As the middle market strategy execution experts, we get asked a lot of questions about KPIs or Key Performance Indicators for firms to manage the metrics that matter. In fact, we get hundreds of thousands of yearly views on our KPI blog posts alone! Our comprehensive KPI Guide is one of the most valuable free resources that we offer to the middle market community free of charge to help companies determine the right set of KPIs for their business if they don’t have the resources to utilize our expertise and KPI dashboard software to create a balanced scorecard (BSC) of their performance.
At Rhythm Systems, we specialize in helping middle market companies achieve their dreams and goals. We believe that we can make a big impact on the world by helping our clients be successful in bringing their vision to life. We do this by using our methodology, experts and tools to help clients break through barriers and remove obstacles to their success.
In order to understand those obstacles better, we collected insights from over 900 CEOs about their biggest business challenges. We wanted to know what was keeping you up at night, and we found the results fascinating.
Top 10 Business Challenges Facing Today's CEOs:
By far, the most common business challenge reported is related to growth. CEOs worry about managing growth and growing predictably.
Next, CEOs are concerned about hiring, employee engagement, accountability, leadership and performance management.
Maintaining profitability and healthy cash flow is another very common theme from our middle market CEOs.
Sales and Marketing
Consistently delivering sales and marketing results came up frequently as a top challenge. How do you get the team to work cross-functionally?
Successfully executing new strategies, projects, and plans. How do you organize and lead the change initiatives across the company?
CEOs also report that aligning business units and people is a significant struggle. Getting on the same page is hard and staying on the same page in the fast paced business world is even harder. You need a system to keep the team aligned.
Developing the right strategic plan for future growth and effectively facilitating an effective planning meeting were among the top concerns.
CEOs additionally reported internal communication and collaboration as significant business challenges. This is even more challenging during the times of remote work, where communication and alignment also suffer if you don't have an operating system for your business.
Focusing on doing the right things to achieve clearly defined results. Priorities often change with changing business conditions, but management doesn't get their teams focused on the priorities for today, causing lots of re-work.
Developing and executing the right product, customer and growth strategies is also a top of mind as a challenge for CEOs. Many find extreme benefits in hiring a strategic planning facilitator for their expertise in getting an actionable strategy for the company and plans how to get there.
As I was scrolling through my social media feeds this week, I noticed a trend that more tech companies are announcing a permanent move to hybrid or even a “remote-first” approach for the indefinite future. As companies look to 2021 and make budgeting and resourcing decisions, it’s not a mystery why many are choosing to reduce investment in physical spaces and double down on the remote work infrastructure if their business model allows it. That means many of your meetings will be moving online to Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, Skype or any of the video conferencing applications available.
The Level 5 Leadership Stage is Set…
Have you ever had this "strange" feeling that you just couldn’t shake? I recently went through that. It was after a two-day Annual Planning Session with a newly formed executive team (the company had been through a major transition). It was a great two days but the reality is that as the session began, the “stage” was a bit of a mess because the executive team was fractured in their vision for the company. In spite of that, alignment and clarity of vision were created over those two days. But after the session, my reflective thinking left me feeling suspended inside. It was a strange feeling.
The strange feeling actually began to linger as the two day session ensued; it was just something I noticed but I couldn’t get my mind wrapped around what it was. It was subtle, non-obtrusive yet politely prominent. It just lingered. Upon reflective thinking after the session came the epiphany. It was the CEO. Yet, I still couldn’t pinpoint anything. So, I asked myself: What is it about this CEO that I can’t grasp? What is it?
Over the last few months, my husband and I have been re-watching AMC’s Mad Men, a show we started a long time ago and never finished in the flood of other enticing streaming content and demands of life with two small kids. While there is plenty of workplace behavior on this show that I by no means endorse, every once in a while, Don Draper drops in with a quote that makes me think. For example, in one episode, he says to his apprentice, Peggy, who’s struggling to come up with an idea for a client, “Just think about it deeply. Then forget it. And an idea will…jump up in your face.”
It got me thinking about how critical it is to prepare well for strategic planning, especially as most of our clients are in the midst of Q4 and Annual Planning. You can’t just show up in the meeting and hope inspiration will strike, and you’ll create the perfect strategy for navigating this challenging environment filled with uncertainty. You need to put the time in to really think, prepare well and clear your head in advance. Maybe then, with the right preparation and when you least expect it, inspiration will strike.
There is no better time than the present to work on completing your strategy. You may have wanted to nail down your work on core customer, brand promise or brand promise guarantee. You may need to review your core competencies and refresh the short list. Maybe you are getting close to reaching your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) and need to envision a new one.
As many people continue to work virtually, it creates the perfect opportunity to set aside time and schedule a virtual planning session or two. Working virtually allows more flexibility by allowing you to break sessions into 4-hour increments, if desired, and you can schedule the work over several weeks.
One of the best parts of our annual Breakthrough Conference is getting our Rhythm community together to live our core values of Keep Smart, Be Appreciative, Family is a Blessing, No TDC (Thinly Disguised Contempt) and Go the Second Mile. This year’s conference looked considerably different—while we weren’t able to showcase our southern hospitality by having our guests come to Charlotte and enjoy time together in person, we did have an amazing virtual learning experience last week.
Our first virtual conference was a whirlwind of amazing content, and I’ll be thinking about some of the presentations for a long time to come! We heard from amazing speakers and learned a ton from the attendees, as well. In the spirit of our Keep Smart core value, I’m here to share some of our audience’s key takeaways.
As you approach planning for another quarter, take a moment to check in on your 3-5 Year Strategy or what he calls Winning Moves. These are specific strategies that have the potential to double your revenue over the next 3-5 years. Many companies lose focus and momentum on these by only discussing them once a year during Annual Planning. Don't be one of them.
Many companies are tempted to power through the end of the year and see what happens. That approach could prove catastrophic for your business. Your people need to set goals for themselves; you can’t skip the planning process and hope to end 2020 successfully. As we head into 2020, be sure to slow down and engage in a team planning process to set goals together or you risk squandering focus and engagement in addition to missing the opportunity to end a difficult year on top.
A recent survey from SHRM found, "Work-related concerns left more than 40 percent of employees feeling hopeless, burned out or exhausted as they grapple with lives altered by COVID-19.” The survey found that younger workers (Generation Z) and women were more likely to report symptoms of depression, and only 7% of those experiencing symptoms had reached out to a mental health professional for help. As a leader in your company, your team’s mental health should be a top concern; your company can’t emerge from this crisis strong and ready for the future without a team that’s mentally fit.