Jack asked me to review his execution plan. His team was missing their profit and revenue goals, and he wanted to figure out the problem and get his company back on a positive path. His initial instinct was to question if he had the right execution plan. Did he have the right goals or objectives coupled with the right KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to track and measure their success? His second question was whether their growth strategies were working. I asked him why he was thinking that way.
Jack shared, “Well, we missed our profit goals, and we are not delivering to customers on time. You’ve taught us that missing our profit number is an indication that execution might be the problem. And revenues are also not growing as well as we had planned for the year. You’ve also taught us to review our strategy if we are not able to grow revenue well.”
When you miss your profit and revenue growth goals, it is painful and you need to make the right adjustments and get back on to the path of success. But, how do you know if it is a strategy issue, an execution issue, or a people issue?
I have observed that difficulty in growing revenues is often due to poor competitive strategies that lead us to review and improve our strategy decisions. But sometimes that is not the case. Our strategy might be fine, and the problem might be poor execution. It might be because we do not have solid execution plans that deliver on our strategies in a timeframe that allows us to have a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Likewise, missing profit goals is often because we did not have good execution - clear goals and roles with strong alignment and effective rhythms to actually execute the plan, do the work, and reap the fruits! Or it may be due to issues in the people circle. You might have a good execution plan, but your team might not be executing the plan due to poor leadership, lack of accountability, or poor skill fit to do the work.
In many cases, I have found the last scenario to be true - even with good strategy and a good execution plan, results can still be poor due to people issues. This does not mean that you have poor employees and you need to fire them all. It might mean that you have a combination of leadership, accountability and job skill deficits that result in missed deadlines and missed numbers. People issues are often mis-diagnosed as execution issues. And in these cases, even after improving your execution plan with clear Red-Yellow-Green success criteria, performance and results still do not improve because we have not dealt with the root cause issues. How often have you spent precious energy dealing with symptoms? And when you finally figure out the root cause, your other symptoms disappeared and you achieved the goals that you wanted to achieve?
This why I am hosting a special CEO session to help CEOs diagnose and make good people decisions. I hope to see you at our Breakthrough Conference next month to talk about how to take the right actions today to build your dream team for tomorrow. I look forward to a robust discussion and helping you make breakthroughs on the people side to help you achieve your profit and revenue growth goals.
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