Are you seeing ahead clearly? Are you future-oriented? Can you see the big picture and the detail of what is important for the next improvement, competitive leap or break-through? Or are you so caught up in the day-to-day activities that you’ve lost sight of the bigger picture?
Part of every manager’s job is to be strategic—the higher in the organization you are, the more critical the requirement. It is an important time (now) to hit the pause button! Here are some important questions to ponder as this calendar year comes to an end, and you focus on what’s strategically important for the coming year.
What are the company’s top three to five initiatives for next year? Your departmental and team objectives need to be closely aligned with the business and fully supportive of those top initiatives. When your team’s efforts are in synch, the entire business benefits. Being at cross-purposes detracts; being without a clear compass promotes disconnect. So make sure your team’s efforts are aligned with the greater business strategic initiatives.
If you and your team have been fraught with lack of clarity, incoherence and inefficiencies, then getting intentionally aligned is key to future effectiveness.
Do the people on your team understand how their efforts contribute to the company’s overall success? Set the top three to five initiatives for your department/group/team early-on, communicating them thoroughly while engaging each person in the process. Keeping these strategic goals visible is important. Talking about them regularly, identifying progress and milestones around them, are ways to integrate the can-do attitude toward successful outcomes. (Remember the story of the stone mason who was not only laying stone, but was essential to the building of the cathedral!)
Being agile translates into being able to move quickly and easily.
We live in uncertain times and things can change. External and internal forces can impact even the best-intended strategic objectives and plans. Teams and businesses that win in today’s fast-moving climate have to be agile…in their day-to-day activities and in their strategic plans and rollouts. To be agile requires adaptability and flexibility. Does that describe your Team? People on your team need to view “agility” as a strength; leader-managers set that winning tone. How agile is your Team? How agile are you as a Manager?
Glean input from your Team to determine three new ways that the Team will help the business to be better in the coming year? (Save $, avoid cost, provide better service, etc.). In addition, describe the specific ways the Team needs to continue to provide value—ways that have been successful in the previous year and worthy of repeating. And lastly, have the team determine what three things they did/were doing in this last year that were NOT value-adding to the business—how will those type activities be phased out? Challenge your team to push the envelope for continuous improvement as they do some team introspection together.
As a Manager do you clearly know the performance levels of the people on your Team? Can you describe where your inefficiencies are?In what ways is your team most effective? Are your best performing people working on the projects that have the potential to provide the greatest value to the organization? Are people matched with tasks critical to the success of the business? Are people who are not high performers being continually developed? Maximizing the productivity of your Team is part of developing strategic agility. Strategic agility, in turn, supports sustainability.
Managers must be effective communicators. Do you know your own strengths and weaknesses as a communicator? How well do you share information? Are you effective with your Team? Peers? Superiors? Make it part of your new year’s goals to improve on the communication areas where you are challenged. Clarity is essential for leaders who want to achieve their key, strategic initiatives.
Here’s to making a clear and positive difference in the coming year!