5 Success Factors Required to Execute Your Organization’s Strategies

Harris Research conducted a study for Stephen Covey (of Franklin Covey), to understand how to better lead an organization toward successful strategy execution. Here are some of its findings:

  • Only 30 percent of companies actually reach their goals
  • Only 15 percent of employees can identify their company’s goals and priorities
  • 51 percent of employees don’t understand what they need to do to meet the goals
  • 51 percent work on things that are urgent but not important
  • 81 percent feel no ownership in getting the goals completed

As the future stands before us, can your organization afford to be one of these statistics this year? If you are interested in beating the odds, listed below are five success factors from Covey that are required to execute your strategies:

  1. Clarity
  2. Commitment
  3. Enabling
  4. Synergy
  5. Accountability

Clarity: Clarity is the basis for the other four success factors because the employee needs to understand the company, department, and individual goals. According to Harris/Covey 54 percent of employees will say they “know the goals” but only 19 percent can actually list them (and less than 19 percent can explain them).

The following is an interesting exercise for understanding clarity: When you are in front of your team, ask them to name something with “fur.” You might hear coat, squirrel, dog, rabbit, etc. There will be a very large variety of “interpretations” of what people understand “fur” to mean. Now say “dog” and go around the room again and you will hear such answers as Labrador, Beagle, Great Dane, etc. You can see that even though you were “clearer” about the goal (you went from “fur” to “dog” – there is still a differing of interpretations on the part of the team members.)

Unfortunately, Lominger (the developer of Career Architect Leadership competencies) finds that most executives, managers, and individual employees have a low skill rating on “Managing and Measuring Work.” Since clarity is the foundation for strategy execution, managers and executives need to be skilled in this competency. (*See “Reference” at the end of this article for skills detail.) How do you stack up? How do your peers? How does your boss?

Commitment: Commitment is achieved through engaging people in the organizational goal setting process (at the executive level, there must be true agreement on the vision and direction of the credit union otherwise it will be very difficult to prioritize how people allocate time and money resources they control). The employee needs to know how they align – actually contribute – to the goals of the enterprise. And that can be “clarified” from? departmental goals to individual goals. The alignment needs to be clearly communicated. Then “translating involvement to action” is easy.

Enabling: Once goals and priorities are very clear, it is much easier for employees to achieve them. Monthly dialogs with your employees are critical to success for the kind of support they need to get the “job done.” The employee (not the boss) should be preparing – and leading – these discussions on the status of their work towards achieving their goals. They should also be identifying areas where you (as their boss) can provide ways to remove system, structural, process or procedural barriers. This one-on-one time with each of your employees gives you the opportunity to celebrate success, coach for alignment, and council for behavior or performance issues.

Synergy: A mutually advantageous conjunction where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Synergy happens when clarity creates a clear line of sight for goals, and people work together as a team to achieve the desired outcomes. Unfortunately, the normal scenario is that people work together as a “group” – they probably meet regularly, are mostly friendly, but have their own agendas – and consequently, the people and money resources they control may or may not be aligned. A critical factor for creating synergy is trust. With trust, anything is possible.

Accountability: This is the highest correlation to strategy execution. Reporting results to each other regularly and holding each other accountable for achieving goals are the keys. Both require organization discipline. “You can only expect what you inspect.” In many organizations, discipline is one of the most difficult competencies to inspire because it requires executives and managers to “walk the talk.” It requires constant communication, feedback, adjustments to strategy and goals as necessary, etc. And, importantly, it requires consequences if goals are not achieved.

Putting each of these success factors to work in your organization can significantly overcome the inability for most credit unions to execute their strategy.

The two most important lessons you can achieve when applying the five factors is learning how to conduct goal setting and measurement. Then, you can create a culture of accountability. This will reinforce the synergy, commitment, and an enabling culture that help create the excitement that employees want when they come to work on Monday morning.

Each of the five factors are “simple” – but require the executive team to embrace, teach, and behave in ways that will inspire. This will also the reinforce clarity, commitment, enabling, synergy, and accountability.

Learning and applying the five factors will ensure that your credit union beats the odds in successfully executing its strategies this year.

*Reference:  The Leadership Architect Competency Sort Cards, purchased through Korn Ferry

Skilled is defined as “clearly assigns responsibility for tasks and decisions; sets clear objectives and measures; monitors process, progress, and results; designs feedback loops into work.”

Unskilled is defined as: “doesn’t use goals and objectives to manage self or others; not orderly in assigning and measuring work; isn’t clear about who is responsible for what, may be disorganized, just throw tasks at people, or lack of goals or priorities; may manage time poorly and not get around to managing in an orderly way; doesn’t provide work in progress feedback; doesn’t set up benchmarks and ways for people to measure themselves.

For more information about how to improve strategy execution, please contact Jim Cardwell, jcardwell@cardwellgroup.com or Karla Norwood, knorwood@cardwellgroup.com at Cardwell, or call us today at 800.395.1410.

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