Shoot at something
Keep targets clear and simple
Leadership is simple. First, you've got to know exactly what you want for your company, your department, or your project team.
I speak to business owners and ask, "What do you want?"
They respond, "I want to make a profit.”
"As much as I can get."
"What if you can't get very much?"
"That's not enough."
"Then how much do you want?"
"More than I'm getting now."
It becomes obvious they really don't know what they want or have a clear target to shoot for. Examples of clear targets include, “$500,000 net profit per year” or “sales to be $1,000,000 per month.”
“The project team’s goal is to make $50,000 on this job and get at least two referrals from the customer.” Leaders know what they want and communicate specific clear targets and deadlines for their people. Only then can you develop a plan to get what you want. “More” is never a target.
Three steps to get what you want
- Know what you want
- Have a written plan
- Always track and make progress towards what you want
Keep targets clear and simpleAccording to Fortune magazine, a top quality of America's most admired companies is laser-like focus. They have a clear, single business focus of what they're trying to do. For example: Wal-Mart: low prices, Nordstrom: customer service, GE: to be No. 1 or No. 2 in every business they undertake. To me, that's not a path most small- and medium-sized business owners take. They try to do too much and be everything to everyone, instead of staying focused, doing what they do best, and only setting a few simple, attainable goals.
People and companies without clear written targets and goals are used by those who have them. It's very interesting. Those who have written goals achieve them. Those who don't, get the leftovers. I always ask, "Have you got a measurable target? Do you have three clearly defined goals? What do you want to achieve this year?" In my survey of more than 2,000 business owners, only 30 percent had written goals for sales, overhead and profit. It’s no wonder companies struggle.
Do you use scorecards?Can you imagine playing a golf course without greens? Score doesn’t matter. After four hours, you stop and go to the bar and start drinking. There'd be no excitement. There's nothing to shoot for. No targets or scorecard. Sound bad? Sounds like most companies, to me.
What are you really trying to accomplish? To get the results you want, you have to know exactly what you're shooting for and have a scorecard to keep track of progress. When you hit a bad golf shot, you can make the necessary adjustments to get back on course. In business, you have different terrain and obstacles along the way as well. So you need information and feedback to make adjustments as you go, and targets to shoot for and a scorecard to keep track of progress. Get everyone involved by giving them clearly visible targets, written goals and a scorecard.
Use challenges and incentivesAs a construction company owner, it often amazes me when I go to a jobsite and ask the field superintendent, "When are you going to get this part of the project completed?"
He says, "Well, I think we'll get it done in a couple of months."
"How did you come up with that completion date?"
"Well, I talked to the subcontractor’s job foremen, and we sort of agreed we could all get it done by then."
I go on to ask if he thinks he can finish it a week or two early, and he says he probably could. I ask why he doesn’t, and he says there is no real need to. I ask if it’d be better to finish early, and he doesn’t seem to think it’d matter much.
As a leader, start challenging basic assumptions. Give people something to shoot for and a scorecard to track the progress. Offer competitive targets, challenges and encouragements, like $100 for every day finished early.
Everyone wants to be a part of a winning team. Layout a path to victory and watch them hit a hole in one.
About the Author
George Hedley is a best-selling author, professional speaker, and business coach. He helps entrepreneurs and business owners build profitable companies. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a free copy of Everything Contractors Know About Making A Profit! or signup for his e-newsletter. To hire George to speak, attend his Profit-Builder Circle academy or find out how he can help your company grow, call 800-851-8553, or visit www.hardhatpresentations.com.