Strategy, Team, Execution, & Results Outline

“Strategy, Team, Execution…and Results”

How High Performing Teams Get Things Done

 

INTRODUCTION

What follows are the core concepts and principles that have guided and served me in my business career. They represent the classwork, reading, training, consulting, and real-world experience to which I’ve been exposed and have put to work within teams, regions, and companies.

To me, strategy, team, execution, and results are in that order–the four cornerstones of the foundation for a sound business and are described in the brief summary that follows.

 

STRATEGY

It’s assumed that strategies are in place at an organization.  If not–that is the first to begin.  Just as important, communicating the Strategy through the organization to align employees and actions is a critical part of the four steps of Strategy, Team, Execution, and Results.

Everyone in the company, or in the boat-must be rowing in unison and in the same direction.

Vision: Where or What?

Sometimes incorrectly referred to as “soft” or “fluffy” and not worth creating, a company vision or mission statement is what aligns the organization.  Its “true North” on the compass and helps every employee know what to do.

What is Your Hedgehog?

What is that single thing, the number one thing that you and the organization need to do?  Jim Collins describes it as the intersection of 1) What you are deeply passionate about, 2) What can you be the best in the world at, and 3) What drives your economic engine.

1% Vision…99% Alignment

Setting the vision in place is critical.  The value for the organization is that the vision gives a point of alignment around which all employees, departments, and initiatives can operate.

Purpose: Why?

Equally important is to ask what is the purpose of the organization.  Ask these questions:

“Why are we doing what we are doing?”

“What is the reason we are in the business we are in?”

“What is our Passion for the business we’re in?”

“What’s our Higher Reason for being in this specific business?”

Values: What guides us?

Finally, values are the “Should’s” and “Shouldn’ts” that guide your organization’s Decisions, Attitudes, Behaviors and Performance. Should be 5-10 Commandments upon which your Vision for the future is built. It will be the basis for Selection, Performance Review Evaluations, Promotion, and Retention of Key Players going forward. Answer these questions:

How do we conduct our business?

What makes up our unique culture?

When your values are clear, all your decisions are easier.

Rockefeller Habits

Highly effective principles for planning, meeting, communications, establishing rhythm, the collaboration to achieve more at a fast pace. Based on work by Verne Harnish.

One Page Operating Plan

A business plan that will get used is simple and in this case–condensed onto one page, allowing it to be printed, posted, and carried where there is a much better chance of it being used to shape actions.

Operate with a “Theme”

For example, “Suppler of Choice, Employer of Choice, and Customer of Choice.”

  1. Everyone On the Same Page
  2. Meeting Rhythm

Set meeting times allow team members to know there is a meeting scheduled, to accumulate issues to discuss, and “run the business” around this rhythm.

Organizational Clarity

Clear company vision, purpose, and values.

Leaders Need Vision & Strategy…

Constant Messaging to Employees

And just as importantly–they need to do something with it.  Keeping it printed and closed inside of the business plan will never impact the business.  Employees must know the vision, and the top leader must take responsibility for ensuring the vision is shared.

TEAM

It’s not about the product or service.  All organizational success, or failure–begins with people, and in particular–the quality of the teams and teamwork that exits.

Right People On The Bus

Jim Collins, in Good To Great, has made this point a foundation of transitional leadership.  Before any initiative, turn-around, or new venture can begin–a leader or manager must start with the best people.  Collins’ recommendation is to get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.

5 Qualities of a Team

This concept may be the most important of the four components of Strategy, Team, Execution, and Results.  No team can function at its highest level possible unless these five qualities exist.  In Patrick Lencioni’s best selling book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, he shows what happens when these qualities are non-existent–and how to achieve lasting change.

  1. Trust Each Other
  2. Engage in Unfiltered Conflict
  3. Commit to Plans and Actions
  4. Hold Each Other Accountable
  5. Focus on Collective Results
  • Silos Must Give Way To Cross-Functional Teams
  • Leadership and Management
    • Fake Team Worse Than No Team
    • Consensus Can Be a 4-Letter Word

Disagree and Commit.  Leader must drag out conflict from the group. Enter the “danger zone.”

Candor: Vital to Breaking Through

There must be candor between all members of the management team.

Team Building Time

It is a huge advantage to build in a certain level of team building among a group.  It can be informal or formal–but it needs to happen at some level– even if it doesn’t come natural to the leader at the top.

Leadership

Leaders Must “Make The Rounds”

Thematic vs. Hands-On Leadership

A manager can provide thematic leadership while on the command deck, while subordinates man the battle stations.  However, that same manager must never hesitate to roll up his sleeves and do the work himself when needed.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

More Can Be Done Through Praise and Recognition

…than can be done with criticism.  Catch people doing things right.

Leader’s Can’t Motivate Anyone…

…But–he or she can create a motivating environment where people wish to excel, contribute, work as a team, and succeed.  This is done by uncovering what motivates various individuals and teams, making that their reward, providing clear but general direction, providing tools, solving problems, and then getting out of the employee’s way to allow them to get it done their way.

Level 5 Leadership

Jim Collins describes Level 5 Leadership as “building enduring greatness through a blend of personal humility and professional will.”  The ego needs are shifted away from themselves and onto the greater good of the company.  This isn’t to say the ego isn’t present–it is, but the focus is on that of the organization–not themselves.

Three Key Roles of Top Leader

  1. Strategy Keeper and Communicator
  2. Attract and Develop Managers
  3. Cheerleader

Managing People: People Must Feel They Make A Difference

…that they have voices, and that they have choices.  Put a “10” on everyone’s head.  Assume the greatness in everyone will appear as results.

Communicate, Demonstrate, Orchestrate

Managers have these three jobs within their organizations.  1) communicating goals and clear expectations, 2) demonstrating “what good looks like” through leading by example, and 3) orchestrating the work of others to harness the collective and individual strengths of the team to get things done.

Don’t Manage People; Manage Agreements

It’s the lack of reaching obligations that should be managed–not the individual.  “Frank, you agreed that you would have the ABC project completed by this coming Friday and you are no where close.  I have an issue with you not keeping this agreement.  What are you doing about it?”

Be A Resource and Coach

While coaching–you must also provide clear leadership and direction.

Set Clear Expectations

….but don’t prescribe how the work is done.  If objectives were a game of darts, the manager ensures that her employee is equipped with the right tools (the darts), and then sets a very clear picture of the desired outcome, goals, or results desired (the dartboard, and specifically–the bulls eye).  The manager does not tell the employee how hard to grip the dart, how far to lean, etc.  Trust that the employee can figure that out.

Meet Qtrly w/ Extended Mgmnt Team

Assuming the top leadership team meets weekly or monthly, make sure to include the next level managers in a quarterly meeting to drive communications, issues, needs, and results deeper through the organization.

Recruiting, Training, & Motivation

  1. Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy
  • Physical Needs
  • The Need for Security
  • Social Acceptance
  • Self-Esteem
  • Personal Growth

 

People move up to the next level only after meeting those below.

  1. WIFM: Always Keep Other’s In Mind

We all have to be realistic about the fact that everyone considers “what’s in it for me?”  So as a leader or manager–you must keep this at the surface in your decisions and dealing with people.

  1. Always Be Recruiting…

If the only time you recruit is when you need people–you will always end up with sub-standard people.

  1. Employee Incentives for Recruits

This works two ways.  It helps the organization gain new sources for employees.  Secondly, it is a great indicator of how good current employees feel about the company.

  1. Don’t Set A Fire Under People…

…Set One INSIDE Them.

  1. Acknowledge Generational Differences

Before we assume employees want for themselves what those of us who are boomers want four ourselves–think again.  The chances of a Gen-X or Millenial wanting to work for 35 years for a company and retire with a gold watch are over.  This means we have to adjust how we distribute work, what we expect in terms of commitment, and who works well with who.  For each generation below, the key attributes are listed based upon work by Cam Marston and published in Motivating The “What’s in it For Me?” Workforce.

 

Matures:       Born 1920-1950  Age 67-97*

Dedication and sacrifice, conformity, blending, unity, team. “We first.”

 

Boomers:      Born 1950-1965  Age 52-67*

Workaholic & work ethic, competitive, success very visible, optimistic.

 

Gen X:          Born 1965-1980  Age 37-54*

As youths, they were taught to question authority.  Sometimes critical of boomers (“What’s all the noise about?”).  Began the trend of parents and children being “friends.”  View things on shorter time frames.  Carpe diem.

 

Millennials:      Born 1980-1995         Age 22-36*

Optimistic, but busy and stressed. Coddled. Group oriented. Like “Gen X,” they were raised as friends of their parents. Ambitious.

 

*As of 2017

The younger generations are looking to “pay their dues make it to the top.” They’re looking for a place to “hang out” for a while, since they’ll probably have 15-20 jobs in their lifetime.  Lot’s of freedom, benefits, time off, and individualism.

 

Gen Z is the next generation and is entering the workforce.

 

Every Org Chart Has An Expiration Date (Michael Marks)

Moving personnel into other functional roles can provide benefits to the company–in terms of fresh perspectives, and to the employee–in terms of increased responsibility and experience.

EXECUTION

Here is where the rubber meets the road.  So many failures occur because not enough attention was placed on the “what, who, how, and when” of getting things done.  And, subsequently–there’s a lack of mapping of objectives, scheduling, initiating, measuring, follow up, course corrections, and accountability conversations.  Excellent execution is a major component of success, just as a lack of execution is a factor in failure.

If Everything’s Important…Then Nothing’s Important

A team, or an organization–cannot focus on everything.  It has to use its vision, purpose, and values statements to help shape the key objectives (3-5) and focus on those.

Decision-Based Meeting Agendas

Typical Agenda:

  • Sales Update
    • West and Northeast are up 12%; Southeast down (%4)
  • XYZ Initiative Status
  • Safety Issues

Instead, use an agenda that informs the participants in advance what the objectives are around each item and drives dialogue around making decisions regarding solutions on each topic.  Instead, of the above, use this:

Decision-Based Agenda

  • Sales Update: All regions ahead of plan except Southeast.
    • What immediate actions or investments can be made to reverse that region’s sales decline?
  • XYZ Project Status: Project has exceeded all goals.
    • What steps are needed to implement in all other departments?
  • Safety Issues: Two OSHA recordable accidents last month.
    • Identify two dates for “safe operating procedure” training facilitated department heads.

Measurement, Scoreboards, and Accountability

  1. GOALS: Measurable, Observable, Time Specific
  2. Rigorous Utilization of KPI’s
  3. Create A Compelling Scoreboard
  4. Visual Workplace so Everyone Knows the Score
  5. Periodic Review of Progress Against Plans
  6. Hold Each Other Accountable–All of the Time

EXECUTION: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

The 7 Essential Behaviors described by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan in the book of the same name.

  1. Set Clear Goals and Priorities
  2. Know Your People and Your Business
  3. Insist on Realism
  4. Follow Through
  5. Reward The Doers
  6. Expand People’s Capabilities
  7. Know Yourself

Understand your strengths and amplify them.  Understand your weaknesses, and staff them.

Utilization of Execution/Development Plans

This document is the way managers are held accountable for executing against their plans, producing results, and development their departments, markets, and themselves.  It’s created at the beginning of a year and is used throughout between the leader and his team as a benchmark of goal attainment.

Problem Solving Formula

Time-proven, but often overlooked when actually it should be put to work step by step–without fail.

  1. Identify “what is the problem?”
  2. Identify the possible causes
  3. List out possible solutions
  4. Weigh consequences and cost of solutions
  5. Implement the appropriate mix of solutions
  6. Follow Up/Inspect

RESULTS

The best strategy, the best teams, and the greatest execution set the stage for achieving results.  But if teams don’t hold one another accountable for achieving results, if there isn’t a clear “scoreboard” showing progress, and if actions become confused with outcomes– then the results won’t come.

  1. Focus on The Wildly Important
  2. Translate Lofty Goals Into Specific Actions
  3. Focus On Strengths and Accelerate
  4. Velocity in Every Undertaking

Business have to move fast–and teams as well.  When the plan, roles, responsibilities, and goals are finalized–the team must LEAP out of the gate with a velocity that catches competitors off guard, causes employees to take notice and become charged up, and sets forth inertia that is difficult to stop.

Financial Decision-Making

  1. Open Book Management
  2. Share Financials w/ Extended Mgmnt. Team

The deeper the communication of financial metrics to the 2nd or 3rd tier management team, the deeper the understanding of the impacts employees can make to help reach financial objectives.

Entire Team Must Commit to Plans

  1. …As Well as Hold Each Other Accountable for Reaching Results

 

Jeff Wedge
Henry VP of Sales, Residential and Light Commercial
Highly effective, results-driven leader with expertise in coaching, motivating & leading sales organizations in achieving maximum results.