...align people with goals and achieve the promised results”
One of the organizational planning best practices we use with our clients is beginning the process with a look back at what was accomplished in the current year. We look at how many of the goals were accomplished and what percentage of the desired results were achieved. This sets the stage for the leader’s communications narrative of what is being carried over to the following year as well as what needs to be added to continue to grow as an organization. In Chapter 6 of our most recent book, “Finding the Missing Piece: The Impact of Effective Communications on Sustainable Success”, we focus on the communications involved at a tactical level and why it is critical to the effectiveness of an organization’s overall communication strategy.
Drawing on the definition of business alignment as the process of matching the organization’s tactics to the available or readily acquirable resources to achieve its strategic objectives, we will focus on the organization’s tactical communications needed to achieve the strategic objectives. In leveraging tactical communications, leaders focus on defining the goals that align directly to the strategy, the scientific methods used to measure progress and the desired results needed for sustainable success. To that end, tactical communications is unique in its application than the strategic communications which we addressed two months ago and operational support communications which we addressed last month.
- Goals ~ Nothing creates more confusion in the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment that is the post-pandemic new reality than the lack of clarity around goals and expectations! Goal planning is having a written set of actions and commitments leading to goal achievement. In chapter 6 of our, “The Missing Piece” books, we outline the ten steps to our goal planning process to give leaders a means to organize their thoughts and actions around how to achieve both their individual and/or organizational goals. Like any documented process, it also provides the communications narrative leaders use to discuss their intent with each goal as well as specific actions necessary for goal achievement!
- Scientific Methods ~ All effective leaders understand the importance of informational metrics in their ongoing tracking and decision-making process. While intuition, experience, “gut-feeling” and other forms of subjective decision-making inputs may play a role, objective metrics play a crucial and necessary role in the leader’s ability to effectively communicate goal progress. While metrics help inform the story of what is really happening in the business, it is the context around the metrics that informs how the story is told. The format we coach our client leaders to organize their information is The Balanced Scorecard created by Drs. Norton and Kaplan. Consisting of four key areas (Customer, Financial, Business Processes, Learning and Growing), each area is supported by four criteria that help organize the information and enable knowledge-based decision-making!
- Desired Results ~ It stands to reason at any given point in time, the actual results will not align to the desired target. It is in these discussions where some of the most important business decisions are made to course correct the business. It is in these discussions effective leaders understand what is controllable and what is not controllable. This ability helps the leader understand what part of the course correction conversation is based on reasons (uncontrollable) and what parts are based on excuses (controllable). The goal is to begin the discussion around each metric that is lagging with, “We have not met the goal due to <insert reason here> and here are the adjustments we are making.” This approach signifies accountability and is a healthy discussion around what key decisions are needed to course correct. As opposed to, “We couldn’t meet the goal because <insert excuse here> and we can’t move forward until it changes.” This approach focuses on blaming others and shows a lack of accountability to flexing and adapting to the current conditions. One only has to look at the recent pandemic for evidence of leaders in both scenarios!
If we think of the Strategic Thinking Process as communicating the WHY of the business and the Operational Support Elements as communicating WHAT the business needs to succeed, then Tactical Execution is focused on communicating HOW the business will achieve its desired results. It speaks to the execution from the title quote from Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan from their book, “Execution” that helps align strategy to reality!
What will your tactical narrative sound like for your business leading into the new business year? If you’re not sure, we can help.