For many this time of year normally brings a time of reflection, strain, self and employee evaluation and future target setting. So i want to explore the pitfalls and provide my experience and thoughts, finally leaving you with my best example I could muster to provide strategic direction to my team that may help you drive the next years results a little better.
I will be honest the appraisals, reviews and performance assessments I have been taken through and fed in to both as an employee and as a manager have always been at extremes. Some have been a informal once a year chat that is so sporadic its hard to pin point the areas to develop with meaningful observation and even harder to provide motivating praise where deserved due to it being lost across time and missing all context. On the other hand I have provided monthly reviews with minutes and outlined targets to review with a defined timescale and agreement from all involved for it all to be overshadowed by individuals monetary gain based on unclearly defined terms that no one spoke of and certainly no one agreed. Both extremes result in demoralised workforces, toxic and uncollaborative teams and a business not providing a clear brand and vision.
Now I am not against autonomy or incentivised schemes in businesses, in fact I think they can be done in a healthy way where all feel valued and the business benefits by allowing the workforce to gain from some of the success, as well as workers being given more ownership furthering growth of the workforce and opening up consideration of future opportunities. I know everyone has there motivations and for many these scenarios (when correctly integrated and managed) can help a business flourish, even for those outside of the seeming givers gain scenario can be motivated to adopt the teams ethics when correctly managed.
Its certainly not easy though but it can be easier with the correct upfront work and vision also seen as policy deployment. This isn't about seniors in a hotel discussing future budgets and forecasts that's far to disconnected to mean anything to anyone FACT!
So what is it? In my opinion the aim of any business is to make money and money is made by providing value to clients and customers. Don't get me confused with Marketing strategy here but You have to determine your brand and that is driven from what your customer truly wants, whether it is lowest costs, highest quality, fastest delivery, latest technology, ethical provisions or all of these you must understand this and build it in to your brand message.
So what can be done?
From your brand message which if you draw a blank on this may need customer surveys and feedback to measure and analyse (see also my google forms post :) ), you need to drive what this means as a business strategy, a code for performing that can be split down at every level and department to meaningful goals and tasks. Ambiguity as already said above leads to confusion and lack of trust, this also manifests in individuals holding back on what they can offer and stagnating the business through lack of development, growth and no feedback loop. Oh yes the work has to go back up the hill for the business to benefit, lets be honest no one ever got it right the first time every time but that's fine, as long as you listen and adjust otherwise you doom everyone to failure and frustration. A problem ignored doesn't stop being a problem and just because its not measured doesn't mean it hasn't cost some where, and believe me the blame game can only go on so long till you are the last one to blame. Sharing in the businesses detail is hard work and nerve racking but good or bad at least a honest view and plan can be discussed and set upon for the whole business to drive
My Swing of the axe
This wont appeal to all and probably contradicts some peoples views but I hope people can allow some room to take on the different perspective, who knows it could change your entire company and have people wishing to work with you.
I generated the attached sheet and list due to the exact ambiguity and lack of direction discussed, the messages weren't being provided from those with the view of the businesses future needs and aims in a timely manner for me to get my team on board and to set targets for us to have a fair chance of working towards a common business goal.
So ........ I looked for what I could use and deployed the operational policy necessary. The company had a brand message and visons accompanying it at a corporate level, I picked what I felt applied broadly to the department and began defining based on internal and external feedback from the year before what action could better us towards achieving the brand strategy. For each of these came challenges which fed direct actions and ongoing measurable activity's that continued to help us refine and review our capability with every stage of improvement and development. This wasn't a plan to just cascade and delegate activity and responsibility for the outcomes there was work to do at every level at first particularly at the top to create a strong foundation and message for the outcomes but also for collaboration up and down the hierarchy and across functions. We didn't measure anything for the sake of it either everything fed our view of where we were compared to where we want to be which in turn fed our actions which helped us reflect and refocus on our measures and review where we were as a continuous cycle.
The team was diverse in many ways but i feel proud in what we achieved and the bond of the team and its focus through my time there, we took business off others that year while reducing costs, lead-times and growing our relationships both internal and external to the business. We became the team of choice for our work and maintained our honesty, openness and dedication to providing the best service and more. Looking back we did so much and gained a lot more from such a little initial activity but I have to remind myself it took work, determination and trust. I wonder if everyone could take it on.
As promised here is the plan that sparked it all for me, I hope it holds some help for you too.
If you would like more information or have any questions feel free to contact me Here.