Listen to Les McKeown read this blog post:
Most organizations start their second fiscal quarter about now.
Which is not a milestone that typically gets much notice – like a second album from the latest indie phenom, it all feels a bit ‘meh’ - It has none of the excitement and newness of launching Q1, and none of the fierce urgency of hauling things over the line in Q4.
It is, nonetheless, an important milestone for one simple reason: most activities you’re engaged in will by now have settled into whatever shape they’ll finally take during the rest of the year (especially if you’ve undertaken our Q1 quarter-end review).
As a result, now is the time to tweak for success. Here’s how:
1. Review ‘success ranges’.
Let’s face it, projections are wrong. As in ‘incorrect’. When we initially put our annual plans together, everything is a best guess, no matter how hard we crunch the data.
Don’t be one of those in-denial leaders who believe that if they ignore the facts and shout loud enough that everyone will somehow twist reality to make their initial budgets come in perfectly as projected - now that you have a full quarter under your belt, take the time to tighten up your forecasts in the light of reality.
Pull out the initial forecasts for your top three to five revenue streams, and review them based on your current knowledge. Be honest with yourself, and revise up or down as the data (plus your best judgment) indicates.
2. Review associated KPIs.
Those numbers aren’t going to come in on their own. Someone has to be motivated to make them happen.
And, just like the projected numbers themselves, the key performance indicators (those actions and behaviors you’re basing individual success, and perhaps compensation on) may also have shifted, so take a look at how you’re measuring success for your key performers, especially when it comes to achieving their delegated goals.
For your sales people, is gross revenue still the best KPI, or should you shift it to gross margin? Is raw lead generation still the key KPI for your marketing team, or should you emphasize growth in your social media footprint more? Is total congregation contribution per weekend still a useful number - or would contribution per family be a better indicator?
Pull out your top 5 key metrics and give them a good stress-test for relevance.
3. Have single-Topic one-on-ones with key personnel.
Here’s a cunning trick: Take your musings from (2) above and go talk to the people concerned before making any final changes.
Doesn’t sound so cunning, you say? More like a flash of the bleeding obvious?
Well, yes, it is – but you’d be surprised at the number of growth leaders who make sweeping changes to both projections and the underlying KPIs without ever talking to the people on the front line tasked with delivering them.
Fact is, your people know more about the likelihood of succeeding with a tweaked plan than you do. If they don’t, or if you’re concerned that if you involve them in a discussion they’ll only try to sandbag you, then you have deeper problems – you need to seriously review your hiring process.
4. Revise associated KPIs.
This one’s simple – take the output of your informed discussion with your key folks in (3) above and produce a revised plan based on those discussions.
You still get to have the final say, but it’s based on what you’ve heard.
The result? Engaged employees who want to deliver the tweaked plan because they have been involved in producing it.
5. Identify derailers.
Take 30-40 minutes to ponder the top two or three possible events that could derail each of your key revenue stream plans for the rest of the year.
6. Build response scenarios.
For each of the potential derailers you’ve identified above, list out in bullet-point form, the top two or three indicators that they might be happening, and the top four or five steps you’ll take to counter them.
Don’t overthink it. As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything.” Which is where we came in, I believe.