From Cacophony to Clarity | Get Your Team on the Same Page in 3 Actionable Steps

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With 2022 annual reviews now wrapped at most companies, teams are ready to take on the next year. The goals are set and the priorities understood. As a business leader, you’ll find staff looking to you for guidance on where you’re going and how to get there.

So, have you set your workforce up for success?

And does your leadership understand your vision for the year?

As firms navigate staffing challenges, a looming threat of recession, and skills gaps across industries and generations, the same old process just won’t cut it. You’re the conductor of your symphony, and you’ll need an actionable plan to keep the music playing.

Or, if it’s sounding like chaos already, you’ll need to pivot quickly in order to get back on a path to success and move from cacophony to clarity.

Here are 3 key areas to focus your efforts.

1) Document S.M.A.R.T. goals to take pressure off your mind and management.

We know you’ve got some BHAG (big hairy audacious goals), and our IDEOS™ mantra is our guide for continuous improvement wins on several business areas—including with establishing S.M.A.R.T. goals.

The idea behind S.M.A.R.T. goals, commonly attributed to Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives concept, is to make your goals clear and attainable, reducing room for subjectivity that could lead to conflict later. S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. And they’ll allow you to delegate effectively.

Here’s an example of how to transform an unhelpful goal into a S.M.A.R.T. one.

Goal: I will grow my LinkedIn presence.

There’s no one way to define growth here, and there are factors outside your control in this scenario, which could leave you unsure of where to start and how to know if you’re making progress.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal: I will post 3x weekly to LinkedIn on topics related to business growth, marketing, and entrepreneurship with a goal of increasing engagement per post to 1.5% or more by the end of Q3.

You’re focusing on what’s within your control and setting standards now to avoid confusion later.

This clarity is important for everybody, especially your management team, who feel pressured by employees for prioritization of their daily efforts and by executives on progress.

2) Establish standard operating procedure (SOPs) for escalation and include acceptable error margins.

Now that you’ve established S.M.A.R.T. goals, you must consider potential snags. In Tim Ferriss’s best-selling book The 4-Hour Workweek, he described his company’s growth skyrocketing, but he kept getting pulled into low-level customer disputes.

Unable to spend time on the strategic work, he set up escalation scenarios to empower his staff. He gave his employees the power to call the shots if a potential mistake in the ticket cost the company $100 or less.

After a few weeks, he found his employees were making the right calls most of the time, and the amount of time Ferriss freed up in his schedule made up for the few losses tenfold.

Here are some quick steps to get started:

1) Define decision areas.

  • These can include staffing, technical features, finance, and more.

2) Assign project managers per decision area.

  • Draw up a matrix and determine where more than one decision-maker is needed for parallel areas.

3) Define the margin of error.

  • You can tie this to cost, time, customer size, or similar.

4) Check back in at regular intervals.

  • You’ll probably notice any major issues immediately, but even if things seem to be operating smoothly, it’s important to see what the data indicates and reassign duties as needed.

Empower your employees in their decision-making while drawing the lines for where your involvement is necessary. You’ll boost employee confidence and clear your day for your most important work.

3) Create a performance process that goes beyond the performance review.

Conversations about performance and priorities should continue throughout the year. Collect real-time feedback and engage your employees by evolving the performance review into a performance process that focused on those S.M.A.R.T. goals you’ve established.

Through goal check-ins, stay interviews, and talent reviews, you’ll create a regular feedback loop that frequently reminds your team of its priorities and accelerates your growth by allowing you to change course if things aren’t going as planned.

Millennials and Gen Z crave regular feedback, and your company culture will improve when all staff are engaged throughout the year – not just when it’s time for the daunting annual review.

Here’s an overview of performance processes from Quantic to get you started. As always, tailor it to your company needs for maximized results.

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Good luck. And as always, health and sanity to you!

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