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Ken Keller: Why your results aren’t materializing

Brain Food For Business Owners

Posted: October 6, 2013 8:00 a.m.
Updated: October 6, 2013 8:00 a.m.
 

It’s the start of the final quarter of the calendar year. Your company is falling behind the plan you set at the beginning of the year and even though you revised the numbers at midyear, the company is still falling short.

Not achieving results in any organization is a great source of frustration to owners and leaders. It may be a chronic problem, happening year after year. Here are some specifics as to why results are lacking.

The first, and the most common reason, is that the goals were never achievable in the first place. Owners and leaders have a tendency to set high goals, assuming that everyone would rise to the occasion and deliver.

Unfortunately, this is almost always never the case. I’d like to believe that employed people do the best they can under whatever circumstances they are in. But I also know that many individuals often give up when they see they aren’t going to achieve a goal.

Assuming that reasonable, jointly agreed to goals were established, are people really being held accountable?

Sales numbers are easy to measure, but numbers in the rest of the company maybe not so much.  

Is it possible to measure the impact of the receptionist, janitor or accounting clerk on revenue, client acquisition or profit?

The next time you walk into a place of business, look at the individuals working and ask yourself “what results are these people supposed to achieve?”

I stopped spending my money at one local Starbucks because I thought for sure the goal of the people working there was to socialize with each other, not take care of the customers.

People aren’t supposed to be hired to do “stuff” yet far too many of them do just that. This happens all day long, week after week, month after month.  

How that stuff brings value to clients and revenues and profits to the organization is a challenge that leadership must address to achieve results.

I don’t mean the employees are disengaged; I mean they are disconnected from business results. Unfortunately, this strategic thinking to bring greater internal alignment and focus never takes place.

What also typically happens is that the results sought are internally in conflict. A credit manager has the responsibility to manage assets, including cash. This position also manages risk exposure.

Those in sales are charged with finding new business to sell to. This sometimes means bringing to the company opportunities prospects with less than stellar credit.

In this scenario, those in sales have sales goals that run directly counter the instructions provided to the credit manager. I’ve seen this happen in more than a few companies and it is a constant source of friction and discouragement.

Since credit and sales are at cross purposes anyway, conversations aren’t likely to happen about receiving conflicting orders.

I’ve noticed that there is often no hierarchy of results. No one has taken the time to explain how the sought after individual results tie into the results of the department, and then to the company.

It should be that, broken down person by person, it becomes clear what people have to do, by when, and in what order. This process also identifies when people don’t do what they are supposed to be doing, and so that corrective action can take place.

I’ve also witnessed something odd: results never being discussed once they have been set.  The “report card” is never produced and explained to those that need it.

Finally, people may be told what results to achieve, but cannot accomplish the assignment.   These reasons include not having the tools, not being motivated or lacking the understanding of the process.

Want better results in this last quarter? Use this column as a checklist to insure you have set up your company to succeed and not to fail.

Ken Keller is CEO of STAR Business Consulting Inc., a company that works with small and midsize business owners to grow top line revenue. He can be reached at KenKeller@SBCglobal.net. Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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