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Ken Keller: Write your year-end letter to your employees now

Posted: June 30, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 30, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Ken Keller

 

Last week I covered the Business Charter, which includes the organizations’ vision statement. This single sentence is a tool helping individuals at all levels in an organization to become engaged.

The vision statement is also a tool that business owners and leaders should use to maintain focus and to measure progress to the ultimate objective.

A complimentary tool, seldom used but a very effective, is for the leader to bring the organization’s vision to life by painting a picture, in words, of the progress being made.

I recommend every owner and leader draft a short letter to their employees in the next week. The hitch is that the date of the letter is December 31st of this year.

Taking the time to think and put on paper what the organization looks like in six months provides focus, energy and a deadline to get things accomplished. It’s empowering.

Here are some thoughts to consider as you write this for your employees:

■ This year we focused on taking care of clients, doing things right the first time and making sure that promises made were kept, to clients, suppliers and each other.

■ As the year started I did not think that accomplishing these three things could happen. Our track record was not very good; clients had soured on us and our internal follow through was lacking.

■ We did not know how to change our company, even though it was needed. Our business planning consisted of thoughts in my head; some vague goals I wanted the company to achieve and a list of problems that kept growing in number and complexity.

■ Since January 1st and especially the last six months, we made significant strides to improve. I thank you for your efforts.

■ Thank you for being patient as we made the necessary changes to how our business runs, what we focus on and what and how we deliver to clients.

■ We began the year with a written plan. It included goals at every level of the company and for every individual. These goals were measurable and we shared them.

■ Having a shared plan and goals was not enough. We lacked accountability. For accountability to work, all employees must be held responsible for getting things done by deadlines.

■ Not every employee accepted this new culture. We had to say good bye to those that did not see this better way for our company. The choice to leave was theirs and theirs alone.

■ We worked hard in 2013 on maintaining focus. In the past we tried to do too many things at the same time. But the result was that we failed at almost everything. This year our focus became much sharper.

■ We worked hard to get things done right, the first time, on time. Having daily update meetings helped to keep us all focused on priorities.

■ The single biggest challenge and change this year was that I needed to hold the individuals reporting to me accountable. With this came the responsibility to take action when those individuals did not do what they had committed to doing.

■ We started having monthly employee meetings. We have been able to report on our progress and celebrate successes.

■ Thank you for your focus, your willingness to be held accountable and to hold others accountable. It has made a tremendous difference this year.

■ Our future looks bright and we are moving forward. I believe that with your continued hard work, next year will be an even better year for our organization.

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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