This Client Question Serves as a Reminder How Critical it is for Your Team to Take the Process Seriously.

If you have set up strategy to execution processes in your business then you know how important it is for your team to take the actions as expected towards the results you desire. Once the annual exercise is complete that sets up the year with priority initiatives and Accountable Metric Owners (AMOs) are defined, the real work of executing action plans begins and continues through the year.

The basics of Strategic Goal Deployment™

The Win Enterprises, LLC name for the process is Strategic Goal Deployment™ (SGD). When companies first go through the annual definition portion of SGD, it is often a major shift in thinking. Some companies have really clear strategies and strategic goals while others need help clarifying these, too. Once all the initiatives, metrics, owners, and action plans are defined it’s time to execute!

The execution phase of SGD includes the progress review session where leaders confirm progress is on track or not. If not on track, the AMO is responsible for driving the problem solving and giving the rest of the team comfort that they are on top of the issues.

A recent client question

Recently, I received an email from a client.   We had helped their team implement what we call Strategic Goal Deployment™ a number of years ago and the process helped them stay focused to implement their strategy. Their operational and financial results were so good during the time we were helping them that executives at corporate wanted to know what they were doing different. They had clear annual goals, action plans to execute, and a solid review process to keep them on track.

Over time, team members come and go and the way that processes are performed may tend to vary. This is especially true for new folks who were not around for initial training as they may not appreciate what’s expected or why they are asked to do things a certain way.

This client’s question has to do with the role of leaders within the monthly progress reviews, as he was frustrated that one individual simply wasn’t prepared. In his email, my client was expressing frustration that one person would come into the monthly progress review meeting totally unprepared, having done the bare minimum to get the numbers to report on, but without a deeper understanding of issues and countermeasures. Even worse, the other team members were quietly complaining. He wanted to know my suggestions to help smooth this situation before this person’s lack of ownership would impact the rest of the team and ultimately the company’s results.

What would you do?

Before I answer, consider what you might do. Would you:

  1. Let behavior go as is, without any correction?
  2. Publicly humiliate him for not behaving as expected?
  3. Take this person under your wing and get them help to perform as expected?

As is clear form my client’s email, nothing was happening to correct this behavior and it was impacting the team, so I suggest option A is not the best course of action. Option B is often the path you’ll see in companies, but it may not be the best path for you. This leaves option C to consider, which I believe should be the starting point for your intervention. If that doesn’t have the desired result, then you may have to step up your personal involvement to get the behavior issue resolved.

Here’s My Suggestion

In some company environments, this person would be publically tortured or even executed for their lack of preparation, much like option B, above. Before jumping to that course of action, I suggest the boss set the expectation directly with this person in a one-on-one discussion that he take on a higher level of ownership and eliminate other excuses about not knowing what to do. He can receive a personalized training session and then be assigned a buddy. The buddy can help him to see the actual steps required to be adequately prepared.

The leader needs to define the expectation that the process be followed, not just that results be achieved. To help this individual follow the process, I suggest the boss also arrange a meeting 1-2 weeks before the team’s formal review meeting. During that meeting the leader can check results, that he is following the expected steps, and that he is prepared to talk about the issues during the progress review meeting.

By the way, it’s totally fair game for both the leader and peers to ask probing questions during the progress review session to anyone who isn’t prepared for that meeting. Because this process is the primary way for the company to stay focused and execute their strategy, it simply isn’t acceptable for someone to “opt-out” and not participate.

Testing The Ownership And Buy-In Live During The Progress Review

If this person takes the feedback and expectations seriously, you’ll notice a shift in how they behave during the progress review. You would expect to see results as well as be prepared with data and countermeasures for results that don’t meet expectations.

In the event that they know all the issues, answers, and have tight plans but simply didn’t prepare for the meeting or communicate them, then the leader still has responsibility to train this person to follow process. It’s one of the boss’ important roles to make sure everyone understands and meets process expectations.

Of course, if that person doesn’t know the answers to the challenging questions then there is a deeper problem to address. In fact, following the expected process might actually help them know their issues and manage better.

An Opportunity To Reset And Reinforce

The leader cannot allow the lack of process compliance to continue because it undermines their leadership, erodes team confidence, and hurts results. This situation actually creates an opportunity for the leader to reinforce expectations for the entire group. This way everyone will be clear about their role and level of ownership and the team members who were quietly complaining will know that the boss is watching and that the process matters.

If ultimately you decide to remove that team member, it’s important to remember others will be watching and draw conclusions about what they can or can’t do. Be sure to follow the above recommended steps, that will reinforce the importance of both results AND process. The likelihood though if you follow the above suggestions is that they will fall in line and contribute greatly to achieving your team’s goals.