Working the Plan

© Copyright 2011 CorbisCorporationThe holidays are behind us and the New Year is here. Time to get to work on actually implementing that strategic business plan you’ve toiled over for the better part of the last quarter. You know success is waiting to be had, if only the thoughts you’ve so painstakingly crafted in black and white could be brought to life in your credit union. Whether you’re struggling with where to start, or past history says you get derailed somewhere later on in the calendar year, let me share a few sure fire ways to get going and stay on track as the year progresses.

Getting started:© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporation

Communicate, communicate, communicate – make absolutely certain your entire staff not only knows what the critical goals and organizational initiatives you must achieve this year are, but that they also understand the “why” behind them.  Based on my experience this is the cornerstone that must be laid correctly to have any chance of achieving your desired results.

Dealing with leftovers – just like the abundance of uneaten food we had to deal with over the holidays – if we don’t wrap up, properly dispose of, or digest the remaining projects in a timely manner stuff can go bad in a hurry. Don’t let last year’s unfinished assignments continue to consume precious resources this year – hold those responsible accountable to produce tangible results now. While any organization with an ambitious agenda will have these issues to deal with, use their timely completion to set the tone for a year of execution, not excuses.

Creating congruency – be certain that the critical goals and initiatives from the organization’s strategic plan match up with the individual & departmental goals for the year. If your credit union’s overall plan reflects significant changes in key performance metrics but similar measures on which an individual’s performance will be based reflect only modest improvement, what do you think the actual outcome will more likely be?

Staying on track:Business Meeting at Conference Table, High Angle View

Reporting Progress – updates and results should be provided on at least a monthly basis, if not more frequently. By providing clear, concise updates your team will start to feel the positive energy that is created by momentum. Conversely, if there is little to report the results will quickly reflect inertia.

Clarify expectations upfront – Expectations are tricky. Are you more concerned with the end result or are there critical factors along the way that must be “done right”? Has the scope been properly identified to provide the operating boundaries which will eliminate the potential for creep to set in and cause unnecessary delays? The more clearly you can define the vision at the outset, the faster objectives can be met and the greater your chances for success.

Demonstrate support through resource allocation & empowerment – Once you’ve plainly stated the critical objectives and success factors get the right resources assigned to the job and stay out of the way. Make sure the team adequately represents the business lines that will be instrumental in accomplishing the work and that ultimate ownership is already identified. Provide them with the right level of access to the necessary tools required – no more, no less. Then be content with those timely progress reports (see above).

Embrace disciplined flexibility – Do you have a process in place to deal with potential changes to the plan? How you handle the pace of change in today’s world can be a critical factor in your success (or failure).  Don’t overreact, don’t get caught up in appeal of shiny new objects or “me too” thinking. Do have a disciplined process or structure in place to effectively manage changes in a timely manner when the circumstances warrant. Always remember to keep your organization top priorities in place while responding appropriately to the ever-changing environment around you.

That’s it. Grab a cup of coffee (or two) it’s time to get to work. Make 2014 the most fulfilling and rewarding year ever – on all fronts. That’s my resolution – to CU Succeed.

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