I enjoy watching movies. Story telling is such a fascinating way to connect with other experiences of the world. I, not so recently, watched a movie called Enders Game. It’s a sci-fi movie about a young man who is recruited to battle aliens in space. I won’t spend much time reviewing the movie – I’ll save that for the pros. However, there is a great exchange in the movie that got me thinking about the way people do business.
The scene happens at the end of a battle, where Ender (the young man) just won a battle. He and his colonel are disagreeing about the way the battle was won.
The colonel says, “We won! That’s all the matters.”
To which Ender replies, “No. The way we win matters.”
It reminded me of a strategic planning course I took in my Ph.D. program. I walk in the first day of class, I take a seat, and wait for class to begin. The instructor comes in and begins the class by asking, “Why do we do strategic planning?” Before any of us could finish our breath to answer, he shouts, “TO WIN! TO BEAT THE COMPETITION. THAT’S WHY!”
Now, when I ask business owners what matters most and where they want to see improvement in their company, what I most often hear is:
The Bottom Line! That’s what matters! Cash flow, overhead, revenue, margins, and growth…
However, it doesn’t usually take long to see or hear that there is much more to the story. When business owners and leaders begin talking about their work, the bottom line is seldom the center of the story. People rather often talk about being the best at what they do, taking care of their customers, making a difference in peoples’ lives, taking good care of their employees, or reference their mission statement.
These are the things that matter – that really matter. However, attention to the bottom line is requisite to tending to the things that matter. With no revenue, there’s no business. With no profit, there’s no growth. When your company doesn’t grow, your people don’t grow. When people don’t grow, they leave.
On the other hand, when you focus on the bottom line more than on what matters, there can be damage done to your company. Your employees may burnout, you might damage your reputation, or your quality may suffer.
So how do you balance what matters with what’s required so that your business improves performance and achieves meaningful results? Performance planning.
What is Performance Planning?
Performance Planning helps your business focus on what matters in a profitable way
The best way to find balance between the bottom line and the things that matter is to just connect the dots.
Here’s a simple outline of performance planning.
Start with your values – the things that are important to the way you do business. Let this drive everything else. Be authentic and invest in the things you care about…the rest will follow. I suggest writing a list of the top 10 words you want others to think of when they think about your company. Once you have identified your values, you know what matters most to your company. These are the things that matter so much that if they were lost, it wouldn’t even be worth having the company.
Let your values shape your vision – the way you will change the world. Your vision describes the impact your business has on the people it touches. Creating a vision statement encompasses everything you are and everything you want to accomplish in a succinct way.
Define your mission – the who, what, and how of your business. Who will your business serve, what will your company do, and how will your company do it? If you want improved performance, you need to know what you’re performing. Your employees must be clear about the businesses mission; how else can they be expected to achieve it?
Clarify your goals – the things you will accomplish in pursuit of your mission. These goals need to be aligned with your mission and vision and consistent with your values. This is your key to meaningful results. Your goals need to be specific, measurable, realistic, have a deadline, and be important enough to dedicate your time and effort toward.
Identify your objectives – what you must do to achieve your goals. This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Break your goals down into workable components. Think of objectives as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd base and your goal as home plate (if you’re in to sports analogies). Objectives help you focus on components of your goal so that you don’t miss any details.
Let’s give this process some life, shall we?
Performance planning example: Sam’s Sweets
Imagine there is a woman named Sam who is the owner of an ice cream shop (my first job happened to be at an ice cream shop known for its certain number of flavors).
Sam wants to increase her business’ performance, but her employees are burned out and don’t know what Sam means when she says she needs more from them. People are tired and stressed and starting to get frustrated with one another; in fact, one employee (Sara) came to Sam and said she is thinking about getting a new job because the ice cream shop just isn’t the same as it used to be.
This is as common a scenario as I have seen… so, how does performance planning help? What does Sara mean the shop isn’t what it used to be?
Performance planning, as we define it, breathes life back into what matters, the stuff that made the shop what it used to be. Let’s take a look at what the product might look like after going through the performance planning process…
|Business Name:||Sam’s Sweets, L.L.C.|
|Values:||Family, Community, & Quality|
|Vision:||To create the best possible dessert experience|
|Mission:||To provide Kalamazoo the highest quality ice cream service through offering fresh, made-from-scratch products; a family-friendly atmosphere; and excellent customer service.|
|Goals:||1. Provide same-day fresh ice cream to every customer through the first quarter.
2. Greet every customer with standard Sam’s Sweets greeting for the month of January.
3. Every employee will receive customer service training within 30 days of hire and will renew within 30 days of year anniversary through the entire year.
|Objectives:||Provide same-day fresh ice cream to every customer through the first quarter.
1. Plan flavor schedule through the quarter.
2. Order product for the following week no later than Wednesday each week.
Greet every customer with standard Sam’s Sweets greeting for the month of January.
1. Include greeting training in new-hire packet for new employees.
2. Train shift leaders to model the greeting and track greetings through each shift.
Every employee will receive customer service training within 30 days of hire and will renew within 30 days of year anniversary through the entire year.
1. Contact customer service training agencies and select best option.
2. Schedule 12 training dates (one per month) for new hires and retraining.
Once Sam is able to identify these objectives, communicate these goals to her staff and map them to the core mission, vision, and values of the business, she will see improved performance – in ways that matter.
Running a successful ice cream business matters to Sam;
The WAY she runs a successful ice cream business matters more.