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Impact: Answering Your Tough Business Questions

Posted by Cristina Filippo on 07/19/2017
1. For the last couple of years, our team has met at the end of the year and attempted to put together a strategic plan.  However, by about March, it seems to stall out.  How can we become more effective in our strategic planning process?
There are three aspects to strategic planning that we feel are crucial for success.  First, don’t overwhelm your team with too many initiatives.  It is better to focus and finish three well-done initiatives than to end up at the end of the year with ten incomplete or poorly executed initiatives.  Second, customize a strategic planning tracker so that every time the team meets each person on that team is able to report on their progress as well as discuss hurdles that they need to get team input on.  That leads us to the final point which is to have a consistent meeting time set aside separate from your weekly meeting to work on your strategic plan.  Having those regular meeting times exclusively focused on the strategic side of the business is critical.

2. My company has a very low retention rate.  I really feel that it has something to do with our hiring process.  What tips do you have regarding how I interview job candidates?
First, make the distinction between skill sets and competencies.  Skill set questions have to do with the actual job at hand and ensuring that the candidate has the basic knowledge needed to get the job done.  Competencies have more to do with those traits that a person possesses that align with a hiring company’s values and vision.  Examples of these are integrity, work ethic, flexibility, etc. With competencies, you should not just address core values and cultural fit, but also ask questions about early leadership experiences. This might include if the candidate had been captain of the football team, had a role in student government, if they threw papers and were charged with collections too, landed a job in which they moved quickly to leading people, etc.  This will give you some key insights into some innate leadership traits that were evident early on in their career.

3. I do a lot of reading about leadership and there seems to be some contradictory information out there.  Regarding leadership traits, which one is the most important for a leader to possess?
Often leaders get promoted because of their individual production; however, research indicates that those leaders that are most effective are the ones who are really good at relationships and able to collaboratively build teams that get the work done.  We have all seen those leaders who appear to get things done effortlessly where others struggle to make progress. Many successful leaders make this look easy but great relationships and effective stakeholder engagement is the product of focused and sustained effort.  

4. I’ve been considering hiring a coach to work with several of my high potential leaders, but I know from talking to other CEOs this can be a big spend.  What is the research on how effective coaching really is?
When it comes to building a team of highly effective individuals, a coach can be a powerful resource who can help leaders understand what their strengths and developmental opportunities are, understand the impact they have on the team, and encourage action to achieve the things that are truly important to them and the organization. According to the International Coaching Federation, 60% of respondents from organizations with strong coaching cultures report their revenue to be above average, compared to their peer group.  Additionally, a recent Gallup study revealed that just 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. Yet according to a study done by ICF, coaching correlates with increased employee engagement; 65% of employees from companies with strong coaching cultures rated themselves as highly engaged. The question maybe shouldn't be whether or not to get a coach, but how to find the right coach.

5. I work in the manufacturing industry and I’m not sure we are functioning to our highest potential.  Do you have any tips on addressing conflict that keeps cropping up on our leadership team?
One of the most difficult obstacles for a team to overcome is their understanding of conflict on a team.  Conflict with regards to good ideological debate is a good thing!  You want people on your team to question and debate looking at all sides of a situation in which something important is being decided.  However, if the conflict starts to negatively impact the team and become personal attacks then an intervention is probably in order.  There are two paths here – one is having a consultant come in and do some work with the team to ensure that they are functioning at the highest level of performance.  Another path is to hire a coach and begin to address on an individual level what is going on behind the scene that is causing the conflict. Invariably, there is some self-awareness and other-awareness that has to be brought to the surface so that assumptions are diminished and understanding is increased across teammates.

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