Put Me In, Coach! Setting goals, building a team, and getting results
Imagine it’s December 2023 and you’re about to stand up and thank your team for a job well done. You’re happy because you set—and met—many strong goals for your business this year, including your profit goals. This year’s strong profits allowed you to distribute meaningful bonuses to your team and make plans for investments that will help grow your business in the years to come. Yes, there were some challenges, but for once you didn’t feel it was all on your shoulders. Your team really stepped up. Now, as you reflect on what actions made the difference, several things stand out.
You set strong goals for the year. At your annual owners planning retreat, you took some time to think about your future and what you wanted—not only for your business, but also for your family. You revisited your exit strategy and timeline and set a goal for what your business should be worth by that time. This got you thinking about what profit your business must generate to get what you want for the business when you decide to sell. Once you determined your profit goal, you calculated the sales and margins needed to generate that profit. Then you built a budget to detail the monthly financial road map to your sales and profit goals.
In addition to the numbers, you envisioned your personal life, including that when you are away from the business you’d like to be offline as much as possible. You also decided you wanted to focus most of your time on what you like and on the things you do well.
You shared your goals with your team. For the first time, you shared your goals with your team at an offsite retreat. They appreciated your confidence in them and were glad to hear about your goals and plan to focus your time. They shared their frustration about being pulled in too many directions. They even told you that your time could be better spent, which led to an interesting discussion about the things they think you excel at—and at what things you don’t. Some of that felt a little uncomfortable, but you had to admit they had some good points.
You and your team created a meaningful KPI scorecard. At that same meeting, you and your team members created a KPI scorecard that listed monthly goals tied to your annual goals. Some were financial (revenue, gross profit, labor costs, expense controls); others were around marketing, systems, and customer satisfaction.
Since you wanted your KPI scorecard to fit on one page, you evaluated each KPI target to see how important it was to achieving your overall yearly goals. If it was vital to meeting those goals, the target stayed on the scorecard; if not, off it went.
The financial goals were the easy part. It was harder to create measurable goals around your leadership and desired lifestyle. For example, you and the team decided that every month you would be 60% or more focused on things you do well and enjoy. This goal felt a little squishy to you, but you decided to go with it.
You created source people for each KPI. Each KPI goal was assigned to a person responsible for meeting the goal, but they could enlist or assign others some responsibilities toward meeting it. You were pleasantly surprised when more than enough people volunteered to be a source person for each KPI. (You assigned yourself as the source person for the leadership KPIs.)
You conducted monthly SET meetings to review KPI progress. Starting in January, you conducted a monthly Strategic Execution Team (SET) meeting to review your KPI scorecard. You celebrated when you met or exceeded your goals and took corrective action when you didn’t. You were pleased to see how often team members came up with innovative solutions to problems that weren’t even in their area of responsibility.
Although you didn’t use this process to punish team members who weren’t performing up to standard, it quickly became apparent when one of them habitually didn’t meet their goals—despite extra coaching, training, and support from you and the team. It was a tough decision, but you had to let that person go.
Surprisingly, some of the largest impact came from that squishy goal you set around how you spent your time each month. Your team was more than willing to call you out when you got involved in tasks they deemed unworthy of your time. During the year, different team members took on some duties you always disliked—and, as it turned out, were much better at them than you ever were!
You got a coach. Change is hard. Having a coach to provide support, guidance, and accountability was key to making the shift to this new system. For example, you were glad the coach was there to lead the first 6 months of SET meetings, as it allowed you to focus on the content instead of having to be a “player coach.”
The result? You had the time and energy to work on the business versus working in it. You found that you looked forward to going into the office most days, and on your days off you were truly offline (mostly, anyway). You even made plans to open that new location you’d been dreaming about for years. And one of your team members who emerged as a star player during the year will be its new manager.
Lauren Owen is a business coach and facilitator who helps closely held businesses, particularly family businesses, build effective teams and execute successful ownership transitions. She is a longtime associate, collaborator with Profit Soup and a contributing author for its new workshop, “Level Up Your Financial Coaching.” Learn more at ProfitSoup.com, email her at email@example.com, or call 206-282-3888.
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