Deciding on revenue and profit targets for next year and even subsequent years is usually relatively easy. Like most things in life the harder bit is implementation, especially when success is dependent upon the whole business working together.
In the majority of organisations employees want to do the right thing to help the business succeed. The problem for employees is working out what the right thing is beyond their own and their departments goals and metrics. They need something else to help them make the best decisions to also support the organisations overall business strategies.
Business plan and strategy
To run the business the board or senior team create a business plan and set of strategies to help them achieve their financial and other objectives. This is great for them but the rest of the business either don’t see this plan and/or can’t understand enough about it to use it as a guide in their own decision making. In fact as far as many employees are concerned the plan might as well not exist. If you want proof just ask a random set of employees what the company’s top objectives and strategies are. The employees in the majority of companies are not working together for a common aim anywhere like as well as they need to.
So what do companies do?
One common option is to get the CEO to do a presentation to all staff explaining the key points of the plan and strategies. This can be helpful but often just gives employees the confidence that the management have everything in hand and therefore they don’t need to do anything. (This may come as a big surprise to some senior managers!). Another option is to send a suitably edited copy of the business plan to selected employees. The issue is that the majority of people won’t read more than one or two pages and even edited plans usually to run to many more pages. Of course the problem of individuals selectively communicating parts of the plan can also arise.
Communication needs fixing
It’s no good having the best plan in world if people can’t/don’t act upon it. What’s required is a very simple way of communicating the key information to all staff in a way that they will find helpful and choose to use. The most effective way is to create a map. A map is a very visual, easy to understand tool that will help you and your employees make consistent decisions across the whole organisation.
How to create the map
If solid plans and strategies already exist the key information can be extracted and cross referenced to create a map which will include the top company objectives and strategies along with other important factors for that business. Almost every time that I’ve helped companies do this it’s helped the top team refine and get a more common understanding of their plans and strategies. In all cases the strategies and plans have been presented in a more joined up way.
One way to encourage people to read, use and understand a document is to put it on one page. By also using a colour coded MindMap not many words can be used so they have to be carefully chosen.
When the MindMap is agreed by the senior team every member of the company, no matter what their role, gets their own colour copy. I recommend including temps and contracts too as they also play a part in helping your business be successful. Some of my clients even share it with suppliers and customers. One put it up in their reception area which may not be good for every organisation but worked for them.
Having such as simple tool means that it can be used in lots of different ways. For example I recommend tightly linking the content to functional and individual objectives. It can then be incorporated into performance reviews. Another tip is to use it as the base tool to update and drive priorities at senior management team meetings and communicate updates on progress to all staff. A few companies have even used it as a board agenda.
Over the last 10 years every plan that I’ve helped create has been different. The fundamentals are often similar but the real secret of success is being able to make the approach work for your company rather than attempting to complete a template form.