While each planning session is different, I’ve seen firsthand that companies wrestle with performance issues in similar ways. Exceptional companies succeed by following principles and practices that are similar regardless of the age of the organization, its geographic location (including managing a distributed workforce), industry and size.
Savvy leaders make sure the plans they put in place help their teammates navigate the challenges that block, hinder or prevent the high level of performance leaders say they want.
Ten years ago I developed a list of the ten biggest performance hurdles all companies face.
The list is still valid today, so here it is again.
In the meantime, here are the ten hurdles that trip leaders as they work to turn their plan into profits. You can download for free The Top 10 Performance Hurdles.
Here are the 10 performance hurdles:
Goals fail to address meaty issues or they’re unattainable. You and your team must discuss and fix the real problems that hinder performance. Sugarcoating problems won’t help you improve. And while I support the notion of a “stretch goal,” your team must believe there’s a reasonable chance whatever goals you set. Nothing kills morale faster than a target that’s impossible to hit.
Goals are poorly defined and lack clarity. Without specific, measurable objectives, you and your team will be unable to track organizational, departmental and individual performance. Your best employees want to see progress.
Lack of real commitment to the plan. The leadership team must commit to executing the plan that’s been developed otherwise don’t expect the rest of the organization to execute the plan. Without commitment, it will be back to business as usual within 30 days, and your planning session will have been a huge waste of time.
Lack of clear responsibilities with the right people. Your plan must clearly and concisely articulate Who is doing What by When for How Much for what Expected Result. Lack of clarity equals Lack of accountability. If you have the right people on your team, they love accountability and recognize it’s a support system for winners.
Wrong people in the right positions…or right people in the wrong positions. Companies historically hire for skill and fire for attitude. What would happen to performance in your organization if you reversed this thinking? Is it possible some of your good people are in the wrong positions or working for the wrong people? The best way to signal your trust in your most talented people is to give them more responsibility.
Lack of money to execute. Your most significant priorities should command your greatest budget investment. If these priorities are important, it’s time to either allocate the money to make them happen or to stop pretending they matter.
Lack of time to execute. Proper planning helps you identify the three or four most significant priorities that will deliver the results you want. I use an exercise called “Deal the Cards” that helps leadership teams pinpoint and agree on the most important priorities. If you’re interested in this exercise, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the exercise.
Lack of discipline to execute the plan. The plan may need to be adapted, but don’t get distracted from executing your plan by the next “great idea.” Too many “great ideas” will dilute your performance. Plans fail when there are too many great ideas, not too few. Learn to say “no” or “not now.”
Failure to set and follow performance consequences. How do you reward achievement? How do you address under-performance? Do your people know what’s in it for them? Reward those that perform. Address under-performers or risk setting a double-standard that will demotivate your stars and invite them to take their skills elsewhere.
Changing market conditions. Yes, this is a big hurdle. War. Inflation. Regulations. Recession. Scarcity of talent. But of the ten hurdles that block effective performance, the first nine are within your direct control. You can decide how good you want to be. If you don’t enjoy a 50% or better share of the market, stop blaming market conditions and get to work.
Stop the Insanity We’re all familiar with Einstein’s quote about insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
The problems that strangle organizational effectiveness are the same ones I see over and over again.
So stop the insanity in your organization. Break the cycle. Fix the problems that strangle effectiveness.
About the Author:Greg Bustin advises some of the world’s most admired companies and leaders, and he’s dedicated a career to working with CEOs and the leadership teams of hundreds of companies in a range of industries. He’s facilitated more than 250 strategic planning sessions, he’s delivered more than 600 keynotes and workshops on every continent except Antarctica, and he coaches leaders who are inspired to take their career to the next level. His fourth leadership book— Accountability: The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture (McGraw-Hill) —is a Soundview Executive Best Business Book.