The purpose of this short blog is to provide another angle over some best practices that could drive the team’s performance towards meeting their goals.
Set a uniform language and process to plan and track progress
Achieving specific goals is similar to running a major project – timely activities, milestones, resources, budgets all closely intertwined and affecting the goal’s performance. After all, we don’t expect doing nothing and that by an act of wonder the goal will be achieved.
I believe we all agree that the project management establishment generates uniformity in process and language towards delivering a complex set of tasks. From my experience, business units are not particularly thrilled with running their business as projects, so an inherited challenge lays in the way you build a plan and track its execution.
To enable a clear plan and being able to effectively track execution, you cannot avoid using a digital tool, preferably simple and concise that would allow contextual collaboration among the team members (both internal and external parties).
Look outside you’re domain and set up clear and effective communication channels
In their “Strategy execution myths” HBR brilliantly describes “When asked to identify the single greatest challenge to executing their company’s strategy, 30% cite failure to coordinate across units, making that a close second to failure to align (40%). Managers also say they are three times more likely to miss performance commitments because of insufficient support from other units than because of their own teams’ failure to deliver.”
When other units are involved in delivery related with your plan, than a good mean to improve effective communication would be setting up a formal kick off meeting and timely review meetings. The plan’s purpose is to define the correlation between what is required to be done in order to meet the goals define, ensuring commitment towards delivery milestones.
Setting up milestones should be in the right balance to enable adequate control without micro-managing the internal and external stakeholders. It is crucial to define the touch point of “external” deliverables and milestone with your plan and communicate those clearly to the external units.
Generating a virtual team around the goal operation generates a gentle hook that would further drive accountability even when the stake-holder is outside your unit.
Set accountability using a cause and effect model
KPIs generate crystal clear accountability towards defined results, but when we try to build a model in which certain activities will affect the KPI success, assigning accountability toward deliverables may be sometimes challenging especially if the delivery is done outside your business unit.
When you run your kick off meeting, plan ahead how you wish to incrementally progress your goal each month. Now think what should be delivered each month and how it should affect the goal. Additionally, set dependencies between the deliverables and make sure the accountable members are aware of it.
That’s it! In this kick off meeting the person related with the timely delivery is well aware that he is accountable for the overall success and his peer’s timely delivery. So now the ground is set for your controller to communicate status on a timely basis.
This foundation of clarity (if possible visual) is a practical hook toward accountability.
Focus on the deliverables and don’t micro manage
Your management team is diverse. There are those you fully trust and those you feel more careful attention should be invested to ensure their success.
To avoid drifting into micro managing the deliverables / activities, my best recommendation is to set uniformity over the minimal viable product, on one hand make sure you track the delivery in agreed check-points (milestones) and make sure reporting and control procedure apply to all, but don’t let the variance in managerial maturity drive you down to micro-management that would drive accountability off your management team and potentially antagonize the management team.
Last but not least, we are in midst of a cultural revolution driven by “digital” – capitalize on it!
This will drive your team towards better planning, tracking and cross the board communication!