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Ken Keller: Ten things your business might be missing

Brain food for business owners

Posted: October 30, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 30, 2011 1:55 a.m.

This is the time of year when many organizations plan for the year ahead. There are many reasons as to why a plan might not be well executed. The ten most glaring reasons follow.  

 Missing purpose
At the top, it is easy to believe that all employees are aligned to company goals. Elsewhere in the organization, when the focus is not strategic, the goal is to get to the end of the day.

Vision, mission and values statements are simply forgotten in the crush of daily activities. What works is alignment of purpose on a simple and short phrase called The Main Focus.

Lincoln’s “main focus” was to save the Union; Roosevelt’s first focus was to end the depression and his second was to win World War II; NASA’s was to put a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth.

There is a lot of power in a boiled-down message. What’s your main focus?

No road map
Companies go to great lengths to create plans and keep them a secret. The plan should be broken down by department, each manager sharing their portion so that everyone understands his or her role.
 Everything is priority

The road map should include deadlines which set priorities. A lack of priorities means the plan won’t be achieved.  
No sense of urgency

People at the top have deadlines for getting things done; below that the need to achieve can slow to a trickle.

Most people focus on what is in front of them. It is the role of the manager to communicate clearly what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, and when it needs to be completed. 

No follow-through
Management layers mean less follow up is guaranteed. Many managers assume that subordinates are following through — they aren’t.  

There is nothing wrong and everything right with managers meeting daily to check on the status of priorities. A 15-minute investment will yield a dramatic improvement in getting things done. 

Missing the how-to
When assigned a task that they do not know how to do, people procrastinate. It is necessary for managers to make sure that those responsible for getting something done have the necessary tools, resources and support.  

Weak accountability
Accountability cannot be an annual review; it must be an all the time thing. It’s unfortunate that managers often judge a person based on whether or not they are liked and not whether or not they produce results. This distorts what is really important. Someone is on the payroll to get a job done. If anyone is not doing what they are being paid for, they need to move to a more suitable employer.

Lack of celebration
Most companies don’t appear to enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done, a project completed, a successful program. It is as if a voice is constantly saying “What have you done for me lately?” instead of saying, “Great job, let’s enjoy this for a few minutes!”

There is no reason to party every day. But when something substantial happens, take time to celebrate.

 Missing rewards
“You are lucky to have a job in this economy” is among the most vulgar statements ever to be spoken. Paychecks are earned as exchange of money for time, knowledge, activities and results. If someone isn’t earning their paycheck, deal with it, in private.

Getting a paycheck is not a reward. A reward is a something given in recognition of service, effort, or achievement. Don’t keep rewards a secret. They motivate people to do more, contribute more, be more.

Poor communication
A top complaint of employees is that they do not know what is going on in their own company. Managers in any organization simply cannot over communicate. While some employees will tire of the message, most won’t hear the message until it has been repeated dozens of times. Make the message short and clear and keep repeating it.

 Ken Keller is chief executive officer of STAR Business Consulting Inc., a company that works with companies interested in growing top line revenue. He can be reached at (661) 645-7086 or at Mr. Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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