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Creating an Effective Business Operation System [Part 8]

Process Management

The BOS Implementation Strategy

Over the past seven weeks, we have discussed the key elements and five essential pillars of an effective Business Operating System (BOS). Now let’s talk about an easy way to incorporate the BOS framework into your business. 

There are seven specific steps you should take to implement this Business Operating System:

Business Operating System: Step 1

The first step is to clarify who you are going to work with to implement your BOS framework over time. In the beginning, the focus will be on tightening up the planning and documentation. You want to keep this within a small group; often it can just be one other person to share your ideas with. When you feel prepared and ready to begin having weekly meetings, you will then want to include your direct reports. There are situations in larger companies where it can make sense to add a few more people who oversee key activities within your company but mainly they should be your direct reports.

Business Operating System: Step 2

Developing your company’s core values, vision, mission statement and USP is a key component of the BOS framework. These may continue to evolve over time, but initially, they need to be good enough to encapsulate what the company stands for. Another part of the company documentation that needs to be established is the longer-term strategic plan with a future view of between 3 and 10 years. How are you going to achieve your lofty goals? You want enough substance and motivation to give your plan some credibility.

Once this longer-term strategy feels credible you are ready for Step 3

Business Operating System: Step 3

The next step in the process is to clarify your next one-year financial goals and objectives. These need to be both compelling and strategic. Once again, these can be strengthened and adapted over time.

Business Operating System: Step 4

Creating or improving your company scorecard will allow you to identify and discuss what the critical activities and numbers within your business structure need to be and who is responsible for them. Once again, the key is not to achieve perfection in this, but rather to develop a starting point from which you can continually evolve.  

Business Operating System: Step 5

With the first four steps completed, you are now ready to initiate your weekly management meetings. This first meeting should introduce the objectives and strategies for the meeting and with each subsequent meeting the agenda should become an ever-stronger guide to productive meetings that promote individual accountability.

Business Operating System: Step 6

The next logical step after your first 90 days is to conduct the first quarterly meeting. This will give you the chance to identify a clear set of key quarterly ‘rocks’ or objectives for each team member that will align with accomplishing the company’s one-year goals. It will also provide you a bit more motivation and urgency to improve upon the company declarations and longer-term goal definitions.

Business Operating System: Step 7

The final step is to continue refining each of the previous steps of this management process over time. Within a short period, this strategy will take shape and need less, if any ongoing development. From this firm foundation, it is now possible to begin enhancing the people and process management strategies and disciplines within your business.  

Conclusion

By following my previous blogs and implementing them through this framework, your business will develop more transparency and efficiency. With the Business Operating System applied to your company at a management level, it is now also possible to develop similar operating frameworks at every level of your business.

We hope this process sounds both practical and achievable. Just like in business, a good idea is almost worthless without dedicated execution.  

By effectively implementing these steps, you will develop:

  • a strategy to generate better execution results, helping you to work smarter, not harder  
  • a stronger team of focussed, motivated and talented individuals working to the same goals
  • a more valuable company by being able to demonstrate a proven framework for strong ongoing company performance.

Feel free to contact us with any questions along the way and, as always, enjoy the process! 

Discover More Blogs From Better Execute:

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Weekly Management Meetings | Blind Spots Part Three

5 Common Blind Spots Leaders Have Are Not Seeing How To:

Company Planning Collaborative Accountability

The aim of this blog series is to remove these common business leader blind spots by focusing your attention on each issue and bringing visibility and understanding to concepts that will be easier to see and, therefore, improve over time. Let’s take a look at the benefits of Collaborative Accountability.

Blind Spot #3 – Not Seeing the Value In Weekly Management Meetings

This article focuses on the third of five blind spots many business owners have when trying to grow from 5 to 50 employees. In a previous article, we discussed the first blind spot which was around not seeing the value of consistent company planning and the second blind spot focusing on how to maintain employee accountability.

The third blind spot lies in not realising the value and importance of a weekly management meeting. Many jokes are made about meetings because good meetings are hard to come by, but when done well, an efficient, well-executed weekly management meeting is an absolute game-changer.   

Do you struggle to see the value in weekly management meetings? If so, it is typically because you don’t feel you and your team have time to meet, when staying ‘productive’ seems to be a more practical use of your time. Another common issue is the feeling that meetings aren’t very productive. Last but not least, a leader can feel it is difficult, possibly even painful, trying to facilitate a meeting week over week when it seems to be a repetition of the previous week’s topics.

Truth be told, all those things can be legitimate challenges of past meetings, but it doesn’t have to be that way, and when weekly meetings are run well they will raise both the economic and productivity aspects of your business.  

What’s required to create effective weekly management meetings?  

Defining the format of your weekly management meeting is essential. Whether it is the staff included or the structure and schedule of the meeting itself, clearly planning each aspect is vital, and surprisingly simple. The following four steps will ensure that you not only hold an efficient meeting, you will also find exceptional value in it and recognise it as a fundamental and productive part of every single week.

Weekly Management Meetings

Step 1: Decide on who should be in the weekly management meetings

If you have less than 10 employees it is likely everyone should be in the meeting. When the company grows, it can be reduced to the managers of the various departments. This is the team that needs to understand and fortify where you want the company to go.  Without this clarity, it is nearly impossible for them to make the best day-to-day decisions on how to achieve the results you want from them. Many accountability issues stem from a lack of understanding rather than a low level of commitment.

Step 2 – Prepare for your weekly management meetings

You should have two key company documents and strategies in place: 

1. Your quarterly and yearly goals. You will need to know where you want the company to go before you can begin having effective weekly meetings.  These plans should include two key elements:

2.  The core financial numbers that often include revenue, gross profit and sometimes a more net profit type of number like EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Tax).  Ideally, some KPIs (key performance indicators) can also be included but we don’t need to get too fancy out of the gate.  

3.  The critical projects the company needs to complete by the end of the quarter (or any 90-day cycle) to be able to hit the desired financial and strategic targets. Often in management books, these ‘projects’ are referred to as “Rocks” and we do the same in our management consulting practice. Rock identification and completion is a topic unto itself but for the purpose of this article, we will keep the concept to the identification of how the company can most practically improve over the next 90 days to best move it towards its desired outcomes (vision, mission, BHAG, 1-3 year goals, etc.).  

Step 3 – Have a practical company scorecard

Ultimately, you want to have a scorecard that monitors all relevant aspects of company performance but that often takes some time and effort to get right. Start with some basic numbers that offer an overarching projection of your company’s health. For example, your company revenue may seem like a valid number to track on your scorecard, but it is a ‘lagging indicator’. It doesn’t shed much light on how the company is performing this week because it requires invoice and/or money collection and demonstrates how the sales team was performing last month and your marketing the month before that. When you try to pick a few initial scorecard numbers to track it is often more effective to use more ‘leading indicators’ such as the number of proposals submitted or the number of new qualified opportunities for a projected period.  

Regardless of which numbers you pick, begin measuring and documenting something consistently. There is a very good reason great business people consistently say, “what gets measured gets managed.” When you don’t measure with practical numbers you have no objective measuring stick for providing performance feedback.  

Step 4 – Use a proven meeting formula

There is no reason to reinvent the wheel. Great weekly management meetings have the same attributes:

    1. They happen the same time every week.
    2. They start on time and end on time.
    3. They stay on topic and are not allowed to devolve into unfocused dialogue.
    4. They have a consistent agenda that includes:
      1. Starting on a note of gratitude or positivity.
      2. Review the week’s performance scorecard – regardless of how simple initially
      3. Share employee / team and customer headlines for the week
      4. Review the status of this quarter’s “Rocks” or projects.
      5. Review the To Do’s that were identified in the previous meeting(s) to ensure completion and accountability.
      6. Discuss the key issues, opportunities and topics that have come up over the previous week
      7. Rate the meeting on a scale of 1-5 on whether it provided value for the individuals attending and rating the meeting.
    5. At the end of each 90-day period, a day-long planning meeting is utilised to update the Goals and Rocks and have a longer session to unpack bigger opportunities and challenges facing the company.

In conclusion, weekly management meetings are often not seen as critical to a company’s success but this is due to a blind spot created by a history of negative meeting experiences. 

By following the four steps outlined above, any existing blindspot will quickly and permanently be removed creating a new opportunity for greater employee accountability and buy-in along with significantly higher company performance.  

Until next time, enjoy the process!

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Company Planning & Execution | Blind Spots Part One

5 Common Blind Spots Leaders Have Are Not Seeing How To:

Company Planning

The aim of this blog series is to remove these common business leader blind spots by focusing your attention on each issue and bringing visibility and understanding to concepts that will be easier to see and, therefore, improve over time.

Blind Spot #1 – Disregarding the importance of Company Planning

To be clear, “Company Planning” for our purpose means defining what you want your company to accomplish and how you will know when you achieve it. A company plan includes several consistent components that we won’t go into here but you can review in a previous blog post here. For now, it is sufficient to understand that good company planning will include meaningful definitions for the following items: 

    • Core Values
    • Vision/Mission/Purpose
    • Unique Selling Proposition or “3 Uniques”
    • The Target Market or Customer Personae
    • The BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)
    • Three-Year Goals
    • One-Year Goals
    • Current-Quarter Goals
    • Current Primary Company Issues

Like most written descriptions, they get better over time through the process of discussion and revision. This is one primary reason why many business leaders fail to see the value in company planning; they try it a few times but don’t return to the information consistently enough for it to become highly meaningful for everyone involved. They then disregard the Company Planning strategy and discipline thinking it isn’t that helpful when in reality they failed to implement and execute it effectively from the outset.

A second reason many business leaders overlook the importance of Company Planning is that we are not typically very good at it initially. One of my favourite sayings comes to mind when writing this: “anything worth doing well is initially worth doing poorly.” This is often the case with Company Planning. It takes time to get the required sense of when to push a team for clarity and when to let a concept rest for the time being. Additionally, it can take some trial and error to discover which questions to ask to identify true value for a team rather than simply receiving specific facts or statistics.

A final reason why many business leaders fail at company planning is that they lack consistency. Company Plans should be reviewed in detail every 90 days for them to become ingrained enough to begin affecting people’s behaviours and decisions. We use a full-day planning session every quarter with our clients to maintain clarity over the next 90 days and reinforce long-term targets. This repetition of reviewing, discussing and adjusting is what breathes energy and clarity into the company’s overall direction. And consistent performance reviews provide the necessary feedback on whether the company’s efforts are matching the company’s ambitions.

Company Planning should be a business leader’s superpower rather than a blind spot.  We hope this article compels you to see the value in company planning and reflect on whether it was more about the quality of execution than the strategy itself that led to past failures. Like many things in business, the more you do it the better you will become!  

In our next blog post, we will be covering Blind Spot #2: How To Hold Employees Accountable in a Collaborative Way. 

Until next time, enjoy the process!

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Your Company Performance ScoreCard

Using a Company Performance Scorecard

4 of the 5 Required Disciplines for Managing Your Business

Compared to the other critical Management Disciplines we have discussed, monitoring a practical Company Performance Scorecard is a less known, and less implemented concept.

This article focuses on the what, why, and how of creating and using a Company Performance Scorecard to help you to monitor, identify, and resolve company performance issues.

As a quick reminder, there are five core disciplines all business leaders need to ensure are well implemented and maintained to have a strong and adaptable business.

The five disciplines are:

#1 – Practical Company Planning
#2 – Using an Accountability Chart
#3 – Effective Management Meetings
#4 –Using a Company Performance Scorecard
#5 – Strong Financial Control

What is a Company Performance Scorecard?

Your company’s Performance Scorecard is a set of figures that informs the management team – whether a single leader or a team of 10 – how the company is currently performing, as well as forecasting future financial results. The scorecard should capture the most telling Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and financial numbers for the company.  

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so we’ve created a Company Performance Scorecard Infographic for you to review below:

Company Scorecard

Why Should You Use a Company Performance Scorecard?

One key benefit of effectively using a scorecard is that it gives you more time to identify and fix company performance problems before they lead to financial implications. Additionally, it increases your team’s accountability for those performance problems.  

Recently, one of our business coaching clients identified a monthly revenue issue on their scorecard. Their sales were fantastic, but the issue was that COVID lockdowns were preventing them from invoicing for work that was being delayed, which created a problem in revenue recognition. With this information, a company-wide initiative was created to reduce or defer costs until construction projects started back up again and revenues could catch back up. This action helped mitigate a downstream problem of decreasing Company Profitability for the month and quarter. They were able to maintain much of their desired profitability outcome by taking quick action in reducing costs during work delays.

The act of monitoring these key performance numbers not only helps management teams identify and take action earlier, but it also increases the entire company’s awareness of what really matters. We often hear from frustrated business leaders that their people don’t seem to understand how business works. This is an opportunity to educate team members on why these numbers are so important to the company’s health.  

How Can You Create an Effective Company Performance Scorecard?

It is important to understand that every company is its own unique set of KPIs. A good starting place for clarifying your own company’s numbers is to imagine you are cut off from receiving any information on your company except for five figures on a card each week. What would those five figures be?  

In our business coaching practice, we find that the quantity of these weekly numbers typically increases from five to 10 once you begin to consider the breadth of the company and the range of details you require. If a company wants more depth in the scorecard numbers, they may want to include Debtors’ Days in addition to a Current Accounts Receivable number. A Work Safety Incidence number is a good example of some additional breadth companies may want to include in addition to the more standard business performance areas.

If a Company Performance Scorecard is new to you and your company, start simple. Begin with just what is most telling about your company’s performance. As you develop the discipline to report on these numbers accurately, you can add just enough additional numbers to give the scorecard more of a balanced feel. This scorecard maintenance process includes some art, some science, and slight adjustments from time to time.  

Hopefully this information provides you with the details and justification to implement (or revisit) your company’s Performance Scorecard. As always, let us know if we can answer any questions as you try to better execute. 

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Effective Management Meetings

Effective Management Meetings

3 of the 5 Required Disciplines for Managing Your Business

Management Meetings, like many of the fundamental business strategies, are often regarded as not particularly valuable. This article focuses on the strategies required to make Effective Management Meetings the linchpin of your business.

As a quick reminder, there are five core disciplines business leaders should ensure are well implemented and maintained for a strong and adaptable business.

The five disciplines are:

#1 – Practical Company Planning
#2 – Using an Accountability Chart
#3 – Effective Management Meetings

#4 – Monitoring a Simple Company Scorecard
#5 – Strong Financial Control

This article focuses on #3 in the series: The Discipline of Effective Management Meetings. You can find previous articles at betterexecute.com, with subsequent articles published over the coming weeks.

Why Effective Management Meetings Are Required

Although there are many reasons why Effective Management Meetings are necessary, three important reasons are to improve Accountability, Focus and Problem Solving. Here is how:

Accountability:  

Your team needs to develop and maintain a high level of integrity in achieving its objectives. Too often, companies have meetings where they identify important tasks that need to be completed by specific individuals. Yet without consistent accountability, these tasks lack the discipline to achieve a timely and effective outcome. Instilling this mentality regularly will develop a continued culture of strong and appreciated accountability.  

A well-run Management Meeting will identify key tasks or project benchmarks that need to be completed by the following meeting and managed in the interim. This process will identify weak performers as well as validate those who are striving to complete their tasks on schedule.

Focus:  

As the renowned management consultant Peter Drucker states: “What gets measured gets managed”.  Another key part of an effective management meeting is reviewing a Company Scorecard. 

Your Company Scorecard tracks five to seven key performance indicators (KPIs) week on week, as well as some core financial numbers such as sales revenues, to monitor how the company is performing. This keeps everyone aware of the status of the company, identifying concerns early to prevent them from becoming major issues that affect cashflow and financial results. We all have the same amount of time in a week. Focusing on the right issues to work on is the difference between a productive company and one that is just busy.

Problem-Solving:

When considering the value of solving problems before they develop into bigger problems, it is often said that you should, “kill the giant when it is a baby”.  

This sage advice is regularly overlooked without effective weekly Management Meetings. Any good management meeting will have the majority of its duration dedicated to clarifying and resolving key issues. This requires both skill and discipline. Skill is needed in order to correctly tease out the core issues at play, while discipline is required to identify practical strategies that are implemented and managed until the issues are completely resolved. Often management teams will address the symptoms rather than tackling the root cause of an issue. This allows problems to compound over time, impacting morale and productivity.   

What is the Agenda for Effective Management Meetings?

Our favourite agenda for high-quality weekly 60-90-minute management meetings is outlined below. Click here to download our free agenda format to use as a starting point in creating an agenda that meets your company needs:

    1. First Five Minutes – Begin your meeting with authentic examples of what is working in the company. Where are people demonstrating the company’s core values and what’s already working? You have the rest of the meeting to focus on the negatives so spend a couple of minutes identifying some positive items to initiate a positive mindset.
    2. Next Five Minutes – Review the company scorecard. Identify which numbers need to be addressed as issues within the meeting. If you don’t have a scorecard, now is a prime opportunity to discuss and make one.  What key activities and numbers can be tracked at a weekly cadence to monitor your company’s functionality?
    3. Next Five Minutes – Headline information regarding customers or employees. Make visible any noteworthy goings-on internally and externally. This is your opportunity to share information across the company rather than just within departments.
    4. Next Five Minutes – Review the tasks and minutes that were generated from the last meeting.  Ensure there remains a high level of integrity and accountability amongst the team and across all tasks.
    5. Next Five Minutes – Review the status of the key initiatives or ‘Rocks’ for the quarter (see my blog on Goal Setting for more information).  The owner of each initiative states whether their project is on or off track as defined in the previous quarterly meeting. If off track, it is added to the issue list.
    6. Next Five Minutes – Issue Management. Assess the status of issues discussed previously, ensuring that the solution strategies remain tracked through to completion, again for accountability.
    7. Next 25-55 Minutes – Top Issue Identification, Discussion and Resolution.  Once the company performance has been observed and discussed briefly, it is time to focus the best minds of the company on the issues or opportunities that need to be obtained or resolved. The first step is to identify the top issues to be discussed. This will likely only be a subset of the items on your ‘issues list’ which is maintained week upon week in order to keep items consistently visible until resolved. The time taken for problem-solving is both efficient and effective. It is efficient because it provides a specific time and place for management to discuss issues, thereby reducing the need for multiple repetitive conversations. It is effective because it enables the team to analyse to root issue, rather than becoming distracted by the symptoms. There are many great articles and books on getting to the core issue, such as The Five Whys by Majed F. Rajeh. Once the core issue is identified, the team can contribute towards a unified solution. Finally, the best solution strategy is debated, defined and attributed to an owner.  If it is a larger effort it can be managed in the Issue Management section of your next meeting.
    8. Final 5 Minutes – Make sure everyone is clear on any tasks they own and ask everyone to rate the quality and effectiveness of the meeting. You can ask, “Did everyone get what they needed to from today’s meeting?”

Be sure to start and end on time – or earlier when possible.  Use your meeting’s minutes to capture a list of items or topics that were not able to be discussed so they can be reviewed at the next week’s meeting.

Weekly Management Meetings

Why Your Weekly Management Meetings May Lack Effectiveness

Although there can be many reasons why a meeting is not seen as effective, the most common reasons are:

    1. Tasks are not clearly owned by a single person and therefore not followed up on to ensure completion within the allocated timeframe.
    2. There isn’t a company scorecard to identify what and when things are off track.
    3. When issues are discussed there isn’t enough discipline placed on first identifying the core problem, causing conversations to go off on tangents.
    4. A clear agenda is not consistently followed.
    5. There isn’t enough trust amongst the team to speak openly and frankly about issues.
    6. Meeting length, times and dates are not consistent.
    7. There isn’t a clear focus on what to accomplish within a quarterly cycle.

All of these issues are valid reasons for why people may not place a great deal of value on weekly management meetings.  

Conclusion

Effective Weekly Management Meetings are the most important discipline to get right with your team.  You will keep everyone focused and inspired to do great work and identify problems in the company’s performance when the challenges are small and manageable.  We hope this article has inspired you to tighten up your weekly management meeting in places you hadn’t been thinking about improving.  Enjoy the process!

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Your Business Accountability Chart

Managing Your Team Via a Business Accountability Chart

2 of the 5 Required Disciplines for Managing Your Business

Let me introduce you to the second discipline of better business management: using an Accountability Chart. 

In our previous article, The Discipline of Practical Company Planning, we proposed the value of consistent planning, strengthening your team’s ability to ‘execute’ on and achieve identified set goals.  

Today’s article focuses on creating a company and team dynamic to best define and accomplish such goals. A team’s ability to consistently accomplish its desired goals depends on its ability to remain focused, accountable, and aware of how its members are performing.  

A Business Accountability Chart, when made correctly, should be the fundamental tool for ensuring your team members have a clear concept of their individual responsibilities and deliverables, and how their roles and work integrate with the entire team to achieve your company goals. This article assumes you have created an effective Business Accountability Chart for your company. If you are at all unclear on how to do this, contact us with any questions.

The five disciplines are:

#1 – Practical Company Planning
#2 – Using an Accountability Chart
#3 – Effective Management Meetings
#4 – Monitoring a Simple Company Scorecard
#5 – Strong Financial Control

Like all powerful tools, simply having a Business Accountability Chart doesn’t provide any inherent value. It needs to be utilised regularly to generate a positive return on investment. 

The following are the three key activities to maximise the extensive benefits in correctly implementing a Business Accountability Chart.

1. Maintaining the correct structure within the company

Without this deliberate effort, we can often let people in the company slide into doing what they are good at rather than what the company needs. For example, in the case of a recruiting company where I began working, the optimal structure was to have a ‘seat’ for recruiting candidates and another for acquiring companies as clients. The current team members felt they liked doing both candidate and customer acquisition as well as management. Identifying the right seats first allowed the business leader to better clarify the necessary skills and results for each position. They could then talk to their current team members about the requirements for fulfilling each position and thus determine whether they would be a good fit for each of the roles.

Although a Business Accountability Chart shouldn’t change frequently, it is important to review it before determining proposed changes for the company’s direction or desired level of production.

It is important to remember that a person, especially in small companies with only a few employees, can fill multiple seats. The value, then, comes from identifying and monitoring the key deliverables for each of the necessary seats, rather than the staff member. There isn’t any value created just by having one person for each seat; this is just a factor of what the company can afford in terms of staff. Initially, in a company of one, the leader needs to fill each of the seats. As the company grows, those initial seats will be filled by others. As it continues growing, some of the original seats will be divided into more specialised seats with more granular deliverables.

2. Defining & monitoring the correct key deliverables and tasks through your accountability chart

After optimising the right seats for the company, there is the opportunity to clarify the key deliverables and most common tasks for each seat. This is a wonderful chance to cut through the busy work and define what really matters for each part of the company. This activity ends with the team members becoming much clearer and more accountable for delivering what is needed after accepting responsibility for the seat.

Better Execute Accountability Chart
An example of a typical SMB Accountability Chart with the three core areas of business - revenue, operations and finance departments - called out.

Feelings of fear and being overwhelmed can occur when people see the details involved in what is being asked of them. Effectively defining what is required to be successful in any given seat will go a long way toward making team members feel both accountable and confident to deliver!

The final step in this key activity is to identify the key performance number(s) for the seat. This is as much an art as a science, and it often takes a while to settle in on the best number (or numbers). The aim is to identify a small set of performance figures that can be measured weekly to represent whether the seat’s key deliverables are being generated. These weekly numbers can then provide feedback on how people are performing in any given seat.  

If you are not familiar with identifying and monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs),  feel free to contact us with any questions.

3. Using a ‘People Analyser’ tool to monitor your staff members’ abilities to perform as part of the team

Too often, we don’t provide solid periodic reviews for our staff, simply telling ourselves ‘they know how we feel about themselves and their performance levels.’ In reality, they often don’t know and are nearly always looking for more specific guidance on how they can improve or be worth more to the company.

A People Analyser-type tool is perfect for identifying an employee’s strengths and weaknesses. It allows you to weed out the bad apples that may be getting results for the company but who are actually destroying the culture and effectiveness of the team as a whole. A strong team will outperform any individual, and it takes courage to remove a performer for the benefit of the team; doing so is likely the single most important discipline a business leader can maintain.

When measuring or analysing a team member’s performance, first review how well they embody your company’s Core Values. Simply compare them to the list of core values, deciding if they “regularly”, “occasionally”, or “do not” demonstrate each one in turn. Any ‘Do Not’ answers are likely a real problem for your team dynamics and should be taken seriously. The Occasionally items should be talked about in their review. The Regularly items should be acknowledged in thoughtful ways, from a simple commendation to bonuses or rewards.

The second part of the People Analyser process is evaluating the employee’s ability to generate their necessary deliverables. There are three important questions you want to ask to measure the person’s performance:

        • Do they fully understand the seat’s deliverables and dynamics?
        • Do they want to perform and deliver on these activities?
        • Do they have the actual ability to perform the necessary activities to achieve the required outcomes?

These are great questions to consider before working with the employee accordingly. So much of job satisfaction comes down to being able to perform well on what is required of the job. When the person fits the requirements, they are more likely to do well. When they are a poor fit, problems are going to persist, which undermines the entire team.

The effective use of Business Accountability Charts can be a game-changer for companies. We hope this article has provided you with some specific ideas and opportunities to elevate your company’s chart to the next level.

If you would like further advice on implementing your Business Accountability Chart, or wish to discuss any of the Five Required Disciplines of Business Management, please don’t hesitate to contact Better Execute.

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Practical Company Planning

Practical Company Planning & Management Coaching 

1 of the 5 Required Disciplines for Managing Your Business

Company Planning, like many fundamental business strategies, often gets a bad rap. Why? Because it is often done poorly, with even worse follow-through.  This article focuses on a PRACTICAL Company Planning strategy you can easily implement.

If you find it hard to make improvements in your business, you’re not alone.  One common reason for such difficulties is that you often initiate random business strategies that, while they may be valid, do not come in a logical order. It helps to receive information in sequential order, where one concept or strategy should be implemented first, then the next, and so on. This allows you to develop a methodology that can mature with clarity and comprehension, rather than trying to make sense of a scattered array of non-cohesive strategies that do not support one another.

In this article, we provide the five required disciplines all companies need to maintain in order to run effectively. Each week, we will delve into one of these strategies, though all five will remain visible in each article; this will allow you to keep an eye on the macro strategy while we further explore each of them in subsequent articles.

The good news is that, in order to effectively manage a company, there are only five core disciplines. When these are effectively implemented, they support the overall company needs as well as highlighting problem areas until the issues are resolved. 

The five disciplines are:

#1 – Practical Company Planning
#2 – Using an Accountability Chart
#3 – Effective Management Meetings
#4 – Monitoring a Simple Company Scorecard
#5 – Strong Financial Control

We are going to focus on the first – The Discipline of Practical Company Planning – in this article, developing the remaining four in the coming weeks.

What Is Involved in a Practical Company Planning Process?

Most companies do not have a practical and actionable business plan. If one exists, it is often not reviewed frequently nor is it shared regularly with the entire company. Planning is not just a formality for big, successful businesses; it has been repeatedly proven to be a critical discipline for success for small-to-medium businesses (SMBs). As is often the case, when people endure a series of bad experiences related to a topic like Company Planning, they tend to discard the strategy rather than placing blame on the actual problem. In this case, the problem is the quality of execution of the Company Planning strategy – not the strategy itself.

The following are the typical attributes that need to be included in an effective company planning process, and they need to be implemented in the following order:

Step #1 – Ensuring alignment between key stakeholders (owners/directors/managers)

The first step in company planning is to ensure that the owners and top managers are all on the same page. Often, there are verbal understandings’ between owners, directors, and managers that, in actuality, are not clear – especially as time goes by. In our business coaching process, we often discover issues between stakeholders in the form of unclear agreements or differing beliefs of what things mean. A key part of an effective company planning process is that it ensures the people at the top remain fully aligned on where the company is headed and the actions required to get there, before looking to guide the rest of the organisation.

Step #2 – Clarity on company declarations, its short- and long-term goals and a clear plan of action 

By finding compelling answers as to what the company stands for, where it is going, and how it is going to get there, the organisation is better equipped to rally its employees and customers around the plan. There needs to be a clear thread of reason for how the company’s long-term goals and vision relate to this quarter’s (and even week’s) activities. With this Company Planning in place, the team can see the company’s vision, purpose and mission, and that what they do today will have a direct impact on the company’s position in five or 10 years.  

Step #3 – Circulate the simple strategic plan with others consistently

Beyond documenting a thoughtful and straightforward one- or two-page plan, your strategic plan needs to be continuously reiterated and used consistently as a reference when making decisions on the company’s ongoing progress. 

Although we often help companies develop this concise company planning document, we always need to push for the plan’s continued circulation and reinforcement throughout the company.  This process of sharing and referencing the company plan nearly always requires coaching and accountability. It is said that someone needs to hear a statement seven times before the idea sinks in; this is definitely the case for employees understanding their company’s direction.

Implementing the 3-Step Company Planning Process

There is a reason we refer to these activities as ‘Disciplines‘: they require ongoing effort and monitoring. When left unmanaged, things unravel quickly, but when teams begin to become clear on where their company is going and why, great amounts of progress and momentum can be expected. 

How is your company’s planning considered a discipline? An early issue is often having a clear process to follow to obtain the necessary attributes of an initial plan. We find that leaders and their management teams benefit greatly from some outside facilitation on these concepts and desired outcomes. Filling out a questionnaire on a company’s purpose, mission, or vision rarely results in something inspiring and meaningful. Often, a third-party facilitator (i.e: an experienced business coach) can elicit the desired results from team members who know what they want but struggle to articulate it clearly.

In reviewing this strategy and process for planning, if you feel your company is in good shape, I want to be the first to compliment you on your efforts. Getting this right isn’t that easy or commonly achieved. If you feel your company needs some more discipline in the area of clear and practical planning, simply contact us here; we can figure out a plan that works for you. Use our 20-question self-audit to further clarify what you most want to improve with your company.

Next week, we will dig into the second key discipline: Effective Meeting Management. This covers why and how it is critical to get your meetings right. Enjoy the process!

Categories
Blog Management Meeting Strategy and Planning

Why a Management Meeting is Your Company Canary

Although every business is distinctly unique, there is one activity that consistently demonstrates the overall health of an organisation. The quality of the Weekly Management Meeting is the Litmus test of your company’s stability, strength and integrity. This single activity is the metaphorical equivalent of using the health of a canary to judge the safety of a coal mine. It accurately predicts the vitality of the rest of the company, just as the vitality of a canary does for miners

Although you likely have an immediate, more general diagnosis of your canary’s health, here is a quick business coaching self-check that can help you focus upon some specific areas of management weakness.

Self-check on the health of our Weekly Management Meeting canary:

  1. Is there is a consistent weekly meeting that starts on time, ends on time, and that everyone considers to be highly productive? 
  2. Does everyone on the management team share their thoughts and ideas with a high level of trust?
  3. Is there an effective scorecard for measuring how the company is performing in its key areas?
  4. Is cashflow effectively monitored with accurate forecasting as part of the meeting process?
  5. Is the majority of the meeting used for identifying and actually resolving the key challenges of the business?
  6. Is there a longer quarterly meeting used to refocus the team on the key initiatives for the upcoming quarter?

Answering ‘no’ to any of these questions likely suggests weaknesses within your team, your company structure or the business at large. In affect, if you answer ‘no’, you have a sick canary. Left unchecked, these issues can fester and grow beneath the surface, unrecognised or addressed due to your lack of a fully-functioning, healthy Weekly Management Meeting.

Management Meeting

Why is the Weekly Meeting so indicative of a company’s management health?

The meeting brings all the key pieces of the company together and shines a spotlight on each of them every week. When there is a weakness in the company, it will come up through maintaining highly productive weekly meetings.

Through this process, you can turn all those noes into yeses, resurrect your canary and unify as a team to address any concerns that may arise. From this healthy and united position, you are far better able to tackle issues in the earliest stages, extinguishing the sparks before they become fires.

As an initial assessment of your company’s health, complete the free Better Execute 20-Question Self-Audit. If this uncovers issues within your company processes, contact Better Execute to discover how we might assist in returning your business to optimal health.

Learn how to develop healthy, productive Weekly Management Meetings in part 2 of my Canary in the Coal Mine blog, coming soon.

Categories
Blog Management Meeting Strategy and Planning

What is the “Canary” in the Coal Mine of Your Business?

Although every business is distinctly unique, there is one activity that consistently demonstrates the overall health of an organisation. The quality of the Weekly Management Meeting is the Litmus test of your company’s stability, strength and integrity. This single activity is the metaphorical equivalent of using the health of a canary to judge the safety of a coal mine. It accurately predicts the vitality of the rest of the company, just as the vitality of a canary does for miners

Although you likely have an immediate, more general diagnosis of your canary’s health, here is a quick business coaching self-check that can help you focus upon some specific areas of management weakness.

Self-check on the health of our Weekly Meeting canary:

  1. Is there a consistent weekly meeting that starts on time, ends on time, and that everyone considers to be highly productive? 
  2. Does everyone on the management team share their thoughts and ideas with a high level of trust?
  3. Is there an effective scorecard for measuring how the company is performing in its key areas?
  4. Is cashflow effectively monitored with accurate forecasting as part of the meeting process?
  5. Is the majority of the meeting used for identifying and actually resolving the key challenges of the business?
  6. Is there a longer quarterly meeting used to refocus the team on the key initiatives for the upcoming quarter?

Answering ‘no’ to any of these questions likely suggests weaknesses within your team, your company structure or the business at large. In effect, if you answer ‘no’, you have a sick canary. Left unchecked, these issues can fester and grow beneath the surface, unrecognised or addressed due to your lack of a fully-functioning, healthy Weekly Management Meeting

Management Meeting

Why is the Weekly Management Meeting so indicative of a company’s management health?

The meeting brings all the key pieces of the company together and shines a spotlight on each of them every week. When there is a weakness in the company, it will come up through maintaining highly productive weekly meetings.

Through this process, you can turn all those nos into yeses, resurrect your canary and unify as a team to address any concerns that may arise. From this healthy and united position, you are far better able to tackle issues in the earliest stages, extinguishing the sparks before they become fires.

As an initial assessment of your company’s health, complete the free Better Execute 20-Question Self-Audit. If this uncovers issues within your company processes, contact Better Execute to discover how we might assist in returning your business to optimal health.

Learn how to develop healthy, productive Weekly Management Meetings in part 2 of my Canary in the Coal Mine blog.

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