Making mid-year adjustments to company plans helps many companies improve their tactics while remaining true to long-term objectives. So, how do you make these adjustments? By looking at the results. But keep in mind that looking at the results can give you only part of the story. If you want to make plan adjustments, you must look deeper, and here is why.
The first thing you'll want to do is look at an overview of where you are to plan. Progress to your annual plan and your strategic plan. Research from OnStrategy shows that “86% of executive teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy, and 95% of a typical workforce doesn’t understand its company’s strategy.”
While looking at the plan, you’ll want to:
John Kotter, a former professor at Harvard Business School and noted expert on innovation, says, “Strategy should be viewed as a dynamic force that constantly seeks opportunities, identifies initiatives that will capitalize on them, and completes those initiatives swiftly and efficiently.” It’s best if you are always looking at your plan and gearing up for change.
Next, you want to start looking at your leading and lagging indicators. Revenue and gross profit are significant numbers, but stare all you like: you can't change them.
Instead, focus on leading indicators in addition to the lagging ones. A lagging indicator is an observable or measurable factor that changes sometime after the economic, financial, or business variable with which it is correlated changes.
A leading indicator can give clues about success or failure before it's too late to adjust. Seeing these metrics on a graph can help you identify trends and gain more visibility into what is happening in your business. It's like calling timeouts during the game to discuss what is working or not and then adjusting.
One of your most potent tools for plan adjustments is your one-on-one meetings with your leadership team. But this is often one of the first things to fall off when things get busy.
One-on-one meetings can effectively drive behavior and motivate leaders who need that extra push. However, they become time-consuming and provide little value to either participant if they are not well-defined or focused.
A one-on-one meeting can also provide more insight into how things align with the plan and if any adjustments need to be made. Too often, you and your sales leader will discuss results or deals, but you don't know how they are doing with the plan. Start by asking:
By asking these questions, you will know what your sales leader is working on, and they'll be able to support positive change based on your plan adjustments.
Consider that if you do not align objectives across your company, you could have people replicating one another's work or, even worse, "rowing in the opposite direction."
As you conclude the adjustment efforts and shift to implementation mode, you must maintain momentum to avoid leaving your company wondering what the fuss was about.
You can guard against this by taking the following deliberate steps during your planning process.
Ensure the concept of implementation is part of the process from the start. Once you know what you need to adjust, don't let any discussions conclude without making it clear that it will change some things your company is currently doing. Some changes might even happen right away.
Start to schedule implementation meetings. You will need a "bridge" to get you from the plan and adjust the actions.
Once you have concluded what the plan adjustments should be, start prioritizing actions. Include your team to ensure that activities are strategically aligned — they will likely have more visibility of the contingencies and see the details you don’t. This is an excellent signal to your company that strategy matters. Everything starts from the top down.
When looking at plan adjustments, results only get you so far. First, you need to look deeper into your numbers, starting with your leading and lagging indicators. Then you need to meet with your sales leader to determine where they are according to plan and what adjustments need to be made. At that point, you’ll have the information you need to set up a plan of action to implement these changes.