What a difference a deadline makes!

Have you found that during the last month of your financial year there is more focused activity towards meeting annual budgets and KPI’s?

What is different?  The end of financial year is just a line in the sand.  But everybody buys into it, don’t they.  It is a deadline that creates urgency.  This urgency means that we are focused on the most important activities – we are doing the stuff that really counts. Energy is high, there is less procrastination, and blocks are addressed.  We look forward, with anticipation to the new year – a fresh start!

So why not have an EOFY every month?  If big goals are kicked in this deadline driven environment at year end – then why not replicate it during the year.  We become more focused, more productive, more inventive and get to celebrate the new year 12 times a year.

Have you noticed that, when you have a bad month early in the year it doesn’t seem so significant because you have plenty of time, another 10 months or so, to make it up.

What a waste!  And what is going to change?  Why do we think that we are going to perform above current levels in order to catch up if we are not doing it now?  This is a mindset which I have found is often the precursor to poor full year results – the underlying belief that there is enough time to catch up – the urgency hasn’t kicked in and we are kidding ourselves!

If we don’t have 10 months or so to catch up then this reasoning is invalid.  If we have an EOFY every month then having a poor month really isn’t an option.  Every month matters.

Then there is the “what’s the point” mentality that occurs when annual budgets and KPI’s seem impossible to reach.

The team gives up and becomes even less effective.  This can occur 3 months (or more) out from year end and this lack of achievement can become very demoralising.  The team can’t wait for 1 July when the slate gets wiped and a new story begins.  What a waste – so much time spent (and never to be regained!) at well below potential.

With an EOFY every month, you get to start again more often – a new “year”, a new budget, new KPI’s, new energy!  You get to take time to celebrate your progress and your wins and to reset 12 times each year.

Warning!!  This is not just about breaking your annual plan down to more “doable” chunks – it is a mindset which must become part of the way you do things.

Your language, your thinking, your actions must all align with the new belief that there are 12 EOFY’s each financial year.  Or that your years are now 4 weeks long not 52!  It won’t work if there is an underlying belief that 30 June is the actual deadline and this is when the results that really matter are measured.  Once installed into your culture the 1 month year creates a heightened sense of urgency and an increased focus on the critical activities which drive results and fulfilment.

Don’t wait until 30 June to change to your 1 month year – it can be implemented at any time.

Businesses we are working with to create their 12 month plans now, are starting their first 1 month year from 1 July – the longer you wait the more time passes, the more opportunities you are missing.

The mindset that comes with this concept is very powerful – each month we aim to be better than the previous month. The cry is – “How will we beat last month”!  The compounding effect of growth month by month is the key.  Compare this to waiting 12 months to know if you have outperformed the previous year!

You may even choose for 30 June not to be one of your year ends for your business – to take that arbitrary line in the sand out of contention.

By the way, just 12 months ago we were working with an EOFY every 3 months.  Now we have chunked down even further to 1 month years.  Why?  Because:

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Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are more than a number.

If your KPI’s are used to measure an individual’s performance and how they are rewarded, they will evoke an emotional response and they will drive behaviour.

The KPI’s that the team think carry the most weight in the assessment process will be those that drive behaviours the most.

Why would the team think that one KPI was more important than others?  Because they make an assessment based on:

There will be an automatic skew, then, towards the activities that drive those KPI’s deemed more important.

This skewed focus causes silos in organisations – in an endeavour to meet KPI’s team members may “isolate” themselves in order to focus on certain tasks, at the expense of other tasks and other team members.

Case study:

Jerry is a salesman selling widgets and he perceives the KPI that will have the biggest impact on his career progression and his bonuses is a sales KPI – 1000 units per day.  So his focus is on selling – he is operating alone as a silo in order to meet this benchmark.  Even though his position description requires him to train and assist other salespeople, to nurture customers post sale, to do the leg work to bring new customers into the business, and come up with innovative ways to do things better – these activities are put on the back burner, deemed less important.  

The customer enquiry goes unanswered, the community events unattended, the system ineffective and the team floundering without training – these are the symptoms of a KPI system only half done.

There is more to building KPI’s that measure the performance of activities included in a position description.  The next step is to build a measuring, reporting and publishing system that reflects the weighting given to the KPI’s which in turn reflects the behaviours you want to encourage.

So Jerry would notice that the same degree of emphasis was being placed on training, nurturing, rainmaking and innovation as on selling and his behaviour would accommodate this. It is to his advantage to be a team player.

And he knows this to be the case because weekly team meetings cover all KPI’s, performance reviews do the same and the language used by management is consistent with this understanding.

Don’t underestimate the last point – what management says can derail the best intentions.  Spend time ensuring that leaders understand this phenomenon, fully support the KPI structure and use appropriate language in all communications with the team.

And don’t let the subjectivity of KPI’s impact their place in the pecking order.  Yes, they may not be as easy to measure and report but they may be critical to the culture and performance of the organisation.

In summary, to drive the right behaviour with KPI’s you:

1.  Build objective and subjective KPI’s that measure the performance of activities included in a position description.

2.  Build a measuring, reporting and publishing system that reflects the weighting given to the position description KPI’s, which in turn directs the behaviours you want to encourage.

3.  Ensure that leaders understand this phenomenon, fully support the KPI structure and use appropriate language in all communications with the team.  Their talk must support the intent.

We would love to hear your feedback – please leave a comment.

See how Daily Huddles can also drive the right behaviour, and create rhythm and routine in your organisation.

A 24 hour business cannot mean a 24 hour commitment from the owner, can it?

Being accessible to your customers 24/7 may be the new reality of business with on-line shopping, extended opening hours and e-commerce… but what does it mean to the small business owner?  How on earth can a business owner be expected to be “on call” 365 days a year, 24 hours a day – that is not humanly possible and it certainly isn’t sustainable.

What I have found is that when business owners go on holidays or when their team is working on weekends, they may have left the building but their minds are still firmly entrenched in the business sandpit.  When the business is operating, these owners are still mentally at work – “on call” just in case something unusual happens – something the team wouldn’t be able to handle.

The only time owners sever this mental attachment is when the business is closed (or at least for some part of that time).

I have already seen the fall-out of this 24/7 story.  Owners who have not considered or planned for the impact of being mentally and emotionally “on call” without reprieve are fast losing their passion for their business – they blame the business, the team, the customers, the industry and the increasing demands around accessibility, for their state of mind.  They see no escape, no alternative and it becomes all pervasive, impacting on family, friends, community, health – they are at a loss and feel like they are failing at the one thing they did well and which in effect, defined them.

Business owners believe that they must move with the times (and rightly so) and embrace the concept of e-commerce, social media and longer opening hours and they begin the implementation process without due consideration to how this will work from a global perspective.  There are so many questions which must be asked before the process begins.

Questions like:

These few questions just touch the surface – invest the time in this pre-implementation process – research what others are doing in your industry, ask your team for input, attend information sessions, and survey your customers and your market (which may expand).  And then continually review, measure, and reset and engage with those who are doing business with you.

Don’t enter this brave new world without doing your homework.  And be warned… too often business owners are on this journey, well entrenched in the new business model before they know it – almost by stealth, little by little, hour by hour, longer opening hours have become the norm.  And owners wonder why they feel so totally overwhelmed.

Let me go back to the last question…

If this question isn’t addressed the likely outcome is not pretty… owners lose the fire in their belly, energy levels fall and the business begins to suffer along with the health and well-being of the owner and all those who he or she connects with.

The business must be designed to be fit for the purpose of a 24/7 operation which at the same time enables the owners to live a rich and fulfilling life.  There may need to be a reset around the owner’s beliefs concerning the role a business should or should not play in their lives.  Often the owner has a misconception (often unknowingly) that the business and their role in it defines them… they are the business and the success of the business is the only measure of success for themselves personally.  There is no separation.

In these circumstances, as the business trades for longer hours, the business owner has the “opportunity” to become even more connected and reliant on the business – it becomes even more all-consuming.

The “rules” of a business must be biased towards the owner’s life plan – too often, the “rules” of life are biased towards ensuring the business plan works.

There is another way, a better way.  It is never too late to take back control.  Find out how at our BUSINESS by DESIGN Workshops



Are your non-negotiable published values driving behaviours in your business?  Or not?

What does your culture and your underlying values say about you and your business?  That is… the everyday, what is actually going on, behaviours – the ones that are making the most noise.

The first thing I do when I walk into businesses I work with is read their mission, vision and value statements that are displayed, beautifully framed for all to see.

It gives me an indication of what type of experience I can expect and whether there is an alignment between my beliefs and values and those of the business I am about to interact with.  Or, at least it should.

Four values I often see are:

So I would expect that these people would do what they say they are going to do when they say they are going to do it.  I would also expect that they would make recommendations, be relevant, and offer innovative solutions for my particular needs.  And they would do it with care and honesty.

That is my take on these values… but would it be yours?  What would they mean to you and your experience with this business?  And how might these values influence how each team member behaves?  For example, consider “responsive” – Is being responsive acting today, tomorrow, next week?  And what about “integrity” – is integrity compromised if a business does not take responsibility for a lost order?

Values play such an important role in defining the culture of an organisation.  However, a list of words leaves way too much to individual interpretation.

Tip:  The single word should be accompanied with “and what that means is” and further extended with “and this is how it plays out in our organisation.”  This helps reinforce the meaning of the value as it applies to this particular culture, to this team, and their interaction with others.

Values cannot be limited to behaviour around the customer or client relationship.  There cannot be one set of values for the customer experience and another for the team and another for the managers and yet another for the owners. But how often do you see this?  The values must be non-negotiable without exception across all relationships and interactions.  Everyone in the organisation must walk and talk the values consistently and with conviction.

Tip:  When you are writing your value statements consider including an example of how each value may play out under both a customer and a team scenario.

I mentioned what I would expect to see from an “outsiders” point of view given the published values… but what would I expect to see “inside” the organisation. Given the values listed above, I would expect that everyone – owners, managers, team members – would do what they said they would do when they said they would do it.  I would see evidence of innovative processes and a culture that encourages and rewards the contribution of new ideas, and a better way of doing things.  There would be no overdue actions on the action sheets.  Excuses would not be accepted, everyone would be willing to take responsibility without fear of retribution, and honesty would prevail.  KPI’s would be set, measured, and monitored in a proactive way.

The listed values can add significant “value” to any organisation if they are actually driving behaviours, and are reflected in processes, policy, and actions and demonstrated daily.  Values add no value at all if they are merely words or assertions – in fact they can devalue the organisation because the people interacting become confused and disappointed when their experience is not what they were promised or expected.

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