In any industrial company, there are business goals to hit, KPIs to measure and OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to complete. In manufacturing companies, the business goals and KPIs carry a different weight because of the raw material costs, labor costs, supply chain issues, and other factors involved in getting your product to market. Strategic planning has a special role in manufacturing so you know where your business is starting from and what end goal you want to achieve. Quarterly planning is key in accomplishing those targets.
It’s an interesting experiment to informally poll your friends and ask them about their planning habits. Do they plan on a daily basis? Weekly? Digitally? Analog? Cruise through YouTube and see how bullet journaling is the new scrapbooking and you’ll see there’s no end to how you can plan. It’s hard to argue with the logic that planning out your day gives you a better chance of accomplishing what you set out to do. Sure, there are days that go off the rails, but that can happen in any business. Having a plan will help you roll with those unexpected scenarios and keep everything on track to hit your goals.
Team meetings are a key component of a business. It’s important that the employees know and understand what’s going on with the business and what expectations they need to meet in order for the company to be successful.
How does your team react to the weekly meeting? Is it a task they dread? Do they welcome the break from their desks? Do they get frustrated because every single meeting always seems to be about the concerns of one single person? Do the meeting participants believe it is time well spent? We have found that companies that take control of their meetings get a huge return on their investment with high employee engagement.
Milestones throughout the year give us an opportunity to recalibrate and look at areas that need improvement. For the crowds at the gym in January, it’s the New Year’s Resolution to get in shape or lose some weight. For students, it’s the school supply sale in August, a fresh bag of school supplies and possibilities for a great year ahead.
For businesses, when do you stop and recalibrate, beyond your own quarterly and annual meetings to check progress on your long term goal? What’s next? Do you have a goal in mind that makes you take a big gulp if you even dare to say it out loud? If so, you’ve got the beginnings of a Big Hairy Audacious Goal or BHAG (pronounced bee-hag.) Congratulations! You’re getting ready to push your company forward in a big way, but in order to do that, you need to give yourself some time to plan and strategize.
Managing the daily, weekly, and monthly workload is a challenge for team members and leaders alike, but in very different ways. Teams have their KPIs and know what tasks they need to complete in order to achieve those goals. Team leaders and managers have the added tasks around team goals, team KPIs, other issues and other team projects that round out their to-do lists. The difference is that leaders have people to delegate to on their team that can complete the task.
An acquaintance of mine has recently undergone a merger at her corporation. As a mid-level employee, she knew it was coming; her company had announced a few months ago, but she hadn't heard any specific details other than it was going to happen.
When the time came for the companies to merge, there was confusion, misalignment, and miscommunication. Unfortunately when merging companies, often preparing employees for coming change has been left off the agenda or is an afterthought. Trust me that it is just as important, if not more so, to make the teams are prepared for the merger as it is to worry about day to day operations.
I hear time and time again from people that their meetings are a complete waste of time. In fact, they can often be a huge productivity killer. When I dig deeper, I can easily find out why. They typically don’t accomplish anything - the team gets together, but they don’t work on solving the problems facing the company. Team members often update the status of their pet projects, highlighting their accomplishments and glossing over the challenges. Many people get the feeling of Groundhog Day as they talk about the same topics time after time and never make any progress on the real, pressing issues facing the company. However, they don’t get the comedic genius of the great Bill Murray to keep them entertained during their problem solving meeting. It doesn’t have to be that way. There is a better way to run weekly <strong>problem solving meetings</strong> to get real work done in their team meeting.
Leadership 101 tells us that it’s important to set clear and specific goals for ourselves and for our teams in order to achieve business goals and objectives. In other words, all of our business goals should be “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.) In order to craft a good smart goal, you need to take a couple of steps back and look at the whole picture - why are you doing this? The best SMART goals always start with “why.” Are you taking an educated guess at what you think a good goal is going to be that will equate to business success? Are you confident enough in defending that guess to someone else? If you fully understand the “why” behind the project, it is much easier for you to define your time-based goals. Goal setting theory clearly states that the better you write your SMART goals, the better your team will perform.
"Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts." -Arnold Bennett
Whether you or an external force initiated the changes that are about to take place, preparation is essential for you and your organization. Change management tools can be the catalyst for immense success or supreme failure.
Early on in the process, develop a think rhythm about the future adjustments, the impacts of change management, and an employee focus. Change management is much harder than project management or business processes, as you are dealing with human beings that have feelings that they bring to the workplace.
In my last blog, I talked about how most meetings suck. Now, I want to focus our energy on ways that we can fix them and have effective meetings. One of the biggest complaints that I hear about bad meetings is the lack of an agenda or getting it two minutes prior to the meeting. While having a meeting without an agenda is horrifying, I have attended several bad meetings that had a detailed agenda sent well ahead of time! The problem was that the agenda didn’t cover all of the areas that the company needed to discuss in order to grow their business. It isn’t just having an agenda; it is about having the right management meeting agenda template focused on solving problems.