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December 12, 2017

Leading firms have found that the clarity they achieve with a brief, focused strategic plan can actually do much more than align management. It also makes it possible to drive revenue by making everyone happier.

As you can see from the infographic, most businesses face a real problem when it comes to making the most of the fine people they hired.

When you look at those numbers you have to wonder at the tremendous amount of wasted potential they reveal. It's tragic from a business point of view and from a human point of view, as well. 

Since there are so few ways to bring a strategic plan to life, most companies got into a rut where theirs didn't "strategize" much at all. Rather, it rubber-stamped the status quo, and maybe put a few budget figures to it as well.

Starting a few years ago, leading CEOs and managers tried to address this problem at least at the management level. They cut their the strategic plan down to one page. That made it much easier to understand. And getting it that brief inspired confidence that leadership knew what they were doing.

But it wasn't enough to make those discouraging numbers in the graphic move.

Enlightening Technology

Toady, that's changing. Rapidly. Technology has made new types of business management possible, and leaders who use these tools will be able to engage their people in ways never before possible.

That's because people need to contribute. They want to do well. It makes them happy when they can. Work environments built on those innate desires will be the ones that control the future. The leaders creating them will own their markets. 

This is a structural change in the way businesses are run. It's a global movement. Every time something this big has happened in the past, significant amounts of wealth changed hands. Today, the leaders who take advantage of it will be on the receiving end of that transfer.

Here are the top four ways technology can help make you one of them:

1. Make the Plan Digital and Alive

Leadership teams are smart, there's no doubt about that. We run Quarterly Strategic Reviews with  our clients, and so we know. Everyone brings something worthwhile to the process.

Success comes down to one thing and one thing only: your ability to implement the strategy you create. It's great when your leaders are inspired and engaged. But they have to get the rest of the company to move.

That means your strategy can't be abstract. Even when it's on one page and is easy to understand, for it to have an impact it has to be connected to everyone's job. Literally each person in your organization needs to know how their day-to-day tasks contribute to the entire company's overall success. Ideally, they can prove that they're making a strategic contribution by hitting their goals and moving their metrics.

That's the best use of technology in today's workplace. Use it to connect strategy to the job, and make 2018 the year your company's aspirations become real for every employee.

2. Find the Right Transparency

If you want to let your people make their best contribution, then you have to let them know what's going on. That's how you get people to take ownership.

A lot of executives get anxious around the idea of "transparency." It's not nearly as big a shift as it seems. Since we coach our clients on how to create metrics, we've had this conversation countless times with business leaders all over the world. Once they understand how to create the perfect metric for a team or an employee, they're almost always relieved. They wish they had "revealed" that information sooner.

From the employee's point of view, metrics and goals solidify their understanding of the strategic plan. If they understand how they contribute, and if they get credit for it, your business performs at its best. 

3 Measure Everything Objectively

When most executives think of metrics, they think of salespeople. The reason's simple enough: sales has always had plenty of numbers. All you had to do was count and you'd know who was doing best.  

It can seem that no one else in the company has an objective measure like sales does. That's a dangerous assumption, because if people can't prove, objectively, that they're contributing, they will conclude that the only thing that matters is their manager's opinion. Parts of your company will have that "top-down" feeling which quickly drives away your most talented people. 

It is entirely possible to give clear, strategically aligned metrics and goals to every person in your organization. People love to make an honest measure move. If they can control it and if they know what it means to the organization, they'll apply themselves creatively and happily.

Why? Because people want to say that they did a good day’s work. Sure their manager is happy, but better than that, they know for a fact that they contributed in a real way. That feels much better.

4. Hold Effective Meetings

A person's desire to contribute skyrockets when they can expect to be acknowledged for a job well done. One of the most effective paths to a high-performance culture is to direct meetings that highlight exactly that.

Objective measures help a great deal. That way, managers don't have to worry about hurting someone's feelings or appearing to play favorites. Relationships go a lot smoother, and communications are far more constructive, because the standard for a "job well done" is objectively defined. 

Carefully crafted meeting agendas get this positive feedback loop started and keep it on track. Meetings that are short, rooted in strategy and focused on success drive performance. If you have a way to collaborate on goals and metrics outside of meetings, that keeps the loop in play all the time while empowering managers to prevent problems and duplicate successes.

The Time is Now

Businesses using technology in these ways will lead the next decade. They'll have the most engaged employees, they will get the most value out of every dollar they spend, and they'll keep the best customers.

There’s never been a more important time to do it. Cycles have never moved faster, change has never happened quicker, and employees have never been as fickle. But if you let them, they will become your greatest asset, your ultimate competitive advantage, and your strategic partners.

See RESULTS in Action

Photo by Katy Belcher on Unsplash

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RESULTS' Director of Marketing and a passionate student of all things Inbound, AdWords & LinkedIn.

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