It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Okay, I don’t want to create “holiday creep” where Christmas decorations are out even before the Thanksgiving dinner is over, but as they say, "the early bird gets the worm." I am sure that you already have your Annual Planning Session done, or at least on your calendar, right? If you haven’t already done so, get it on the calendar now, while you can still accommodate the tight schedules of the leadership team. The execution gap, by definition, means that you aren't getting the most out of your team.
Teams go into these sessions with lots of questions on their mind. How will we make our plan better this year? Were we able to accomplish most of your goals from the prior year? Were we able to execute on the plan? Where did we run into roadblocks? What assumptions did we forget to test? Luckily, the team still has a little time left to hit this year’s goals, but let’s use what we've learned from this year’s plan to set ourselves up for success next year.
Working on hundreds of plans with Rhythm Systems' clients, we have found that many people don’t take the extra step to get their plans Execution Ready. They get all of the items in that they want to accomplish in the year, but don’t take the time to make sure that they’ll have the proper energy available to accomplish all of the goals. Keep in mind that this isn’t a long wish list of everything you could hope to accomplish in a single year, it is an Annual Plan. We don’t want just to set goals; we want to create a plan that will get us there.
So, what can you do to make sure your plans are easier to execute this year?
- Run 4 great "13 Week Races"
- Annual Planning is about reviewing strategy, setting targets, and determining the right 3-5 Key Initiatives that will move the company closer to achieving it's long-term goals. Quarterly Planning is about execution. Break your Annual Plan down into four great "Execution Ready" Quarterly Plans.
- Set clear goals
- Don’t leave any room for ambiguity; everybody needs to be on the same page with explicit goals and an unambiguous definition of success. Make sure all of your KPIs and Priorities are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.
- Get everyone aligned
- Share your plan with other departments so the whole team is rowing in the same direction. Everyone should know thee top 3 to 5 objectives of their department and the company. Repetition is the helpful, but we also know that companies that use a theme for each year have better recognition.
- Schedule strong meeting rhythms
- Things change quickly in business, make sure that you meet regularly to make the necessary adjustments to meet your goals at your weekly team meeting. Focus on the obstacles that come up and the adjustments the team can make, not on the individual brave enough to bring a problem to the table! Our most successful clients have strong daily, weekly and monthly meeting rhythms.
- Use dashboards for quick visual references and accountability
- Dashboards give a clear overview of performance on a single page. Use this to focus on the areas that need improvement or things that are going well that can be replicated in other areas of your business.
And remember it isn’t too early to come up with your New Year’s resolution. How about this year you make it to close the execution gap and accomplish your most important initiatives for 2019? It would make a nice present to yourself for the next holiday season!
Happy Planning! -Ted Skinner
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