Goal Exercise

As the economic climate changes and as the business climate becomes uncertain it is imperative that you and your leadership team have a clear understanding of the mutual goals you are working toward. When business is going “good” this understanding is not regularly clarified and it can be very surprising to learn how your key managers interpret and prioritize their goals. Consequently they do not readily line up with the changing goal set necessary to weather a major shift in business climate.

Making quarterly numbers and meeting or exceeding forecast is not necessarily a sign that your managers are in tune with the goals of the company. Some times numbers can be made in spite of ourselves and yet we tend to believe that it is because everyone is operating as you want them to in every situation. However, success (just making numbers) can cover a multitude of sins.

A tight market, rapid arrival of a competitor, loss of a major customer can stress “reliable” business functions. Previously well-performing groups can begin to struggle or go into denial that a change is upon them. When you peel back the layers that distant us from the inner workings of these groups and take a closer look it becomes obvious that what we assumed were groups running on sound business rules and practices were running on auto-pilot driven by the market and not business discipline. Too often this is not discovered until it is discovered how it is impacting the bottom line.

We are less inclined to audit or challenge performing groups. There are always other more important issues that take up our time and why spend time “fixing something that is not broken”. However, you don’t just get up and run a marathon. You train for it. If you are going out for a run you stretch to make sure you don’t pull something. Do we do this to our businesses?

Take the time to “test” or “measure” your management team and business plan. Conduct a disaster drill that exercises practices and strategies that are rarely used to measure how well you are able to respond.

  • What attitudes do you witness during the exercise?
  • Was everyone on the same page?
  • Did they all recognize the “urgency” of the situation and take appropriate measures?
  • What groups already had early warning practices in place that helped them anticipate a change?
  • Who were the leaders and who followed? Is this what you expected?
  • Who recognized what tough decisions needed to be made and developed an implementation plan to make them?
  • Did you discover a consistent understanding of the company goals or do you need to work on refining them, improving communication and execution?

This is a tough business practice to implement on top of everything else that you are asking your management team to do. However, when you regularly exercise under practice situations you will find that you can always respond faster, go farther and last longer when the real thing happens. The boundaries of your goals are sharper and better understood by the key people that are in key positions. Your company will be better prepared and have a good understanding of your strengths and weaknesses to develop a competitive response to unexpected circumstances.

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