Resources- Planning (Strategy, Budget, Sales)

Business Planning:

There are several essential planning documents to systematically craft, communicate and implement a roadmap and key results:

  1. One-page strategic plan (5 year)
  2. Annual budget and with annual goals and 3-4 key projects (rocks)
  3. Monthly company dashboard
  4. Sales plan and process

Outside Resources

These links are for resources from several groups that work with high growth organizations.

Documents & Instructions


How to Set An Annual Budget for Your Business, Inc Magazine

How to Setup a Budget for Your Business, SCORE

Five Steps to Create your One-Page Strategic Plan, Entrepreneur Magazine

To your People success,

-Diana Southall, People Coach and creator of the People Plan™


Once you have an organization strategy and plan, you can get everyone on the team working to achieve it.
If you are ready to create your own People Plan, learn more about our Toolkit resources.


Thanks for the $500 :(

Thanks for the $500 :(

More than half of for-profit employers pay out some sort of “year-end bonus” – sometimes it’s called incentive, profit-sharing, distribution, bonus checks.

I heard two examples this month of employees who were actually disappointed/ mad after receiving a fairly generous bonus!

Many well-meaning employers have one of these “plans” but there are two key problems that indicate you should re-design the plan:

1 vytorin 10 40Not linked to performance

For most small employers and a surprising number of large ones, it is also a mystery to employees how they “earned” it and how they can get a bigger one next year. Your employee is thinking something along the lines of “thanks for the $500, what is it for?”

If you are going to spend money – cold hard-earned profits- I suspect you want to get some “bang for your buck.”

If your employees do not understand these three things, it’s time for a re-design:

  • why they received $x in annual incentive,
  • how it ties to either their and/or the company performance, and
  • what they can specifically do next year to make this incentive larger

2. Becomes an “entitlement”

I have yet to meet an employee who will turn this down but often employees are actually MAD or disappointed when they get their bonus check.

Can you believe it!? An owner or manager group could take all the profits for themselves, yet they choose to share some with the staff. Instead of feelings of gratitude and joy, a poorly designed or communicated plan actually has the opposite effect.

And these feelings can linger and fester and actually lower the commitment and enthusiasm of your staff.
Yikes! A client recently used the phrase that sums this up: “we don’t need to spend money to piss people off!”

Typically the reason employees are actually dissatisfied with the bonus amount is because they expected more (for whatever reason) or think their amount is “unfair.”

Perhaps they thought they would get the same as last year (entitlement thinking) but profits were down so the overall pool was less. Or they thought that the promotion to manager would earn a bigger bonus. Or I should earn more than Larry because (fill in reason here.)

If you are hearing grumblings or outright complaints, it’s time for a re-design. Sometimes the plan is effective but it needs to be better communicated to shape employee expectations,  explain the equity in method, and align performance with the payout.

The solution to bonus pains: Our model is to leverage the three  3C’s necessary to have a successful performance-based incentive plan- under employee’s Control, not Complex, clearly Communicated for alignment to company goals.

We have a ten step process to make sure your plan shows what is important to achieve, how each person contributes, and how they can be rewarded.

If you are interested in getting more bang for your incentive buck next year, I’m happy to chat- click here to book a phone session

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Saying Thanks to Your Team this Thanksgiving

Saying Thanks to Your Team this Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving holiday (in America) is this week, and then the busy holiday season is upon us!

I personally love thanksgiving—the food, the time to spend with family, the time to reflect on gratitude and what is meaningful.

Many employers give out a thanksgiving turkey or a holiday ham, and I know many friends who appreciate this gesture. But if you have been doing this  a few years, employees begin to see it as a corporate event and not a personal gesture.

I want to encourage you to also take the time at least once over the next four weeks to personally thank each of your employees.

Here are a few articles from Inc magazine to get you in the “thanking” spirit and some suggestions on how to personalize your notes:

Building a Culture of Employee Appreciation

How to Thank Your Employees in 8 Words

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Allergic to deadlines

Allergic to deadlines

When I speak with business owners and managers, they all seem to long for this illusive state of “accountability.”

Typically they mean a desire to trust that employees are doing the Right Things, and are “kept in the loop” when issues arise or things are not being done. Instead, most report that they have to keep a close eye on everyone’s performance, chase people down for status updates, put out big fires  because they are not told when a tiny spark starts, and spend a whole bunch of time following up (dare I say nagging?) to get projects moving forward.

So I ask you, is your organization allergic to deadlines? (Thanks to a client for this vivid phrase). What happens when someone is given a task? Do they keep track, report back when progress is made, keep everyone updated, agree to a reasonable deadline and then meet it? How often does this happen (just one person or almost everyone)?

After a client monthly update meeting where there was no progress to report on 6 projects (again), the owner looked at me and said “is this because of me?” Sadly, yes, many managers and owners are allowing their employees to be less than accountable. In fact, many build an atmosphere where this behavior is inadvertently rewarded.

What can you do to create an “Accountability Culture?”

Focus on results

My client was having weekly status update meetings (a great start) but people came without “doing their homework” or had loads of excuses … every week. What message does this send to those that actually hit their commitments and to those that do not? People still do what is rewarded—if going above the norm to actually completed an assigned task is ignored then I might decide not to bother next time. Conversely, if I “get away with” reporting no progress every week, this rewards me as I didn’t have to do anything extra.

Get specific- “Soon” is not a deadline

People do what is expected and measured. If a weekly team meeting includes assigning reasonable deadlines and then people report back that they completed the task by the deadline, this builds an organization with results focus. If one out of ten employees reports every week that “I didn’t get to that” what implied feedback does the one shirking Sally get? After about 3 weeks of eyebrow raises and uncomfortable silence, Sally just might be motivated to complete her tasks so she can report back they were done on time.

Set direction and “inspect what you expect”

The first step is to set expectations (results expected and by when) and then, yes, follow up. As a manager, you should have a list of all the projects and other commitments with who is assigned to each task and a deadline for each. This provides a bird’s eye view of everything promised so that you can keep track of who is doing what, and what is due this week/ month. This makes regular, routine follow-up more of a rhythm and less of a foot race.

Be flexible and solve problems

Of course, urgent requests come up and roadblocks are encountered.  Make yourself accessible and helpful to re-prioritize and re-deploy resources so that key commitments can be met as much as possible.

Recognize effort and results

Especially if you are slowing moving towards full team accountability, recognize small efforts to change and celebrate even small results achieved. Remember it takes 10 positive comments to change a behavior and 4 positive comments to maintain a current one. And be careful to not publicly criticize those that miss deadlines and targets—keep the reports factual and without judgment. Just the mere reporting that something wasn’t done can be feedback enough. A good management rule to follow is the 4P’s- Pound in private, praise in public.

Image courtesy of stockimages at

Holding onto your best team players

Holding onto your best team players

As a small business manager, you might think that large employers have it “easier” to keep great employees. After all, the big guys can pay more, provide more job security and career advancement, and off better benefits.

Actually, I often see that despite the resources at large companies, the direct managers are not using those resources wisely and have the same issues with retaining their best and brightest.

Here is a list of what they might do, and you can too, to build your fabulous team.

What can your small organization offer that will help you keep your talented employees?

  1. Challenging work— many employers hire a new employee, train them, and then leave them doing a job that becomes routine and frankly, boring. Check in with employees regularly to find out what new assignments you can give to keep them challenged.
  2. Less hassles— a primary reason employees look for another job is a lack of resources to do the job and unreliable co-workers. Encourage your team members to identify hassles and road blocks and then work to eliminate as many as possible.
  3. Work and results tied to something meaningful—the term “second paycheck” was coined to indicate that meaningful work is also rewarding. I have a client that makes concrete products and their employees take pride in the fact that they are part of American manufacturing and their products are used to keep roads and bridges safer.
  4. Involvement in company decisions— employees want to be part of something bigger and feel good about their employer and its direction. Get input on major strategic goals and keep communicating about the why and where your organization is going.
  5. Everyone gets development opportunities— if an employee feels that she has a “dead end job” you definitely won’t get above and beyond work. We recommend that everyone has an annual development plan to work on 3-4 key training goals, such as improving a competency, technical skill or contributing to a major project.

As you can see from this list, the direct manager plays an important role in understanding each employee’s talents and needs, communicating how everyone contributes to the organization’s goals, and involving each person finding how they can match up their interests and goals with what the employer needs.

It’s hard to get your team on board and on the same page if you are hiding in your office— so get out there and talk more with your team.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at