Closing the Gap
Businesses are always looking for ways to make their management and staff more productive and their companies more profitable. Many top rated companies have turned to training and development only to be disappointed. Many others have created rigorous strategic plans that don't come close to delivering the needed outcomes. According to authors Michael C. Mankins and Richard Steele in their August 2005 Harvard Business Review article titled "Turning Strategy into Great Performance", the average team achieves only 63% of the objectives of their strategic plans.
Why is there a gap? What gets in the way? The key issues are how well the team does its business planning, communicates, aligns around top initiatives, creates short term and long-term plans, and holds themselves accountable to deliver the results.
The amazing thing is that you know this and yet like most others may lack the know-how or discipline to make sure these issues are addressed each and every day. Like others you may refer to these skills as the "soft issues" because you don't see how they are measurable or quantifiable and therefore don't believe they are as important to performance as more typical indicators of success. Yet their research shows clearly that these skills and disciplines are the biggest levers that enable high performance teams close the performance gap.
The authors summarize the results of their findings by listing the five top issues contributing to the performance gap:
- Companies rarely track performance against the top annual priorities
- Multi-year results rarely meet projections
- A lot is lost in translation due to poor communication and follow-through
- Performance bottlenecks are invisible to top management
- The strategy-to-performance gap fosters a culture of underperformance
What exactly do these mean and what can you do to take advantage of this information to close the gap in your business?
Start by accepting that your people are your business. More than your strategy, your marketing plan, your IT system or an entire finance department full of spreadsheets, management information and predictions, people are the key to your success. To transform your business, transform your people.