Constantly getting defence speeches? A more proactive approach is probably called for.

In organizations today, particularly in the more target oriented, it’s not uncommon that we as leaders see ourselves as responsible of setting the targets, dictating “What to achieve”, but expect our employees to be accountable for and to decide on “How to do it”.

To create extra motivation to reach these targets, we have bonus systems, using KPIs to measure our progress and performance. While we are very proactive in the beginning of the year making forecasts, budgets and setting the targets (KPIs), we end up being followers reactively chasing these targets for the rest of the year. We have numerous follow-ups with our employees to ensure whether we are on target or not, and if not, we ask “Why?”. As a logical result, to cover their own backs, our employees prepare detailed defence and apology speeches, leaving us with only one tool left. To apply some more pressure, but without any guarantee that the results will be improved.

Don’t get me wrong, this can be powerful sometimes, but we are still not acting proactively. Neither do we know what solutions our employees are working with to reach our targets. The KPIs alone cannot secure the quality or overall acceptance of the solutions. How can we make sure that our employees have a plan on how to improve the results?

A proactive approach is a more logical solution. This is my suggestion on how you can plan and prepare to run a proactive follow up instead.

Follow the steps in the funnel below from top to bottom:

  1. You start the session with an icebreaker.
  2. Ask the person you have invited to your follow-up session to sketch, write and tell his or her view of the overall business situation and strategy.
  3. Ask the person to explain the translated/adapted vision/strategy which his or her unit will utilize for guidance of their development. Find out how the process to adapt the strategy was run.
  4. Ask the person to write or draw and explain the identified gaps their department has chosen to cover.
  5. Ask the person to share the plan or roadmap to cover the gaps.
  6. Ask for an overview of the action plans. Who does what, when, how, with support from whom etc.
  7. Move on to look at the KPIs. Choose the perspective of checking if the above roadmap, plans and actions are suitable to improve the KPIs. If necessary, go back to the plan and adjust with additional/other steps.

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