Power up for a Profitable New Year - Ten Ways to Get Your Employees Focused on What Really Matters - Part 1 by Dottie DeHart February 13, 2007 -- Your company's end-of-the-year financials are in, and much like last year, they aren't exactly the holiday pick-me-up you were hoping for. You're not sure why. At the beginning of 2006 you met with your employees to express your concern over the company's meager profits. You thought they left the meeting inspired and motivated--yet here you are a year later. Sales haven't improved and the less-than-bountiful bonus your employees will receive isn't likely to spur them on to do better in the coming year. It's tempting to think your employees just don't care about the bottom line, but since they all have mortgages to pay, kids to feed, and retirement plans to fund, you know that can't be true. Surely, every member of the team wants your company to succeed. According to David Giannetto and Anthony Zecca, the problem isn't a lack of motivation; it's a lack of focus. You simply aren't helping them zero in on the right issues—those areas that boost performance and efficiency levels. "Your employees want to contribute to the bottom line, but no one in the higher levels of management is telling them what, specifically, they need to do to achieve that" "Your employees want to contribute to the bottom line, but no one in the higher levels of management is telling them what, specifically, they need to do to achieve that," say Giannetto and Zecca, co-authors of the new book The Performance Power Grid: The Proven Method to Create and Sustain Superior Organizational Performance. "They can't meet organizational goals because they are too busy fighting fires that arise during the workday. Their focus changes daily. Employees need a clear, practical way to understand exactly what they should be doing every hour of every day." What companies really need--and what this new book describes--is a methodology that creates long-term, sustainable, superior organizational performance by closing the gap between strategy and execution, properly focusing employee action, and giving them the information they need to make better, timelier decisions. The Performance Power Grid transforms individual, tactical employee actions into a unified effort in which everything everyone does is focused on driving the performance of the entire organization. Here are ten ways the Performance Power Grid can help you get your employees focused on those areas that truly matter—and that will improve your financials in 2007: Streamline your processes. Obviously, something is going on at your organization that is preventing you from reaching the success you and your employees are striving for. It's likely that the core of your problems rest in your processes themselves. Are your employees hindered by unnecessary paperwork? Do they have to go to upper-management to ask permission to do things they could easily handle themselves? These are all problems in your processes themselves, and all they do is waste your employees' time and your company's money. It's likely that the core of your problems rest in your processes themselves. "The Power Grid forces you to take a look at these pointless and time-consuming processes," says Giannetto. "It will help you determine your power drivers, the things that truly drive the success of your company. When you know what they are, you can easily eliminate the unnecessary steps that have gradually built up in your processes. Your employees will appreciate the extra time they have available to focus on more important tasks." Implement dashboards that look across departments. A major roadblock to any company's success is its employees' tendency to get stuck in their own silos. Their unwillingness to leave those silos--their comfort zones--prevents them from being able to do everything in their power to drive the company forward. One way to draw your employees out of their silos is to create dashboards that show the relationships between departments. These dashboards will allow all employees to see what is going on in other departments and will enable people to get to know the impact they are having on their coworkers that, otherwise, they'd never get to see. Soon your employees will leave their silos to seek the help of their newfound comrades in other departments. "Inter-departmental dashboards are a great way to use the Grid to naturally draw people out of their silos and cubicles," says Zecca. "You can stand back and watch as your employees realize they personally can be more successful with the assistance of those around them. Each person begins to focus on the same problem from his or her own perspective, but also works toward a common goal that's in the best interest of the organization." Focus on quick wins. When you introduce the Grid at your organization, it's likely that you will hear a lot of grumblings and complaints from your employees. Let's face it: they won't be thrilled about having to get familiar with yet another business model. And until they see the Grid actually working for them, their attitudes aren't likely to improve. That's why you must focus on quick wins, particularly when the Grid is just getting underway. You may be telling them you care about their needs, and that the Grid is going to help you meet those needs, but showing them will truly get them motivated. "A quick win doesn't mean a huge cost to the organization and is actually a way of lowering your risk," says Giannetto. "But, it is something that will mean a lot to your employees. It shows them that this isn't just one more new business initiative that will further complicate their jobs and require more change. Giving them easy access to the information they need each day shows them that management really can fix problems--and that you really do care." You can stand back and watch as your employees realize they personally can be more successful with the assistance of those around them. Make sure decision makers get the information they need on a daily basis. Managers need something that provides feedback on where the organization is now and where it is going in the future. Managers at each level need a real-time view of what is happening. To get them focused on what they should be doing in 2007 to evoke different results from their employees, metrics are required. "Properly constructed, they reveal where the organization is heading and give managers the opportunity to prevent failure or seize an opportunity before it is too late," says Giannetto. Outline each employee's individual responsibilities and then measure his or her progress. You may assume your employees know exactly what their jobs require them to focus on, but in their day-to-day work lives that focus may get a little fuzzy. Hold one-on-one meetings with each of your employees. Ask what a normal day looks like for them. Are they getting caught up in tasks that aren't driving results? Help them re-assess where their main focus should go, and figure out a way to measure their progress. If an employee can then use the Power Grid to see her progress, she won't allow herself to get bogged down in company politics and she'll change the way she does things to ensure they are more efficient. "All of the confusion of boardroom talk, mission and visions statements, and company newsletters will be set aside, and in its place will be ten to fifteen metrics for each employee," says Zecca. "To their delight, these metrics tell them not only what they are responsible for, but what their performance is—and why it is what it is—in a way that actually makes their jobs easier." This is just a start. Check back in tomorrow for the next five steps: * Let your employees evaluate you * Encourage them to sell more to existing customers. * Emphasize the importance of daily tasks as part of the whole * Give employees what they need * Keep them on their toes