By Phil Harwood, CSP
Have you ever loaded up your vehicle for a long trip and headed down the road without knowing where you were going? Would a football coach ever go up against an opponent without a game plan? Would a gourmet chef begin to whip up a dish without a recipe? Would a military commander go into battle without a plan? Probably not. It makes no sense. And yet in business, it’s all too common for companies to attempt to compete - and win - without clear visions of what they want to achieve.
Being in business is like a long road trip with many twists and turns, red lights, detours and accidents along the way to delay and distract us from our destination. However, the stakes are much higher. Why would we expect to have a successful road trip when we don’t know the destination? We need a road map before hitting the road. Without one, it is impossible to know whether you’re on track, off track or have even reached your destination.
X marks the spot
Examples of destinations may be a revenue goal (hit $2 million in sales in three years), opening a new branch, or achieving a profit objective (net profit in excess of 10% for three years in a row). Examples of longer-term destinations may be to achieve notoriety among peers or to successfully sell and retire by a certain age.
For many employees, this lack of a road map may be very frustrating and eventually lead to their seeking greener pastures. But with a road map, there is a higher degree of clarity about direction, goals and tasks. This clarity brings positive benefits to the organization. Employees are more engaged and motivated, and employee turnover is reduced. Tasks are accomplished, goals are met and overall results are more likely to be realized. Waste is reduced, inefficiencies are rooted out and profitability is enhanced. The list of benefits goes on and on.
Engagement and profit
There is a direct correlation between employee engagement, profitability and having a good road map. Those without a road map have less engaged employees and struggle with all sorts of issues that erode profitability. It’s that simple. However, building a road map is not all that simple, which is why not everyone has one.
To develop your road map, you and your team will need to devote some time and energy to crafting it. In my experience, the best way to approach this is to block out some significant chunks of time with your team, preferably one or two days once a year, to develop the overall road map for the upcoming year.
After the initial road map has been created, it must be implemented immediately or it will be put on the shelf and forgotten. Implementation may take many forms, such as a weekly check-in regarding each strategic initiative; incorporating strategic metrics into your dashboards and scorecards; or holding quarterly strategic review sessions specifically for this purpose.
Take a minute to consider your company. Is there a road map? If so, where is it taking you? Is it in writing? Do your employees know what it is? Has it been fully implemented to the point where everyone is laser-focused on it?
Plot your map
- Include your team. Engaging employees will give them a vested interest in the company’s success.
- Dedicate yourself. A good plan takes an investment in time, energy and follow-up.
- Implement ASAP. Once the plan is set, implement it immediately. Otherwise, the efforts of you and your team will likely go to waste.
Phil Harwood, CSP, is a managing partner of Pro-Motion Consulting Inc. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.