Executing Strategic Plans: 5 Guiding Principles

Executing Strategic Plans: 5 Guiding Principles

The Dallas Business Journal had a story about FITCO, a twelve year-old company. In the August 2013 article, CEO Jason Kos said his goal is to take his $20 million company to $100 million in the next six years. What’s his game plan? “We want to make sure people are in the right place doing the things they want to focus on to enhance their engagement and their life. We want our employees to feel like the company really cares,” Kos told the DBJ.

The sentiments this CEO expresses bring to mind the words of execution management expert Wayne Nelsen. “People think that if they have happy and competent employees they’ll succeed. It’s a noble but flawed concept. They’ll succeed when they get done what they need to get done,” he says. There’s gap in most businesses. And it is the gap between their ability to develop a strategic plan and their ability to achieve it. Many times we see CEO’s approach planning as an event. Then when the off-site concludes, they’re pulled back into the day-to-day and subsequently feel like their plan comes off the rails.

man_on_cliff_gap-resized-261According to Fortune Magazine less than 10% of strategies effectively formulated are implemented effectively. More than half of business leaders recognize this gap but even more disturbing, 64% lack confidence in their organization’s ability to close that gap.

Here are five principles that differentiate companies that make their plans from those that don’t. 1) Companies good at executing believe that the first right of every employee is to know what is expected of them.

  • They do not give short shrift to the process of defining the outcomes of the individual’s job. This is one way they get employee accountability. They know that building staff buy in or engagement improves when goals are linked to organizational priorities.

2) Execution happens at the individual level.

  • Managers must link at least some of an individual’s goals to the organization’s top priorities.
  • All employees in an organization deserve to understand the company’s initiatives and the connection of their efforts to the overall.

3) Employees must create their own commitments.

  • When employees author their performance agreements based on their understanding of their job and conversations with their boss, the level of engagement changes. A manager’s explanation whether verbal or written simply does not lead to the same level of understanding and commitment. (Get a free white paper on drafting Performance Agreements by selecting “”White Paper””).

There must be a regular cadence of communication.Progress meetings need to occur monthly, with the Performance Agreement’s commitments forming the agenda for a dialogue. The tone must move from the “”judgment”” realm to one of a candid but helpful coaching conversation.

5) You need a process to collect and report on each company initiative’s status at least monthly.

  • Keeping the status of a company initiative front and center uses two powerful tools of any CEO: collective intelligence and peer pressure.
  • It also achieves a goal of giving top management actionable intelligence that’s current enough to effect action.

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