This is the last, but certainly far from the least, main reason that plans fall flat and do not achieve the desired goals. Kicking off a new year and assembling your team to envision the future is an energizing experience. Teams leave planning meetings with a high level of optimism and commitment. As leader, you will want to ride that wave as long as you can.
But with all the time pressure of modern work life, that wave dies all too soon. This is where planning usually fall apart. To keep up momentum, you need to a set managing process before you walk out of the room.
A plan managing process needs four elements: regular reporting meetings, a dashboard, a detailed plan and an owner.
- Meetings: Depending on the speed of the organization you need to have regular meetings to track plan progress. In many cases you can structure fast “stand up” meeting of as little as 15 minutes weekly to report roadblocks and then longer monthly meetings to look at progress and any plan adjustments. The key is to get them in the calendar now.
- Dashboard: A good dashboard takes your goals for the year, establishes the few key metrics to track those goals and then reports back to the team on a regular basis. Numbers don't lie and at the very least tell you directionally if your team’s activity is moving your company in the right direction. Dashboards can be as simple as a spreadsheet or as fancy as a financial dashboard app. The key is that the information can be easily and consistently collected and communicated with the team.
- Detailed plan: Planning meetings usually end with an agreement on strategy and a few key initiatives. Strategy can only become real when you drive to a list of tasks with a clear action, an owner, and a deadline for each. Depending on the skills of each team member, you can ask for a detailed plan or create one and then get buy-in. These task lists act as a powerful accountability driver for team members. They develop the rigor of needing to present results at the monthly meetings, and personal performance tied to yearly objectives.
- Plan owner: You also need a leader who will take charge of making sure the process gets followed. This role is best assigned to someone who is organized and committed to seeing things through.
Managing processes takes time up front, but they contribute an amazing boost to productivity and effectiveness.