what's important and lead your team to a successful year.

Communicate the plan. It may sound obvious, but many leaders fail to communicate the business plan for their functional area with their managers or employees. Neglecting this step sends our staff in different directions with little understanding of what they should really be working on. It's easy to just keep the status quo and continue to get mediocre results when your team isn't crystal clear about how they should be spending their time. Start by scheduling a meeting to kick off the year with clarity and excitement as you share the vision, business goals and projects with your managers and staff. Explain why you are focusing on these goals this year, and how it will benefit them and the organization.

Schedule one strategic meeting a month. In his book Death by Meeting, Patrick Lencioni suggests a framework for meetings: quarterly off-site, monthly strategic, weekly tactical and daily check-in. This ensures your team has scheduled time for both strategic and operational discussions and it allows you to assess your progress often. Most leaders focus on tactical meetings and get bogged down in details and issues. A monthly strategic meeting will ensure you and your team are pulling back to see the bigger picture and keeping sight of the overall goals. This meeting is focused on discussing, analyzing, brainstorming and deciding on critical issues that affect long term success. Open your calendar now and schedule monthly strategy meetings with your team through the end of the year.

Schedule important events and appointments now. Most leaders allow their days to be filled by meetings, interruptions, emergencies and distractions and never seem to find time for important areas of leadership like coaching employees, attending industry events and personal development activities. Effective leaders make these important actions a priority and schedule them in their calendar at the beginning of the year. To reach your business goals, you need to ensure you are supporting and guiding your employees along the way. Don't push coaching sessions aside because you don't think you have time. Coaching and developing employees is important for them and important for you. Coaching increases productivity, engagement and success for employees, which translates into leadership success for you. Schedule recurring sessions in your calendar now for the rest of the year with each of your direct reports before your schedule fills up. Other important events to schedule now include conferences, professional development workshops and even vacations.

Create a delegation list. One of the most important skills of leadership is effective delegation. When you delegate, you free up your time to focus on more strategic projects and issues, and you empower your employees to take ownership. You cannot possibly complete everything in your business plan by yourself—you need other people to support your efforts. Start by reviewing your annual business plan and making a list of each project or task you can delegate, who you will delegate it to and the timeframe for completion. In your next coaching session with each employee, delegate the projects or tasks. Be sure to explain the "Why-What-When": why you need it (what strategic goal it ties to and the importance of that goal), what you need (providing any important instructions, parameters and background information), and by when (the deadline). Establish the appropriate check-in process to ensure you are kept in the loop.

 What is easy to do is also easy not to do. While these practices are simple, most leaders don't take the time to be purposeful and end up managing at a tactical level. A small amount of effort can lead to much better results. If you want to be an exceptional leader and achieve your business goals this year, you need to operate at a strategic level. Take one hour to implement these four practices, and you will have a system in place to lead you to success.

Laurie Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR, is a certified executive coach, leadership consultant and founder of Envision Excellence, LLC in the Washington, D.C., area. Her mission is to create exceptional cultures by teaching leaders how to be exceptional. Maddalena facilitates management and executive training programs and team-building sessions and speaks at leadership events. Prior to starting her business, she was an HR executive at a $450 million credit union. Contact her at 240.605.7940 or lmaddalena@envisionexcellence.net.

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