Leadership Planning for 2017: Step 1

This is part one of a three-part series dedicated to helping you plan your team’s direction for 2017.

looking-back-going-away-1548018-640x480Part 1: Look Back to See Forward

Here are six essential questions for you and your leadership team to resolve to gain a clear line-of-sight into what occurred this year and where you need to tack your organization for next year:

Where were we a year ago?

A whole year has passed. Lots has changed in the world, in the country, in your industry and with your company. It’s important to assess where you were last year at this time. Review the team you had then and the one you have now. What changed? Was there an impact to the culture? Are some of the same factions that resisted your direction still with you? What is your client roster and how has that changed? Why?

Reminding yourself of where you started the year will help you determine how you got where you are now. So…

Where are we now?

You set goals last year, right? You must now look honestly at how you did. Goals are nothing if they aren’t measured. What success metrics did you determine were mission-critical last year? Did they turn out to be good indicators of your company’s health?  If not, what must you measure this year so that you can get a more accurate picture?

Another critical element here is to find out what others think. Creating a system for gathering feedback from you team is part of that. Where do THEY think the company/department is now compared to a year ago? And your customers need to be heard to. How is your brand regarded? Is it better than it was last year? If not, what happened?

You can’t plan where you want to go without knowing where you are now. It’s like planning a route without a starting point.

Where do we want to go?

Goals. Many companies/teams set them. Far fewer actually reach them. Why? Because they don’t align the goals with where the company as a whole is heading 3-5-10 years from now. Yes, it’s cliched to ask “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” But, it’s also critical. Once you can put that long-range goal out there, you can back up and determine what has to happen THIS year in order to get there.

And then you must ask, “How aligned are my lieutenants with these goals?”  If the answer is “not very,” you’ve got some work to do as the leader. In Part 3 of this series, we will tackle what to do about under-performing team members but for now, determining who is on board…and who is drifting…will establish your team’s baseline from which you can start making changes.

Where was the market a year ago?

Much changes with markets. Last year, what resonated your customer base? What were they buying from you? From others? What wasn’t selling at all? What were the trends this year and how did that impact your bottom line? If your teams have been diligent in their work, they should always be up to speed on this information so, tap them as a resource for this part of your look back.

Where is the market now?

How did the market react this year? Is it where you thought it would be at this time? If not, what happened to send it on another course? You can’t predict all market fluctuations but, having a firm grasp of the historic performance (this year and from previous years), will allow you to determine patterns that can help you anticipate where the market may be going.

Where is the market going?

You are going to set 2017 goals so, you need to put some serious thought into where the market is headed. This will give you perspective as you define what will be mission-critical to you as you set out to achieve those goals. Some things to consider are:

  • Where is customer loyalty now?
  • Is it easier or more difficult to attain this follower-ship?
  • Who are your ideal buyers?
  • Has that changed since last year?
  • How sophisticated have your buyers become?
  • To what degree is procurement involved in the decision making process?
  • How fleet of foot are your business developers to capture this market?

Looking back allows you to see more clearly forward. Answer these questions with as much detail as you can, pulling input from a variety of sources not just your own perspective. Now you’re ready for the next step!

Next: Defining, or Re-defining, Your Mission Statement and Culture

Be Smart: Plan NOW for 2016!

Smart companies look to the future long before it arrives. Now is the time to do that for 2016.

I have the unique pleasure of coaching forward-thinking CEOs and COOs as they lead their respective organizations. They are seizing this time of the year to ultra-focus on 2016. We are discussing how to marshal their teams to be consummately effective and strategic in there business development/selling efforts. Are you having those conversations yet?

At this time of year, it’s important to remember and heed the great selling adage: “Nothing happens in life until someone sells something to someone.” Leaders who know this, act on it with expedience. They realize they need to have their management teams as focused on 2016 as they are, it takes a village.

Planning Questions to Ask for 2016

Planning for the new year starts with asking some key questions. Answer these questions with your leadership teams to gain a clear picture of where they are, and where they need to be in 2016.

  • Where are we now relative to our competitive set?
  • What culture must we forge in 2016?
  • How effect have we been in our internal communication efforts?/What must we strengthen?
  • What must we measure to produce the goals we’ve established?
  • How will we remain a team throughout 2016?
  • What must our constituents embrace with our value propositions?

There is nothing more productive than talking through these important questions and establishing tactical action plans to achieve them. It’s not too late…start now to get a jump on 2016. Make it a great year by being in control and focused. It makes a big difference!

What’s your #1 goal for 2016? Share it in the comments below. Thanks! 

Investors Need Love Too

Q4 is often a quarter for investor meetings hosted by Private Equity firms. The good ones understand the importance of presenting their transformative actions in a relational, clear fashion. The bad ones go through the motions without taking the right level of responsibility for what they generated and especially, what they didn’t generate.

Deliver Results with Confidence

Committed PE firms take the time to carefully engineer their results in such a way that investors understand not only the mathematics behind their MOI (multiple on investment), but also the care they took in delivering their news from their investor’s frame of reference, not their own. The best PE firms also take the delivery of their annual report card as seriously as the content they have created. They realize the important adage: “People buy people first, product second.”

It’s Not Just About the Math

I’ve had the pleasure of coaching many Private Equity executives and CEOs in their delivery of their core messages. Being conversational and confident is mission critical here. What you say is important but, how you say it may be even more so. An investor once shared with me how important he felt delivery was.

“I expect the mathematics to be correct. What I look for now is how at ease the team is in their delivery of their information. If they are comfortable in front of me (and 100 other investors), then I’m confident that their comportment inside the “engine-room” of their portfolio companies will drive the team effort required to profitably scale them.”

Be a Master Presenter

Therefore, every time you and your organization has an important presentation to deliver, be impeccable with your content but also be responsible in your mastery of the delivery required to confidently and clearly deliver your message.

What’s your biggest challenge as you prepared to deliver 2016 recommendations? Let me know below in the comments.