As business owners we all make plans. We make good ones, excellent ones, the ones that will establish sustainable growth. Yet all too often the plans fail. Why?
One of the biggest reasons plans fail is NOT because the plan was flawed. The biggest reason is because the plan was not executed or not executed properly. This can be the result of several things. The two main reasons are:
- The organization isn’t able or capable of executing it, or
- The business has misjudged what is in the way of it executing the plan.
In other words, there is a gap between what we want to happen and the ability of our business to make it happen. This requires the ability of the business and its leaders to all be on the same page, the execution of the plan must be not only a part of the plan but a part of the business culture. Without both of those, the plan will never achieve what you want.
Execution starts with the business owner, or the person they have chosen to lead their business. Many times either of them takes on a role of watching instead of doing. That isn’t their role. Their role is to do 3 key things. These are:
- Getting the right people
- Setting the right direction
- Leading the operation of the plan.
A significant part of that involves delegation and trust. The leader must not only trust themselves, they must trust those who are on their team. They have to trust themselves to choose the right people, trust those people and delegate the ability and the authority to those people to execute. Owners that over micro-manage or refuse to allow others to actively lead and participate will fail in execution. These leaders are an obstacle to success. The business may well be making money, it is probably even profitable. Yet it is nowhere near achieving the excellence it can unless the leader stops these behaviors and begins to trust those they have hired or need to hire to execute the plan. The skills leaders must achieve are:
Know their employees and their business. They have to live what their business does and be committed to its success.
Practice realism. The business dictionary defines this as; “ Practical or pragmatic orientation that relies on hard facts and considers things as they are and not as they should be or think they are. This means not only knowing the weaknesses but being prepared to acknowledge and address them.
Set clear goals and establish priorities. Limit these to a small number. Too many clouds the objective, too many and the team cannot focus.
Follow up and through. If you aren’t checking and not ensuring that you do what you say you will do, no one else will either.
Reward those who succeed. People expect to be rewarded for doing well. This not only means rewarding those who bring you honest feedback that helps the plan succeed but to recognize that you need the emotional talent to accept that you don’t know everything; your team fills that gap.
Grow the skills and knowledge of your employees. Coach your team, teach them. Give them the knowledge and training necessary to succeed. This includes knowledge about the state of your business.
Know and trust yourself. If you can’t trust your own judgment your team will figure that out and begin to not trust one. Trust lost is hard to regain, sometimes impossible.
Remember, you will get back what you put up with based upon how you conduct yourself. Your very conduct, every day, sets the path for how your business executes the plans and operations you want and need to be done. If you feel the need to do everything and not allow others to pull their share, you will end up with a team that lets you do just that. Not only will you be overworked, your business will fail.
Conducting periodic reviews of progress and outcomes helps you ensure that your strategy is being executed and that your business is moving forward. It is the way you create sustainable growth and profitability in your business. When I was in the Army we called this an After Action Review. We met and assessed everything, what went well, what didn’t and why. We used the 5 whys. A questioning method to find out how something did or did not happen. It is literally asking why until you can no longer answer the why question. This also has the benefit of developing your people, making them and your business stronger.
This is just a small part of the discipline of effectively executing a plan or strategy. Master these key pieces and your business will be well on its way to sustainable growth and success.
Want to know more? Ask me, I’m here to help.