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 sounds so simple. But, I was just discussing scaling up meeting rhythms with one of my colleagues, and she told me that it took her last company three years to get into a cadence of meetings that actually accelerated their team's progress! They learned through a lot of trial and error (and probably a lot of wasted time in meetings that were unnecessary and some productive time lost catching up in hallway conversations when a meeting was needed but didn't happen).
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You’re a couple of months into your 2019 annual plans - the honeymoon phase. Your annual plan still looks good, you’re excited to see it as often as possible, can’t stop talking about it, probably taking annoying selfies with your plan. I get it - it’s pretty exciting. You are bound to learn throughout the year things you didn’t know about your plan when you first fell in love. Perhaps the way it's executed isn’t the way you would do it, or others aren’t excited about it and it’s bringing you down - making you second guess.
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?"
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.
You can make an argument that your company’s annual planning meeting is the most important thing you do all year. Each of your quarterly execution plans will anchor off of the decisions you make during the yearly planning meeting, and those quarterly plans are what drive the focus of your team’s weekly and daily execution. Plus, your Annual Plan has to move your company’s long-term strategic goals forward and be aligned to your core foundational strategy. Not to mention that you usually have your company’s most expensive leadership team in the room for one or two days - the cost is high and there’s a lot riding on this important business planning meeting. Don't worry, we have over a dozen years of experience in strategic planning meetings, and we can help get you on the right track.
Are your meetings the butt of work-related jokes? Why is it that we roll our eyes with disdain when our calendar is loaded with meetings, and more specifically, why do we dread the planning meetings that are so important to our strategic success? Let me ask, have you used senior team members as facilitators? If so, you’ve very likely chosen the wrong facilitator. Save yourself a bad decision before your next planning session. Don’t choose your CEO or an executive team member for strategic planning facilitation. If you do, you’ll pay for it all year (or quarter) based on the plan developed and the pain to get there. Most executives are great at their jobs, but they don't have all of the qualities of a good facilitator. When you are in charge, it is hard to be an active listener, which is extremely important to bring out all of the great ideas from the team.
High performance teams are critical to success in today's fast-paced and ever-changing business environment. In order to remain competitive, it is imperative that organization's build high performance capacity. Some common characteristics of high performing teams include:
Executive Weekly Meeting Team Size
For the most effective weekly team meeting, your weekly leadership meeting team should consist of 8-10 people. If your group is too large, consider who truly should be part of the executive team meeting. Perhaps some people should participate at the departmental team-level weekly staff meeting only if they aren't part of the strategic planning process. You can always invite them into the executive meeting when they have an important project that you need to discuss when it is time for an important update or discussion.
Executive Meeting Framework
Also, the executive team should be using your Quarterly Plan as the framework for the meeting. The plan should consist of 3-5 Strategic Company Initiatives and 3-5 Personal Priorities each. Owners of those Priorities should have statused them Red, Yellow or Green prior to the Weekly Leadership Team Meeting. You need to discuss long term growth initiatives, not just the "urgent" items from your daily firefighting that need to go through the executive decision making process.
Verne Harnish notes in his book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits that the difference between organizational vision and organizational alignment as drivers toward success is a whopping 99%. He demonstrates that vision = 1%, while alignment = 99%.