|March 4, 2013
from the desk of Chuck Violand...
Good Monday morning, <<First Name>>—
It doesn’t take much for business owners to lose their focus. When you combine a creative, entrepreneurial personality with a short attention span just about any distraction will capture their attention―resulting in diminished performance in their companies.
In today’s Note I offer a suggestion on how to help not only the owner, but also his people, to hold their focus and achieve superior performance.
Overcoming Stage II Stall™, Part IV
Cause 1 -- Loss of Focus -- Solutions
by Chuck Violand...
The consequences of a company losing its focus may not be noticeable until the organization experiences increased speed, similar to what happens when the front end of a car is out of alignment. At lower speeds it may go unnoticed except for a slight pull in the steering wheel, while at high speeds the affect can be pronounced. The steering wheel starts to vibrate, the car may pull to one side or the other, and in extreme cases the driver may even lose control of the car and risk a potential collision.
When a business is misaligned and there is no clearly defined vision or long term goals its people, especially owners, are tempted to chase the next new thing that captures their fancy: geographic expansion, new service lines, sifting sales goals. The list is endless, but the results of diluted focus, energy and resources are typically the same. Employees become confused when they don’t know what’s expected of them and morale slips as they become frustrated or disengaged. When a blurred focus keeps the target moving, people can’t gain traction and performance is often sub-par. This doesn’t mean people aren’t working hard or don’t care. As in the case of the company mentioned earlier in this Notes series, people are simply pulling in different directions. In extreme cases this can become so frustrating for those who are motivated by growing and winning that they leave the company.
The best place to start when refocusing your company is to clarify where the company’s going; what has to be done to get there; and who’s responsible for doing what to make sure it happens. Then write it down. Simply walking around expounding about your dreams for the future of the business to anyone who will listen will not hold up when a non-producing employee being called on the carpet asks to see a copy of the goal in writing.
Burt Nanus, Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, makes some great points about the value of a company’s vision. He states that a company’s vision, and by extension its Strategic Plan, clarifies the purpose and direction of the company. They inspire enthusiasm, encourage commitment, are articulated and easily understood. They’re ambitious, yet achievable. Perhaps most importantly they “prevent people from being overwhelmed by immediate problems because they help distinguish what is truly important from what is merely interesting.”
Having a written plan (vision) is only the starting point. Following through on the plan is where the real work takes place and where the results are delivered; this is especially true when things don’t go “according to plan”, which they rarely do. This is also why it’s so important to include your key people when drafting your plan. They help the CEO to remain focused and the company moving toward its stated goals.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the company remains focused when the owner/CEO themselves model the appropriate behaviors to keep the company focused on its long term goals.
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