Our company has fallen short of last quarter’s goals. Our leadership team is dedicated and passionate about the success of our organization. We have a strategic plan. We are questioning how this happened and how to get back on track? Do you have any suggestions?
–Where’s the Action?
Dear Where’s the Action,
I like the saying, “Honey Bees get praised while mosquitoes get swatted.” It is easy to look busy but what is actually being produced is a good question. Often the missing link between plans and results is execution. Strategy cannot be effectively planned without taking into account how to execute. Surprisingly the inability to execute is common in organizations of all sizes. We get side tracked with the day to day activities and miss the strategic mark. Or on the other end of the scale, we have a good number of high level thinkers who are not interested in the “how” of getting things done. There is a balance between strategic thinking and execution of results.
According to Dun and Bradstreet businesses in America fail due to lack of execution of the most important goals. We need to work toward the “right goals” that net the “right results”.
Some of the greatest leaders have an instinct for execution, not only can they see the big picture but they can see step by step what needs to happen to hit the mark. Unfortunately that instinct has not been cultivated in others or taught in the organization. For some it is difficult to make the connection in realizing the scope of what needs to be done to translate vision into specific tasks.
For example, when leaders are detached from subordinates their expectations may trend to be unrealistic. Leaders may not think to involve them with the plan of execution. As a result they are not equipped to deal with unexpected issues and strategies commonly fail.
The solution is to establishing a culture of execution that includes communication and accountability at all levels. Execution produces results when it is woven into the business. It becomes the driving force of the reward system and becomes the behavior that is practiced.
Execution is a discipline that equals growth and results. Execution can be development, not only in leaders but in every person in the organization.
In the New York Times Bestseller, Execution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, they define execution as a systematic process of rigorously discussing “hows” and “whats”, questioning, tenaciously following through and ensuring accountability.
Creating an Execution Culture
Alignment is essential to creating the framework for execution. It is the ability to clearly define priorities to maximize results as well as interrelate people, strategy and operations. Some organizations have no idea if what they do day to day are the activities that really drive the bottom line in a positive way. These companies are gambling with their future prosperity. Long term success comes from alignment and having the right people doing the right job.
Set clear goals and priorities. Leaders who execute focus on very few clear priorities. When you focus on a few priorities (three to four) you will typically produce the best results.
Ask clarifying questions. Don’t assume you know. Ask all levels of the organization for input as to what needs to be done to obtain the desired results.
Consistency and follow through. Clear, simple goals mean very little if nobody takes them seriously. Inconsistency and the lack of follow through are small foxes that will destroy the vine. Leaders who are consistent and follow through cultivate trust and results.
Reward the doers. If you expect people to produce specific results then you must reward those accordingly. Most organizations don’t do a good job of linking performance to rewards.
Be realistic. It is important to be realistic when establishing a culture that executes. Many organizations have people who try to get ahead by over promising. Being realistic will play a key role in building your team and arriving at your desire destination.
Tammy Holyfield is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker and Founder of Holyfield International, a business and personal development company. Her mission is to teach, empower and equip people to live their best life everyday. Tammy teaches techniques and strategies that are easy to understand and put to use immediately to achieve greater results. Connect with Tammy on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/tammyholyfield or email her email@example.com