What you are used to doing, isn’t what you need to do now

In this busy, fast-paced life where we are scrambling to find enough time to do all of the things we know we should, we often forget to take a step back and re-evaluate. What are our priorities? What are we doing out of habit? Are we spending quality time thinking and not just doing? Is what we are doing really making a difference to anyone, specifically our customers? Can they tell what we have spent our time on and is it relevant to them and adding value? If not, was is it a good use of time? Here are some things that I think we don’t do as effectively as we could:

    • Decision-making: In GrowthDNA we have found that bolder moves are bred by confidence inspired by market data and factual business insights. How are you setting priorities and making decisions?
      1. Do you have too many priorities? If so, what are you doing about it? It won’t change unless you insist. I recommend fewer more meaningful goals.
      2. Do you challenge those in your organization who make recommendations to provide the expected impact or change and why they believe it to be true? Do you expect them to have data and facts or just intuition? 3 out of 4 “good ideas” fail to return value. Were they really good ideas? Are your ideas returning value?
      3. Once the decision is made, do you appropriately support it with an adequate amount of resources and ensure that everyone in the company is aligned behind it? Do you have a process to make that happen?
      4. What meaningful market data are you regularly collecting that improves your company’s ability to focus and act more boldly on behalf of your customers, providing more value on a regular basis.
    • Strategy: While most organizations claim to have it, based on what I see, I believe most don’t. What they have are goals or projects, often organized by function. And that creates stress on resource allocation and alignment. Through GrowthDNA we have realized that strategy—defining the potential of the company regarding who they serve and where they play—answers the question of HOW. How will I accomplish our potential? How will I serve those clients better than others? How will I win in the market?  Do the action steps follow the strategy? Traditional strategic planning often fails organizations for those reasons. It is too focused on the WHATS. It is process driven. And those processes don’t always challenge critical assumptions and status quo. Strategy must not only be mapped out but it must be clear to all who are responsible for contributing to its achievement.
      1. Is your strategy a list of projects or does it define how you will win in the market?
      2. Is your strategy clear enough that everyone in the company defines it in the same way?
      3. A strategy doesn’t change often at all—but how you deliver it might.
      4. If you walked through the hallways and asked everyone to define the strategy, would everyone define the strategy the same way?
    • Leadership: How does your organization define leadership? Are leaders evaluated on operational performance, like meeting budgets, conducting timely performance reviews, or accomplishing specific tasks? Or are they evaluated for how they develop people? The quality and contributions of the talent to change outcomes in a positive way? In GrowthDNA we assert that the #1 job of leadership once strategy is defined (which is actually a rare and infrequent event) is to ensure everyone not only understands it, commits to supporting it, but knows how to contribute to its achievement—and I mean every single employee.
      1. Do you measure leaders on the engagement and contributions of their employees?
      2. Do you teach new leaders how to lead vs. how to “do”?
      3. Do you emphasize open and two way communication so executives can learn from employees, not just the other way around?
      4. What do you and your leadership team spend the most time on? Are you communicating priorities and educating employees in order to engage them or are you involved in putting out fires and “doing” the work of the organization? If you aren’t spending over half of your time raising the bar for others vs. doing the work of the organization, you are sub-optimizing results. Your goal as a leader is to multiple the bandwidth of the organization.
    • Culture: This is a popular topic these days but largely misunderstood. GrowthDNA discovered that cultures must be growth-minded to achieve productive engagement. Our goal should not be to create great places to work; our goal should be to create environments in which people feel they are valued and in return, generate value. Value driven cultures are great but if not tied to outputs they are expensive. How are you engaging everyone in adding value—people on the production line, people in the call center, people who do the most menial work? Do they know how they can contribute?
      1. Do employees routinely go above and beyond job descriptions?
      2. Do employees hold each other accountable for results?
      3. Do employees understand how their work impacts the organization’s results?
      4. Ask yourself: Does every employee know the process for making suggestions (and do you have a process to respond)?

    Take some time to reflect on these important areas of leadership before January 1. Tackle those that can make the most difference for your company. Want to get some more information about these business drivers? Well, you can. Explore what GrowthDNA can mean to your company as it addresses all of these key questions. You can email me directly at Margaret Reynolds or here is a link to the book, Boost Your GrowthDNA.

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