Time moves on no matter what we do or do not do. We all know it but we may not all register it in the same way. To some there is never enough time and to others there is nothing but time. Some folks find a way to make great use of time and they get much done. Others cannot seem to estimate how much time a given task should take or cannot finish within an allotted amount of time. Gaining an understanding of time is a critical competency for a business leader. Using time wisely and being able to complete projects within the prescribed time are predicates to accountability and credibility.
At the start of a new year, it feels as if there is unlimited time available to complete goals, priorities and plans. It is therefore easy to make excuses to put things off for a month or quarter. Before long that timeline is looking tighter and tighter. Any leader that makes a pronouncement to the organization about what will be accomplished in the year ahead needs to have a plan setting forth how those accomplishments will occur, with landmarks, deadlines and accountability checks.
Every leader should be looking at 2014 and thinking, “If I have to accomplish one thing in 2014, it is…….” Then a plan has to be drawn up as to how that will happen. Picking a way to finish the above sentence will illustrate the type of thought process required.
If I have to accomplish one thing in 2014, it is to complete a succession plan so I can begin easing into retirement. Having said that, the business leader can create a rough plan to achieve that priority. He can break the year into quarters and set milestones for each quarter. In the 1st quarter, he will do an assessment of the organization to determine strengths and weaknesses and get an accurate picture of what the business would look like without him in it. Once that is done, he should have an understanding of all gaps and deficiencies. He then has a choice to make. He can just catalogue what he has learned, or put together a plan to work on those deficiencies to make them strengths. The second quarter can be used to explore the different types of succession- sale to employees or family, sale to competitor, sale to a company outside of the industry, sale to an individual looking for a good business, etc. Once the most likely options are determined, he can proceed based on them. The 3rd quarter can be used to meet with the professional advisors of the lawyers, accountants, financial advisors – and get their input on how to move forward. Maybe it is time to bring in an investment banker or business broker. The 4th quarter can be used to get the financial statements in order, clean up any hard to explain anomolies and build the narrative of the business’s past, present and future.
What is the one thing you need to do? It could be:
- updated job descriptions for all employees
- establishing a formal employee evaluation process
- opening a branch office
- moving headquarters to a bigger space
- rightsizing the workforce
- re-build trust with employees
- strengthen the brand
- focus on core business by divesting of ancillary businesses
- re-create the corporate culture
- inject innovation into all phases of the business
Whatever it is, big or small, follow through. Hold yourself accountable. Pronounce your goal to the company and then keep everyone apprised of progress. Create the plan, share the plan, own the plan. And make sure you do what you said you were going to do. Don’t get sidetracked with other tasks that become excuses for not completing the “one thing.” You may buy your own excuses, but others will not. If you can’t complete the one thing you need to do, who can trust you to complete anything? 2014 can only be a success if you successfully complete “the one thing you need to do.”