When leaders and their teams are not on the same page

Joe, a talented CEO, came to me with a complaint. “My staff spends too much time on projects that are not high-priority,” he said. The projects were important, he admitted, but not at the top of the list.

Joe was frustrated because he had worked so hard on a strategic plan that was supposed to guide everyone’s work. Now it wasn’t being followed!

When I asked Joe to tell me how he prioritizes projects for his staff, he stopped talking. I could tell that he was having an “awakening moment.” Joe realized that he had not communicated his priorities often enough, or clearly enough, to his team.

Getting your entire staff on the same page requires more than one announcement about your key priorities.

This is where the disconnect happens. Leaders insist that they’ve communicated with their teams. But if the teams are not aligning their work with the organization’s key priorities, the message was not received – because it was unclear, vague, too short, or the team didn’t feel it applied to them.

Getting your entire staff on the same page, aligned with your key priorities, takes more than one announcement. It must be reinforced constantly, with check-ins, reminders, and measurement.

It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. When leaders and teams are on the same page, you’ll see results.

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center For Extraordinary Success

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Are You Boldly Going Nowhere?

When planning a trip, do you map a route, pack supplies, and set a timetable? Or do you just hop in the car and start driving? Both methods can result in a relaxing vacation.

But as a business leader, you can’t simply hop behind your desk and see where your company ends up. To reach your destination of success, you need to develop plans, allocate resources, and follow your purpose. Otherwise, you are boldly going nowhere.

If your organization lacks alignment, your purpose – no matter how noble or lofty – will go unfulfilled.

Achieving your goals requires that your strategy and purpose are aligned. Your people, processes, culture, budgets, and structure must support the end goal. If your organization lacks alignment, your purpose – no matter how noble or lofty – will go unfulfilled.

Which of these best describes your organization?

  • Winner: Our strategy and purpose are aligned.
  • Sincere But Incapable: Our goals are clear on paper, but we don’t have the right people or money to make them happen.
  • Boldly Going Nowhere: We have great people and ample resources, but we don’t have a strong sense of purpose or direction.
  • Least Likely To Succeed: We lack the right people and resources, and our purpose is unclear.

When strategy and purpose are aligned, people working at that organization get excited. Employees are engaged and united behind a common purpose, and they know that their contributions are valued. Doesn’t that sound like an organization you’d like to lead?

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center For Extraordinary Success

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Does Your Strategy Align With Your Purpose?

It’s a new year, and maybe you’ve resolved to become healthier. To support this goal, one strategy would be to buy fruits and vegetables when you shop. But what if you bought only junk food? Obviously, your strategy would not support your purpose, and you would fail to achieve your goal.

The same is true for your organization. If you want to be successful in 2021, you must align your strategy with your purpose.

Purpose is what your organization is trying to achieve. Strategy is how you will achieve it.

Among successful organizations, 64% build their budgets around their strategy.

Your purpose is the unchanging beacon that guides you forward. Everything you do as an organization should point toward this purpose.

Strategy includes the products and services you offer, the market you seek to serve, and defining your competitive advantages over your rivals.

Now ask yourself How well does our strategy support our purpose? Then reflect on your organization’s structure and capabilities and consider how they support your strategy.

For example, if your strategy is to outshine your rivals with stellar customer service, is this reflected in your service standards, process of accountability to standards, training, and resources budgeted for the front-line staff and their supervisors? Or do you operate short-staffed to save money, resulting in overworked and grumpy employees who are unlikely to offer great customer service? Without an effective strategy and resources to achieve the purpose, you will fail.

There is ample proof that strategic alignment pays off. Among successful companies, 77% report that their operating mechanisms support their strategy, and 64% build their budgets around their strategy. It’s no surprise 60% of companies that fail to achieve their goals don’t even connect their strategies to their budgets.

Let’s make 2021 the year that we align our resources with our goals.

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center For Extraordinary Success

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Saying NO is the best gift you can give your organization

What made the cut for your 2021 Strategic Plan? More importantly, what didn’t make the cut?

I often work with organizations that have clear priorities – on paper. But their budgets and staffing do not reflect those priorities. How can you achieve your goals if you are not putting resources toward them?

You must decide which initiatives get your organization’s financial and human capital.

Creating a strategy for success is all about trade-offs.  As a leader, you must decide which ideas and initiatives get your organization’s financial and human capital.

For each initiative that you say YES to, there will be many more that get a NO. This allows you to put time, money, and creativity toward achieving your biggest priorities.

Allowing employees to focus on pet projects might make them feel good, but this often doesn’t help your organization compete for and win business. Wouldn’t you rather engage your whole team and work together to achieve your biggest goals? Imagine the entire staff celebrating their accomplishments together one year from now!

For more inspiration, I recommend the book Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud. Read all my book recommendations for leaders here.

Saying NO could be the best gift you can give to your organization and your employees.

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center For Extraordinary Success

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How to create a 2-page plan for success in 2021

Whether 2020 has been a year to forget or business is booming, now is the time to look forward to 2021. Your competitors are not breathing easy and waiting for the holidays to come around. Here’s how you can get started:

  • Gather your core leaders now for a one- or two-day offsite, in-person or virtual.
  • Pull out the two-page Strategic Direction document you created at the end of 2019. How did you do? Are your actual results performing against your budgeted or predicted results?
  • Revisit your organization’s purpose – what are you trying to achieve?
  • What are your organization’s strategies – in other words, how do you achieve your purpose? This includes products, services, markets, and competitive advantages.

Share your organization’s purpose and strategies with every single team member, and explain how you will celebrate success in 2021.

  • Look at the purpose and the strategies you listed. Do the strategies support the purpose? If so, great! If not, reflect on the disconnects and realign where necessary.
  • Compile what you’ve agreed upon as a team into a two-page Strategic Direction document for 2021.
  • Communicate! We believe the best way to communicate this is through an ALL TEAM meeting.  Engage every single team member in reclarifying purpose, key strategies, and your description of what a successful 2021 will look like.  Explain how progress will be shared throughout the year, and how you will celebrate when plans are achieved. Yes, this is the place that culture intersects with leadership!
  • After the meeting, your managers can develop their 2021 plans and targets based on this new Strategic Direction document. (Side note – having a solid Strategic Direction also makes it easier for managers to say NO to certain ideas or initiatives that don’t fit the plan. Read more on saying NO here.)

Do we know what 2021 holds for us? No, but understanding who you are as a business, and what you are trying to achieve makes it easier to decide what you will invest in.

I can help facilitate the creation of your 2021 Strategic Direction document. Contact me for details.

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center for Extraordinary Success

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Are You Among the 10% Who Achieve Your Strategic Priorities? 

So you’ve established your 2020 Strategic Priorities and the new year is off to a great start. But according research shared by David Norton and Robert Kaplan in their book The Balanced Scorecard, 90% of organizations fail to execute their Strategic Priorities successfully.

Are you one of the 10% who can claim success?

If not, let’s review the fundamentals of implementing your Strategic Priorities.

  1. Evaluate. Meet with key staff to determine and clarify the scope of each Strategic Priority including its purpose and desired outcomes.
  2. Vision and Communication. Create a vision of what the company will look like at the end of 2020. Plan a time where you can share the vision, including key priorities, with the entire team. Don’t skip this step – everyone wants to be part of something new and great.
  3. Name a Leader. Identify a leader for each priority as well as team members who will support and contribute to the priority. Make sure the leader knows they are in charge of achieving the priority.
  4. Accountability and Progress. Don’t wait until year-end to learn that the priority is just getting started. The leader must provide periodic updates to the CEO or other leaders. This step is critical to ensuring that your priority remains on track.

If you need guidance to move your organization into the successful 10%, join the Center For Extraordinary Success for quarterly Strategic Priority Workshops where organizational leaders will learn to create effective implementation plans for their Strategic Priorities.

Our March workshop is filled, but you can attend June 8, September 14, or December 7, 2020. Contact me for details, or you can register online.

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center For Extraordinary Success

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It’s 2020 – Put Your Strategic Plan Into Action

You and your team put a lot of effort into developing your company’s 2020 Strategic Plan. Now that 2020 is here, have you taken these steps to put that plan into action?

  • Have you held an all-team meeting to declare your company’s mission and vision?
  • Have you shared your 2020 key priorities company-wide?
  • Does every single team member understand how he or she contributes to 2020 and its success?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you are not alone. Each year, the Center For Extraordinary Success receives hundreds of calls from business leaders who are frustrated with the lack of employee buy-in and poor results from their hard-thought strategic priorities.

To help business leaders like you, CFES is launching a series of Strategic Priority Workshops. During these quarterly 2 ½ hour events, you will obtain proven, actionable tools to achieve higher levels of mission results and employee engagement.

Only 10 organizations are invited to each Strategic Priority Workshop. If you are interested in attending future workshops and learning how to effectively integrate your mission and strategic priorities, connect with me today.

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center For Extraordinary Success

Don’t Launch Your Project Without This Critical Step

Your company’s new product or service is finally ready to go after months of meetings, analysis, detailed projections, and marketing plans. But have you included the most important step of all?

An internal communication plan is essential to your project’s success and is often overlooked by leaders. If your staff doesn’t understand the project and how it will be rolled out, you may not achieve your desired results.

Your staff may not be aware of your project’s mission and vision.

Have you ever asked three different staff members about your project’s goals and gotten three different answers? Without a planned project implementation and careful communication, your staff may not be aware of your project’s mission and vision. That means your customers won’t know, either.

Without effective internal communication, even the most thoughtfully planned, marketed, and priced product or service will miss the mark.

The best leaders plan their internal communication in advance by asking these important questions:

  • WHO needs to know about the new product or service? (Senior leadership or customer-facing staff?)
  • WHEN do they need to know (Hint: make sure it’s before the product or service is rolled out.)
  • HOW will I share the plan? (All-hands meeting, or a staff e-mail?)
  • Offer DETAILS to share with the internal team, including:

Why is this product or service important to our organization? (Make sure it’s NOT just to make more money – money is the result, not the reason.)

What is your vision for the new product or service?

What will be different in your team’s workflow as a result of the new product or service?

Will company processes change as a result of this new product or service?

How and when will you celebrate successes?

How will your team be informed and held accountable to ensure the project’s success?

Contact me before you roll out your next product or service and together we’ll create a successful and effective internal communication plan.

-Sherri Miller
Founder & CEO


Strategic Plans: Turning “No” Into “Yes”

As a child, my parents impressed upon me that “no” is a temporary roadblock to finding “yes.” Now that I’m a business consultant, I assist organizations that struggle to get past the “no” – especially when it comes to strategic planning.

According to Forbes.com, planning is time consuming and challenging, but critically important to obtaining results in your business. Sadly, many plans end up collecting dust because the organization could not get past “no” – such as resistance to change, ignoring shifting market forces, or unwillingness to make the plan a priority.

Are you ready to say “yes” to making your strategic plan a priority and moving past your roadblocks? If so, start by reflecting on these questions:

  • What are the real issues you need to overcome in 2020?
  • What opportunities are on the horizon for your business?
  • Can your team name the top three priorities your company is working to achieve?
  • What are you doing to solicit ideas and input from your employees?
  • Do your goals and priorities support your mission?

The Center For Extraordinary Success can help you create a strategic plan, refresh an existing plan, or help push your current plan past “no.”

Call me at 260.402.1693 or send me an e-mail to get started.

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center For Extraordinary Success