As we look to finish the year strong, today I am talking about report cards.
Kids may not enjoy getting them in school, but as a parent, I find them a valuable tool to monitor progress, compare their results to their peers, get feedback when results are not meeting expectation, and to make changes to our process for homework and studying when there is not an “A.”
Yet once school is over we forget about this useful tool.
Your business has at least one report card – it’s called an income statement [or P&L].
But does every individual in your organization have their own customized report card?
This article from Entrepreneur Magazine explains why every person should have a scorecard/ dashboard/ report card.
Why Every Employee Needs an Individual Scorecard [by Riaz Khadem, published in Entrepreneur Magazine]
Here is an excerpt:
Why is a scorecard for every person in your organization so important? Because the scorecard connects individuals to your company’s vision and strategy, and when all the jobholders in a company have a scorecard, the entire company is aligned. With a scorecard defined clearly in measurable terms, and with specific roles identified, people will be focused on the most important activities. Accountability is clear.
But how does this type of business scorecard compare to the individual scorecards we are describing here? There are several important differences. Let’s take a look.
- Alignment with vision. The alignment to the mission or vision is usually not clear in business scorecards. They’re very clear in the individual scorecard.
- Progress of strategic initiatives. Strategic initiatives are tracked outside of business scorecards within the individual scorecard because the five indicators in the individual scorecard are usually a mix of visual indicators and strategy indicators.
- Concept of roles for indicators. The concept of roles for the indicators doesn’t exist in business scorecards. It does in the individual scorecard and is there to encourage cross-functional collaboration.
- Related: How to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Company’s Vision
- Information on the scorecard. Business scorecards include aggregate consolidated numbers; the individual scorecards show numbers from the source, where performance takes place.
- A number of factors. Business scorecards can have a large number of indicators; the individual scorecard focuses on a few.
To find out how to cascade your business scorecard down to the individual, read about the process in my new “Guide to Coach Your Team for Accountability & Performance.”
“The only way to grow a company is to grow the people first.” Verne Harnish, in his book Scaling Up.
As I told you in my last article, People are essential to your company’s growth and success.
But… do you have the Right People doing the Right Things, with clear accountability and metrics?
Sometimes your team that was great last year just can’t keep up with the growth in your business today.
As you grow, you need everyone to step up, learn and do more, and work together on the right things.
You need your team leaders and managers to become awesome trainers, coaches, and cheerleaders for their people and for the company’s goals.
Sometimes the opposite happens— your key people become frustrated with the added responsibilities or avoid them altogether getting stuck in the day-to-day.
Or they start having “communication” or staff issues that just get worse.
When you think about the Right People, there are 3 levels that you need to get right as part of an aligned team for growth.
I am just back from presenting “Scaling Up Your People for Growth” two times last week– one to a startup incubator and once for the Scaling Up Workshop in Niagara on the Lake with established growing companies. (Take a look below for a short summary of the “People” section from the book.)
One of the exercises we used at the workshop was for the owners/ founders to evaluate the “alignment” of their team.
“The leader’s final job is “to keep the main thing the main thing” — to keep the organization on message and everyone heading in the same direction” -Verne Harnish, in his book “Scaling Up,”
Here is a list of questions you can use to evaluate the health and alignment of your team:
- The executive team is “healthy” (no dysfunctional behaviors)
- Everyone is aligned with the #1 thing that needs to be accomplished to move the company forward
- Communication rhythm is established and information moves through the organization accurately and quickly
- Every facet of the organization has a person assigned with accountability for ensuring goals are met
- Ongoing employee input is collected to identify obstacles and opportunities
- Reporting and analysis of Customer Feedback data is as frequent and accurate as financial data
- Core Values and Purpose are “alive” in the organization *
- Employees can accurately articulate the key components of the company’s strategy: Who are our core customers? What is our brand promises? Where does the company sees itself in 5 years? What is the company’s elevator pitch?
- All employees can answer quantitatively whether they had a good day or week [“everyone has a number”]
- The company’s plans and performance are visible to everyone
I am sure you have experienced the challenges when “one hand does not know what the other is doing” — and you know it is not the most effective way to run a team or a business.
–> So take a few minutes to rate your team on the 10 questions above, and see where you need to improve clarity, focus, and alignment for a healthy team and to achieve more success.
The most important step in bringing accountability to your team — be Consistent!
If you don’t “inspect what you expect” … then some things will get done, but many will be forgotten.
One of the most persistent complaints I hear from employees of small business is that “we don’t finish what we start” and that the owners/managers are always adopting the latest book advice or stuck in chasing shiny objects syndrome.
Your team needs your consistent follow-up to help them (and you!) build the habits of professional management.
This means committing to and having your weekly (or monthly) one-on-one meetings, your monthly business reviews and your quarterly business planning sessions.
Lots has been written on the psychology of “change” and building habits– it takes 40 days, 10,000 hours of practice to be an expert, etc.
But it’s not rocket science- make a schedule, stick to it, learn from your progress, refine what works for your team and your business and KEEP WITH.
This continues my 6 part series on coaching for accountability (you can read Step 1 and Step 2 here).
Step 3 is to start using Action Plans:
6 Steps to Coach For Accountability & High Performance [see all 6 steps on my 1 minute video slideshare].
Most employees (and also most managers) are naturally focused on getting their “day job” done. Their cognitive “time span” and time management skills are typically focused on the next day or next week.
This is a major reason that all your good ideas and wish list of projects for improvement never get very far, much less implemented.
The concept of an Individual Action Plan has personally been an incredible organizing and planning tool for my entire life, and changed the direction of our family business.
When I was in high school, our family business started using a business consultant, who taught every one of our 25 employees how to create and use a personal action plan.
My mother had 3 retail stores, two production facilities and a business services division with hundreds of accounts.
When every person had an action plan and they had “quarterly action plan meetings” they were able to focus on the daily work AND make progress on those pesky projects. It also made it easy to see how everyone was contributing and working together on business building activities.
It made the difference between chaos and progress, and transitioned us from overwhelm to a professionally managed profitable business.
There are two inter-related purposes for action plans-– the first is to monitor and prioritize activities that support major projects or programs. The second is to use action plans as a training and development tool. I say inter-related because when people contribute to projects this contributes to their skill and competency development.
Your employees want and need ongoing reminders and assistance with taking action on bigger projects, so that they make progress and focus on small steps every week.
When they have a written action plan, and they review in your weekly coaching conversations, this helps them stay on track. If you don’t review and hold them accountable to make progress, anything beyond daily urgent work gets forgotten.
Quarterly Action Plans Overview:
Ideally you need to do a bit of design and discovery to begin the action plan process.
- First you need to compile a full list of all active company-wide projects and create an action plan for each, with sections or tasks assigned to the responsible person. [More than 4 projects— prune the list down.]
- Second, you should meet with everyone individually to discuss their desired training and development direction [part of your annual performance conversation.]
- Both of these topics become action steps on an individual quarterly action plan.
What goes on an action plan?
- Specific training for the quarter- aligned with personal interest and business need
- Stretch assignments– areas where this person can enrich or enlarge their job duties beyond the current role
- Delegation items to take over responsibility from peer or manager
- Action items or steps from company-wide or department projects assigned to this person
- Cross-training to “back up” or shadow someone
- Research opportunities– what problem can they investigate possible solutions?
- Outside/ formal training programs or workshops, such as industry certification or a job-related degree
Action plans also need to list specific action items, aligned with a broader goal, who is responsible, and a target date for completion.
They are an integral part of aligning every team member’s work with the business goals, and to leverage the rhythm of weekly coaching with progress on business-improvement projects.
As an added bonus, you will be building trust and the engagement of your team by focusing on the key drivers of retention. With the right topics and agenda, the quarterly action plan meetings become “stay interviews”– a technique that employers are finding valuable to hold onto their high performers.
Watch my 21-minute video training on Action Plans for Training & Development
Next step I will share details on Step 4 “Delegate, Don’t Abdicate” [see all 6], and expect to have a new Guide to Coaching for Accountability by the end of this month.
Read my last article on Step 1 to coach for accountability [clarify who does what].
Step 2 is to start Weekly Coaching Conversations:
6 Steps to Coach For Accountability & High Performance [see all 6 steps on my 1 minute video slideshare].
Your employees want and need ongoing direction & feedback & support & recognition, so that they can focus on high priority actions.
Just like a sailboat, if they drift just one degree off course every week they can end up going East instead of North.
You need them to tell you when they are stuck, if they need clarification or resources, and to make more informed decisions.
You also want them to make progress on projects beyond their daily tasks.
All of these employee and manager needs can be met with a 15-minute “weekly coaching conversation”
Weekly Coaching Conversation [Check Ins] Agenda:
- Results on individual/ team KPI [key performance indicators]
- Status update on ongoing tasks [what my manager needs to know]
- Status update on project action items
- Challenges- where are you stuck or need more help?
- Priorities for this week
….I know you are thinking “how am I going to squeeze in weekly chats with every one of my team?”
I will be honest, the first few weeks are hard for managers to schedule, but then they find something miraculous ….
After a few weeks– people start changing how they interact with their managers:
- They hold the “do you have a second” updates and questions for their weekly chat [time saved 5+ minutes per day x per person]
- You don’t have to chase people down to get status updates — you know you will hear them on your weekly chats [time saved 10 minutes x per person]
- They start completing project action items that you assigned but never went anywhere [1+ hours per week of new “to-dos” completed x per person]
- You now have a way to start handing off small action items on the bigger projects to someone else [time saved 1-2 hours week of your time]
- You don’t have to put out fires because someone forgot or were stuck or handled something badly [time saved 1+ hour per week]
When you think about all the time you spend on all these reactive activities, it adds up to well over 15 minutes per person.
Would it be better to have a pre-planned time carved out of your schedule to be proactive, to give direction, feedback, support, recognition, and coach for learning and improved decision making and time management?
If you have more than 10 people, over time you can designate and train a “team leader” to have these weekly conversations with the team and just bring you the weekly team updates [time saved 15 minutes x per person]. As an added benefit, this process develops your high potential employees into team leaders.
As with anything that is “good for you” it takes a bit of effort to change your habits and the habits of your team, and diligence to keep consistency and progress.
Managers who master this habit say they would never go back to their old ways.
In my next article, I will share details on Step 3 “Action Plans for Development and Business Improvement” [see all 6].