We are coming to the end of 2014, and the 2015 strategic planning season is in full swing. It is the time of year to reflect on how we have progressed towards the 2014 goals and to determine the strategic vision for 2015.  In my experience, there seems to be a disconnect between the goals that are set and the execution of those goals.  There are plenty of business books on management execution, and the jist of them is that there is not a lack of good ideas or a lack of setting goals, but a lack of execution.

If there are plenty of good ideas and goals are set, why don’t we execute? My assessment is that there is no commitment to an accountability structure that will ensure goals are followed through.  Over the years, we have worked with hundreds of companies with the best intentions of being successful, and all have had different levels of success.   Here are some of the characteristics of the more successful companies:

  • They set goals on a continual basis which may be daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually.
  • They monitor their progress towards the goals. What good does it do to set a goal and not monitor it?
  • They communicate with their teams so that everyone is rowing the boat in the same direction. They communicate their progress and get team feedback.
  • If they get off course, they correct to get back on course.
  • The most successful small and middle market CEOs that we have worked with also have some level of accountability outside of their business, either to a board, executive CEO coaching group, investors, or all the above.

Now that the characteristics have been presented, what does the execution look like?

  1. Go through a SWOT analysis on your business and document your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This can be a very positive exercise to complete with your management team.
  2. From your SWOT analysis, develop your goals. Put them in writing, share them across your management team, and push them down to the team member level. The point here is to get all employees on the bus to understand where the company is going and make sure their goals are in line with the firm goals.
  3. Set-up some type of tracking mechanism. It could be a very simple spreadsheet or you can purchase software that will allow you to do this effectively.
  4. Track your progress on a continual basis. You can determine the frequency, but it must be done at least on a quarterly basis.
  5. Communicate your progress with each team member so they know how the company is performing. This does not mean that you must share financials, but everyone on the team deserves to know which direction the boat is going and how much progress is being made (or not).
  6. If you get off course, take action with your team to correct as soon as possible. If something changed dramatically and you will not be able to correct the course, restate the goals and communicate them to the team.
  7. Get accountable to a board, CEO coaching group or someone that you trust who can give you impartial advice and help you succeed.

This is where the rubber meets the road.   Most companies and CEO’s can get through the first two steps, and then the wheels start to come off the bus when they get to the third step.  As a CEO, if you have never tracked the goals or the progress towards the goals, it can be difficult to get through step three.  My advice is to take the step to purchase the software to track and communicate your goals on a continual basis.  Setup correctly, software can effectively help you execute steps three through six.  It helps CEO’s where CEO’s usually aren’t strong.

If you have come this far, you have invested 5-10 minutes in reading this because you want to be more successful in 2015. You can determine what the very next strategic action is that you can take today to make sure you are more successful in 2015 than you were in 2014.  It may be setting a meeting with your team to have an offsite meeting to do a SWOT analysis, or setting up a spreadsheet to track your progress, or having a team meeting to communicate your 2014 progress,  or getting involved with a CEO group.  Whatever it may be, take the next step today!