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 our kids graduate and move to the professional world of work, 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 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.
When we say “People”– there are three levels that are all important to get right as you build your team of A-Players:
For each of the 3 levels, there are three elements to “get right” as part of an aligned team for growth.
1. LEADERS- define clear accountability for every role
One Page Personal Plan– Each leader should examine the 4 key areas of life/work to ensure their personal goals are being met
Functional Accountability Chart [FACE] – This tool helps you map the key functional areas of your business, to make sure that everyone has a person accountable for results
Process Accountability Chart [PACE]- This tool maps your core processes in your business, again clarifying who is accountable and how the function should be measured for success.
2. MANAGERS- Retain and super-charge A-Players with good managers
Keeping People Engages– Play to their strengths, remove obstacles to performance, align individual work to company goals, recognize and reward them for great performance
Develop people from Day 1 – create a first 90-day onboarding plan, create training plans and show managers how to develop their team and transfer skills
3. TEAM- Hire A-Players at all levels
Clarify Roles: Define the job purpose, outcomes, competencies. I like to call these roles- Responsibilities- Results.
Blend specialists into a complementary team and cross-train as much as possible.
Attract the Right People who fit the job AND your culture/ core values.
Update your selection system with a more systematic process to evaluate Job Fit and Culture Fit, attract A-Players with opportunities to grow and make an impact
I hope this helps you visualize how you can get all three levels of your team- leaders, managers, and staff aligned and rowing in the same direction.
Next step- develop your “human” resources by:
1. Get the Right Managers—to engage with these 5 critical activities:
To retain A-Players, you need great managers.
• Help people play to their strengths, i.e. do what energizes them. • Remove obstacles that hinder performance. • Set clear expectations and help people see how their work links to the company goals/priorities. • Recognize and appreciate people. • Don’t hire many average employees. Hire the best, pay them above-market rates and invest in developing them.
2. Develop people.
Invest at least 2-3% of your payroll on training.
Use onboarding to inculcate your new staff into your company culture, expose them to the organization’s key work areas and connect them with other colleagues.
Leverage modern learning platforms and start weekly coaching conversations to focus, train and develop your people.
I have seen the “best places to work” do all of the above, and those that don’t commit to getting the right managers and developing people [by great managers] continue to struggle with attracting, retaining and motivating their staff.
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.
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.