The holiday mood is over and it’s time to get to office and plunge into yet another year of hard work and splendid achievements. Sure, you have your personal dreams to achieve but if you are a CEO or top manager, your work ethics will not allow you to put yourself first.
Half way through the year it will be business as usual, god days, bad days, stressful times and very little time to relax and recharge. A day in March looks the same as a day in November and if you don’t keep tight track and record of your activities, sometimes you can’t even tell the difference.
Objectives. The only thing that will keep your business brain on track and deliver a measurable definition of your success. I know, a lot of people talk about objectives and the SMART formula; most businesses go through objective-setting but results are not really taking anyone splendidly ahead. It’s a tough economy, difficult business environment, there is no money, people are docile – we can find a million more excuses.
But what will happen if you do this exercise properly? Pick up your strategic plan for 2016. Call in your key managers and define, together, what should be your key overall business objectives for 2016. Three to five, no more.
Look at each department and define their key objectives that ensure each department supports and fully focuses on delivery to overall business objectives. Again, three to five key objectives.
Now – the tough thing. Do you have the right person running each department, the right driver who will deliver to you? How can you know? I’m sure all your managers are great people but I’m also sure some of them don’t quite deliver.
I use Predictive Index to define the behavioral profiles of the key people who lead teams that deliver on business plans and business objectives. The beauty is that I am able to define each behavioral profile through a simple and automated process. Business objectives can change everyone’s job objectives – this means job requirements can change so much that the current person in the job loses comfort, confidence and competence to fulfill the new role. Instead of insisting, it’s better to redeploy and find a more-suitable person for the role then to ruin the incumbent completely. Objective-setting must reduce stress and ambiguity.
Once you define key objectives for each department and ensure each head of department is able to cope with the new objectives with minimum support, you are in for a smoother sailing. Heads of departments work with their team leaders and employees to define individual job objectives, keeping all eyes on the overall objectives for the business.
Sounds simple but it isn’t. It is in our human nature to do these deeply personal administrative exercises in the most superficial and rosy way. We will write things that look beautiful on paper but will not focus on executing them. Daily routine that we are so well used to, soon takes over. Objectives are put aside, together with the job description, and are soon forgotten.
Best trick to remember your objectives: pin them up everywhere you can see them. I have our Vision and Mission pinned up everywhere: even in the toilets, together with our Quality Policy. Any visual presence is better than none so define your own visual spaces where to your objectives will be physically present, in front of your eyes daily.
Do the constant checks. Draw achievement graphs, have them pinned up in your visual field. There is a huge value in these visual reminders because they demand that you see, and think. There is a huge satisfaction in adding successful results to your graphs, as well as a huge source of motivation when having to note down failure. Discovering fails on time is one single management tool that can help you keep the business on track.
I believe you have to review your objectives every two weeks, and everyone else’s under your direct management, at least once a month. There is a business tool that is dreaded by everyone I have ever worked with in Uganda: weekly and monthly report. I hope you have a better experience with reporting but this is just not something that comes naturally to advertising industry, and the excuses are so many – I could write a book. Yet accurate and regular reporting is the easiest way to keep everyone in the loop and everyone on track.
Never make the reporting a part of any of the objectives; rather make it a condition of the job, like coming to work, or coming to work on time. This is the only way you will receive reports and be able to evaluate success achieved by team members who directly report to you.
If you are a CEO or department manager, don’t forget to give feedback. Most reluctance in reporting that I have continuously faced, stems from employees’ assumption that the report is not being read by anyone. Read it, evaluate it, deliver feedback real fast; this will keep your employees engaged and make them feel valued and close to you. It’s the best way to cross the abyss created by the fear of authority I once wrote about.
Set yourself for success in 2016 with this easy process to follow:
- From Strategic or business plan, define 3-5 key business objectives (follow the SMART formula)
- Set your own objectives completely in line with business objectives
- Set objectives with your direct reports, 3-5, completely in line with your own and overall business objectives
- Evaluate your own results frequently, at least twice a month
- Have visual representation of your objectives and results near you
- Receive reports and give feedback frequently
In business, you are the most difficult asset to manage. Make your management task easier by pledging and fully demonstrating commitment to Management by Objectives and leading by example. Let me know when you see the difference.