As a business leader, how much thought do you give to setting business priorities? To craft priorities that propel your business forward, consider (1) the purpose you are trying to achieve—why you are initiating the goal, (2) the resources –financial and human capital—you have available, and (3) the time sequence that needs to be followed.
Priorities should drive growth. Without clearly articulated business priorities that resonate well with your team, there is no way to facilitate such expansion. Here are 4 ways to ensure that your company has a better chance to survive through the economic roller coaster.
Keep the big picture in focus.
I’m certain that each year you set annual goals. That’s what leaders do. Yet, it is essential that you circle back and look at the “big picture” for the organization. In other words, the long-term vision. Do this before focusing on smaller pieces of the whole picture. Before rolling out the business priorities, review the available resources. Do you currently have the financial and human capital needed, or will this priority be better addressed later?
For example, let’s say you lost a major client at the beginning of the fiscal year, and your business is strapped for cash. You know that you need to expand your client base. Before the client left your business, you planned to start a new marketing campaign. However, this business priority now needs to be modified because the financial capital is not currently available. Instead you reconnect with your current and past clients and offer them additional types of services and products that could benefit them. This changed marketing initiative brings in additional revenue and diminishes the cash flow bottleneck. Later, you might revisit the original marketing campaign when it becomes appropriate. Without available resources, no business priority can be reached.
Communicate so priorities resonate.
. Be a meaning maker. As the leader, it is your responsibility to explain why these business priorities need to be met. Leaders often write their business vision, priorities, and goals in lofty terms—filled with vague concepts and ambiguous language. If you want to accomplish your priorities, they must be understood. Speak so that these priorities that matter for your business growth are understandable by everyone. What matters is that you establish a relevance that makes your team want to join you in moving this company forward.
Prioritize to motivate.
Most organizations have a purpose that defines why they exist, aside from making a profit. If you want to motivate yourself, as well as those who work with you, it is important that this purpose is at the core of all your communication—to your team of workers as well as your clients. The message should be energizing and provide you with the inspiration to keep going in good times and lean times. Business priorities linked to the core purpose become tools to help everyone connect their job tasks with the aspiration of the company.
Create the right pace and sequence for success.
Priorities need to be clearly written so that they are coherent and that a sequence for accomplishing them can be easily discerned. As a leader, watch out for these two traps.
The first trap that leaders need to avoid is time optimization. When establishing a sequence of tasks that must be followed, allow enough time for each step. Too many leaders underestimate the amount of time a task will take to complete. I understand that efficiency is valued, but so is quality work. Doing things quickly, only to make mistakes, will cost the business more in the long run. Give yourself enough time to complete the work well.
The second trap to avoid is establishing vague benchmarks. Some leaders and their staff understand the rhetoric behind priorities but quit when the desired result isn’t achieved right away. Too many times the sequence of tasks is over-simplified, and details are omitted. Establish in-process benchmarks to monitor progress and make modifications as needed.
Crafting business priorities that resonate is a vital tool in maintaining the organization’s forward progress. As a leader, keep your eye on the vision as you establish priorities. Understanding why these are important to both the business and your clients will keep everyone motivated. If you include the organization’s big picture purpose, available resources and timing sequence as you decide your business priorities, you will be more likely to reap rewards.
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