I’ve just finished reading John Doerr’s book, Measure What Matters: OKRs - The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth, and it is full of really practical goal-setting tips and great stories from real companies like Intel, Google, and even a few smaller companies. What struck me throughout the book, though, is that the companies in many of these stories rely on spreadsheets, documents saved in company intranets, or even Post-it Notes hung up in their offices (and in one story, by the toilet) for communicating the goals. Using a spreadsheet or paper-based process for OKRs is like parking your Ferrari on a busy street under a tree on garbage day. Why would you risk ruining something so beautiful as a well-written goal with poor communication and accountability?
My last blog, 6 Excuses for Avoiding an Executive Coach (and Why You Should Think Again) talked about all the negative internal chatter (aka, excuses) we give ourselves for not wanting to have an Executive Coach. That blog also pointed out some of the key business benefits of Executive Coaching. What do some of those benefits actually look like and how do I know if I need executive leadership coaching? More specifically what is coaching ROI?
The famous mountain climber, Phil Powers, said it best during an interview on NPR’s "This I Believe” segment: “Concentrating on how I move through the world is important. It’s why I reach mountain summits and life goals with energy to spare.”
As a best practice, Powers uses a concept taught to him by his mentor, Paul Petzoldt. Penzoldt recommended a ‘rest’ (i.e., a slight pause) with each climbing step taken. It allows a climber to move swiftly, yet still find a brief pause in every step. The cadence of this sequence creates, in the end, a higher degree of forward-movement with what seems like less effort.
Most leaders dive into leadership without a second thought. I love the optimism that comes when people find themselves suddenly leading people (vs. tasks and initiatives they’ve been responsible for completing). The problem, though, is that most leaders simply don’t see the impact their leadership approach has on those around them (positive or negative). They don’t pause while climbing the mountain of business objectives for a rest step. They don’t give themselves quick moments of pause that allow for slowing just enough to gain the energy to keep moving forward.
Couple this lack of ‘pause’ with how fast everything moves in today’s world. Every motion, every thought, every piece of information we gain in a 24/7 world makes the concept of ‘pause’ seem ridiculous. It can even make us feel unworthy, lost, and unproductive and some senior leaders aren't wired to slow down to speed up. Senior leaders learning to skill to stop to think and focus on long term strategy is a huge part of their leadership development. Executive coaching, and the coaching relationship, is a good way to hold yourself accountable to developing these new habits.
What is a huddle meeting? The daily huddle meeting has been common practice for many companies for ages. No matter your industry (manufacturing, healthcare, technology, etc.) or size, a daily team huddle can be a good idea to increase alignment, communication, and productivity for your teams. According to an article in Inc magazine, huddles "keep companies focused on the same strategic goals, ensure timely answers to pressing questions, and enforce team accountability because everyone knows what everyone else is up to." The face to face time every 24 hours keeps team members aligned and on task.
What's the difference between KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and Quarterly Rocks? This can be a very confusing question, especially for companies who are new to using the Rockefeller Habits or Rhythm's Think Plan Do as a methodology to grow their company and drive their execution. It can be confusing at first as there are some similarities between the two. Both use clear success criteria to measure results or desired behavior, and quarterly rocks (often called priorities or projects) can often influence the success of the KPIs and metrics you are monitoring.
From a leadership perspective, there’s a real thirst for increasing leadership accountability. Executives have recently asked me various questions that linger over the concept of building team accountability to help them achieve their strategic plans while creating high performing teams:
“How do I build accountability in teams?”
“What else can I do to get people to do what we need them to do?”
“How can I hold a team member to be held accountable and still be seen as a good leader?”
"How do I balance leadership accountability and personal accountability when building a team?"
"Creating a culture of accountability is hard, how do I provide constructive feedback without being the bad guy?"
Building team accountability requires that we understand a few dynamics because it’s more complicated than we might recognize. It goes above and beyond the responsibility for the outcomes, which is obviously important, but effective leaders know that they need a culture of accountability in their teams that provide the inputs needed to achieve the expected team performance.
Job Scorecards (or employee scorecards) have been a hot topic recently. Many companies are looking for a way to provide more constant and balanced feedback and coaching to employees, instead of just an annual review. The scorecard approach allows company managers to achieve their strategic objectives.
The truth is, traditional annual performance reviews can be riddled with anxiety. Many times employees perceive a connection to salary or a raise, which is stressful for everyone. The true value of a performance review - an opportunity for development and coaching - is often missed. The role and goal clarity that the employee scorecard provides enables managers to be more involved in employee performance.
Sounds like a simple concept: Alignment. What makes this so hard to achieve? The fact is, if you are hiring the right people, you will have a lot of smart people on your team who disagree with each other. This is a good thing. Alignment doesn’t mean that everyone starts on the same page; if that were true, then you’d just have a bunch of robots running around who all think the same way and who never challenge your ideas or come up with anything creative, interesting, or groundbreaking.
Difference of opinion among your team members is a key ingredient in developing the right strategies for your team, the ones that have been analyzed from different angles and debated in your planning sessions. However, when the dust settles and the decision has been made, this is where alignment takes over from diversity of viewpoints as the key to your strategy’s success or failure.
If you are like many of our clients, you may be considering adjusting travel plans for your team in the midst of the concern surrounding COVID-19. This will obviously have a big impact on most businesses, which makes it more important than ever to prioritize your team’s quarterly planning meeting. You’ll need to spend time thinking about the impacts to your team and your business, so even if you are canceling travel, don’t cancel your session! This is likely to be the most important virtual strategy session in the history of your company - even if you can't meet face to face. You need to be agile to respond to the ever-changing market conditions while creating your 3-5 year strategic plans.
After recently reviewing thousand of Annual Plans and Quarterly Plans, I can say without a doubt that improving employee engagement seems to be top of mind for everyone this year. How on earth do you keep today's dynamic and diverse employees happy, engaged and productive? It's the million dollar question that we ask ourselves year after year.
According to Gallup, companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147%. Gallup also concluded that 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged. So, how do you know if your company is on the right side of those statistics? You need to start measuring employee engagement KPIs this quarter so that you can keep your A Players and reduce employee turnover. This is not just a function for the human resources department, the best team managers measure employee satisfaction KPIs on their teams.