Positioning Systems - Small Business Coaching



Articles > Themes #95 7-28-09

How do I get my staff to focus on the right priorities? Is there a formula or tool to get everyone focused and heading in the same direction so the company can achieve its highest priorities?

Getting everyone on the same page in your business and having them connect with their hearts, not just their heads, can raise productivity 40%. [According to Aubrey Daniels “Bringing Out the Best in People, one of the speaker’s at the Fortune Small Business – Gazelles Growth Summit in Dallas October 20-21st]

There are a number of fundamental ways to achieve this including creating your One Page Strategic Plan, building your Core Values and Purpose and establishing the meeting rhythms we suggest. Determining your priorities for the year and then drilling down further to establish them for the quarter is critical to getting everyone focused on the right priorities. However your company’s goals and priorities won’t be successful in driving the organization if they are easily forgotten or ignored. You have to do something to help your employees make the necessary emotional connection that generates commitment. 
Here is where the importance of developing Themes and images help bring your priorities to life. In a small business it may not be critical to build a Theme, however it is critical that you identify your priorities for the year and then capture what you must do in the next 90 days to get your business on track toward your annual goals. 
We view each quarter as a thirteen week race. Every week you spend not focused on the critical rocks that you must break apart or conquer you lose valuable momentum. If several weeks go by without progress the opportunity to achieve your goals for the year, let alone the quarter are lost, possibly forever. Today’s opportunities are too frequently captured by competitors or a changing economy or technology. You must have your people and organization focused on those areas of your business that can provide the most impact to your growth.
Themes can be small or large yet they always consist of three important elements: name, measureable goal and a reward/celebration. Everyone in your company should participate, and you must be sure to display the results. You can find a number of short examples of company Themes at the Gazelles Theme Site.
A word of caution on starting Themes and quarterly goals and priorities for your business.   Look at the culture of your business first as you begin this process. I assure you that if you’ve not done this before you will make more progress in the first 90 days than you may have made in a year previously. However if the culture and people in your business are not used to setting and achieving goals, you may need to temper how aggressive your first quarterly Themes and priorities are. This is simply because people who are not used to setting goals take some time to adjust to what it takes to reach them.
The caution here is not so much to limit your goal setting as much as to begin by setting achievable goals so your team doesn’t get discouraged. 
Last quarter our team set some very high goals. We were disappointed when we didn’t achieve them and get the reward and celebration we had set. At the same time I realized we had made significant progress, and rather than not awarding any reward or celebration I decided to provide 25% of the reward we had planned to recognize everyone’s efforts and results achieved.
Themes provide a visual element and focus that concentrate your team on the most important thing your business needs to be achieving in the next 90 days. You can make the Theme for the year if your business is small, yet we would urge you to break the Theme down into shorter quarterly goals so that your team can sprint toward objectives and be rewarded in shorter intervals to keep momentum rolling. 
Here are the critical steps again to developing your Theme:
1.    Determine the top priority for the company for the quarter or year.
2.    Figure out the critical number[s] to drive this priority.
3.    Develop your Theme name.
4.    Determine length of Theme – quarter or annual.
5.    Determine how you will measure success.
6.    Determine the reward or celebration for achievement.
7.    Display your results and track your progress for everyone to follow.
Goal setting is an important part of any successful business. The use of Themes helps to solidify and concentrate everyone on what’s most important in your organization. If you’d like more help on developing Themes for your business, ask for the Winning Themes Checklist or contact us. 

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