Work the Plan: Secrets to Successful Business Execution
In business, plans to implement growth or change often fail due to poor execution. In fact, 90% of businesses fail to execute their strategic plans. That’s because it’s one thing to know what needs to be done to improve your business and quite another thing to actually get yourself there. Bridging the gap between knowing what to do and actually getting things done, doesn’t have to be an exercise in frustration, however. Through my years in business, I’ve discovered there are a few important things you need to do in order to successfully execute new initiatives. Try these and let me know how they work for you.
Gain willing co-operation: You will never get anyone in your company on board with making changes for you if you don’t first secure buy-in. If there was company-wide participation in the development of your new strategic plan, then it will be an easier sell than if there wasn’t. I know that not all companies have a tendency to involve employees in the planning process, however. No matter how your new plan came about, it will still need to be sold to your employees if you want to be able to successfully execute it. Start at the managerial level, making sure that everyone understands why the changes are important and what the benefits will be. Consider exactly what your key messages should be and use those phrases consistently. Make sure your managers commit to and understand the importance of interdepartmental co-operation in executing the plan. Have those managers sell the commitment and changes to their teams using those key messages and go right down the organization speaking to the advantages and benefits of the plan all the way. Be sure to maximize all of your internal communications vehicles in speaking about the changes and talk up the advantages. My beBee video about communicating change will give you a few ideas for ways to do that.
Identify a process and establish goals: The next thing you need to do when implementing your plan is figure out the best way to proceed. Identify which actions should come first, second, third, etc. Once you’ve done that, you can further grind down each action item into smaller steps. Each of these steps will become your goals, so be sure to make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Time-based).
Assign responsibility for each task: One of the reasons execution fails is because the wrong people get assigned to tasks. Before you begin to assign activities to execute your plan, think about whose talents meet the required activities. Never heap a ton of work on people just because they are willing to take it on. Willingness doesn’t equal talent or efficiency. Every work place has someone who willingly takes on the burden of doing nearly everything. These workhorses are great to have around, but they are not always the best people for the job and their burden ends up resulting in delays and inefficiencies. Many hands make light work. Assign tasks equally and according to strengths. If you’re not sure what people’s strengths really are, there are many online tests to determine this. They are well worth the investment.
Use a project planner: One of my favourite tools to help me get things done in a timely manner is a project planner. It’s a simple Excel spread sheet with spaces that name activities, who they are assigned to, start time, end time and progress. Using a project planner will help you stay organized and on task. The planner can be sorted according to due date or any other pertinent value. It might look something like this:
Avoid holding aimless meetings: I hate meetings that waste my time and I know for a fact that nearly everyone who has ever worked for someone else has had to sit through tedious meetings that produced nothing meaningful. Make sure all of your meetings have an agenda, a purpose and accountability built into them. Every person assigned a task needs to be entered into the project planner (like the one above) and given a timeline to work with. You also need to use your meetings as an opportunity to make sure everyone understands how each initiative is aligned with the larger strategy and vision. Failing to do so will negatively affect your ability to get things done.
Follow up on progress: Once tasks are assigned, follow up on progress either in a weekly one-on-one or in a group meeting. Nothing changes unless commitment to action and accountability are established. Being diligent in following up will ensure your plan is executed flawlessly and that all goals are met. It will also give you the opportunity to make adjustments and avoid potential disasters.
Establish timelines for each activity and work to a final completion date: This is a critical part of executing your plan. People tend to put off things that don’t seem particularly urgent or important. If you are in charge of getting things done, then it is your responsibility to create a sense of importance and urgency around each activity and the completion of the larger goal.
Never fear failure: Did you know that fear of failure undermines execution? Managers who are afraid to implement changes for fear of failure actually sabotage the growth of a company. Change requires a willingness to take a chance and a willingness to make mistakes. Mistakes happen. No plan is fool proof, but be sure that no fool follows a plan. Mistakes are learning opportunities, and should not be seen as an indication of a person’s ineptitude.
Many companies pay consultants a lot of money to develop plans for them with the hope that they will be given the direction they need to kick things up to the next level. Nothing happens without successful execution, however. Consider the value of following these suggestions and let me know if you need any support in that regard. I work with companies in transition as well as those wanting to achieve exponential growth.
Few public relations & communications specialists have as diverse a background as Renée Cormier. Add published author, employee engagement specialist, sales and marketing strategist, entrepreneur and educator to her list of accomplishments. In her career Renée has held leadership roles in sales and marketing, developed and implemented national marketing strategies and was responsible for teams as large as 28 strong. She brings a wide range of experience and talent to her work.
Renée really shines in marketing communications. She is known for developing and implementing comprehensive communications strategies and generating results through flawless implementation. With such strong business acumen, passion for her work and a natural talent for business strategy, Renée is definitely considered an important resource for her clients.
Contact Renée through her website: www.reneecormier.com
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