Strategy, Team, Execution, & Results Outline
“Strategy, Team, Execution…and Results”
How High Performing Teams Get Things Done
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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?”
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.
Highly effective principles for planning, meeting, communications, establishing rhythm, the collaboration to achieve more at a fast pace. Based on work by Verne Harnish.
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.
For example, “Suppler of Choice, Employer of Choice, and Customer of Choice.”
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.
Clear company vision, purpose, and values.
Leaders Need Vision & Strategy…
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Trust Each Other
- Engage in Unfiltered Conflict
- Commit to Plans and Actions
- Hold Each Other Accountable
- Focus on Collective Results
- Silos Must Give Way To Cross-Functional Teams
- Leadership and Management
Disagree and Commit. Leader must drag out conflict from the group. Enter the “danger zone.”
There must be candor between all members of the management team.
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.
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.
…than can be done with criticism. Catch people doing things right.
…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.
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.
…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.
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.
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?”
While coaching–you must also provide clear leadership and direction.
….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.
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
- Physical Needs
- The Need for Security
- Social Acceptance
- Personal Growth
People move up to the next level only after meeting those below.
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.
If the only time you recruit is when you need people–you will always end up with sub-standard people.
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.
…Set One INSIDE Them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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:
- 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.
- GOALS: Measurable, Observable, Time Specific
- Rigorous Utilization of KPI’s
- Create A Compelling Scoreboard
- Visual Workplace so Everyone Knows the Score
- Periodic Review of Progress Against Plans
- Hold Each Other Accountable–All of the Time
The 7 Essential Behaviors described by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan in the book of the same name.
- Set Clear Goals and Priorities
- Know Your People and Your Business
- Insist on Realism
- Follow Through
- Reward The Doers
- Expand People’s Capabilities
- Know Yourself
Understand your strengths and amplify them. Understand your weaknesses, and staff them.
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.
Time-proven, but often overlooked when actually it should be put to work step by step–without fail.
- Identify “what is the problem?”
- Identify the possible causes
- List out possible solutions
- Weigh consequences and cost of solutions
- Implement the appropriate mix of solutions
- Follow Up/Inspect
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.
- Focus on The Wildly Important
- Translate Lofty Goals Into Specific Actions
- Focus On Strengths and Accelerate
- 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.
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.