Execution Excellence: Where Most Firms Fail.

You may have the greatest ideas in the world, but if they’re not well executed, you’re going nowhere. Great firms execute and great business owners know how to get stuff done!

In my experience, execution excellence can be achieved in five key disciplines:


1. Setting a clear team vision

Setting a clear vision requires the owner/s to do their think work. If you don’t know where you want your business to go, how can you expect your team to have any chance of helping you get there? In the absence of a clear vision from leadership, your team will either:

  • Do their best – in whatever way they think is helpful, which may not always be the case
  • Run their own agenda – which may be subtly (or sometimes not so subtly) at odds with your agenda

You need to spend time agreeing a clear vision for the future, then communicating regularly with your team to ensure everyone is on board with that vision. This doesn’t mean telling your team once. It means regular and frequent communication through formal and informal communication structures including team meetings, one-to-one staff reviews, or simply having a chat over a cup of tea.


2. Quality, regular meetings

Quality and regular are the two key words here. Poorly run meetings ensure people will find reasons not to attend. Meetings where people discuss and debate but never seem to agree on actions for resolutions and meetings that start late, or run over, will eventually be scrapped because they are a waste of everyone’s time.

Here’s 3 useful tips for making your meetings work:

  1. Holding them weekly to ensure regular communication for the leadership team;
  2. Starting and finishing on time;
  3. Focussing on solving issues. By all means discuss issues, but then move to solving them or at least taking the next steps to solve them.

By meeting each week to solve issues, you’ll ensure the business moves forward. Be sure to communicate outward after the leadership team meeting, so the rest of the team are clear on your agenda for that week’s effort.


3. Measure what matters

At the weekly meeting create a list of between 5 and 15 metrics to measure whether the business is ‘on-track’ or ‘off-track.’ Firms often have loads of management information (MI), but it rarely provides any insight that can be used to run the business more effectively. Metrics like assets under management (AUM) and recurring revenue are outcomes of what you do, not a measure of what you are doing each week; therefore they’re not very useful as part of your weekly MI. By all means review them once a month or once a quarter, but don’t rely on them as your weekly source of information. At the weekly meeting, you need to be measuring inputs that will determine your success within a 3 month or 6 month timeframe. Think of these metrics as being like the dashboard in your car. You’ll only take notice if one of them starts flashing red (i.e. indicating you’re not doing what you need to do each week to achieve your vision).

Creating these metrics takes more think work from the leaders of the business.

  • What is it that makes you successful?
  • What activities determine success within a 3 – 6 month timeframe?
  • What are some of the metrics you could be measuring on a weekly basis to ensure you keep your finger on the pulse of your business?

4. Assemble the right team

Having people in the right roles improves execution excellence. The right people in the right roles means people who are able to do it better than you can. If that’s not the case, work ends up bouncing back to you, or even worse, you’re reluctant to delegate because it is easier to do it yourself. Both of these outcomes are a disaster for growth and productivity, not to mention your customer experience and compliance. Ensure you invest time and energy in getting the right team in place. If HR is not part of your skillset, hire an external HR adviser to guide you in the right direction.


5. Create accountability

If you don’t have the right team in place, trying to create accountability will not only be a waste of time, but hugely draining on your time and energy. Implementing accountability won’t make the wrong team work effectively, so you need to get the previous step right (assembling the right team), before you can focus on this one. Once the team is in place, accountability is everything. Everyone in the business needs to know what their key accountabilities are. You’d be amazed at how few firms have ever done this exercise in writing. They avoid it because it can be a difficult job to do the first time. However, not doing it creates a very fuzzy organisational and accountability structure with everyone assuming that everyone else knows what their role is. When you begin defining the key accountabilities for each role (and person) within the business, the differences become clear and can then be resolved.


How is your execution capability?

If you’re not making the progress you would like, or are feeling frustrated with people on your team, working through this list is a good starting point to identify areas for improvement.

By Brett Davidson
Google

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