January is Over, Time To Review and Adjust!

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At OpenView, we have our monthly review on Monday using a pretty straightforward system for checking how we are doing and making adjustments. We also recommend this approach to our portfolio companies. Here is the basic approach written more from the perspective of offering advice to expansion stage CEOs:

If you are locked and loaded for the year (or even if you just are working toward quarterly goals), it is now time to check how you are doing against your planned goals for the quarter at the senior management level; reflect on the activities, results, and market changes that have taken place over the last month; and make appropriate adjustments for the plans going forward.

The simplest way to do this is to have each manager mark his/her quarterly goals with a Red, Yellow, Green color code in preparation for the senior management meeting:

Green- My unit will hit this goal
Yellow- We are having some difficulties, but my unit will hit this goal
Red- We are going to miss this goal unless we get some assistance from others

The easiest way to work through the conversation is to put an agenda item at the end of your weekly meeting. You could have a separate meeting for this, but it is a lot easier to incorporate it into your weekly meeting and see how it works. (You can always add a separate meeting if it doesn’t work well as part of your weekly meeting.)

The way to get through the meeting efficiently is to focus on the Red items (since the green and yellow items are going to be met). This is easier to write than to execute, as the tendency of most people is to want praise and they are going to want to talk about all of their activities and accomplishments. To overcome this distraction, quickly congratulate the managers for being on plan for the items that are on plan and to remind them that you have a separate venue periodically that congratulates the team on its accomplishments (of course, you need to make sure that you have that venue if you are going to use this approach).

For the Red items, some discussion will be necessary. For example:

  • What is the key reason for not hitting the goal? (lack of focus?, lack of skill?, dependencies?, too many goals?, distractions? the goal is no longer relevant?)
  • (if the goal is still important) What are the options for hitting the goal? (can resources be rearranged to better meet the overall goals for the company? Can you get some outside assistance? Can a different person/department take on the goal?)
  • What is the best option?
  • What adjustments are we committing to?

Your goal for the meeting should be to get through the red items at the meeting with a clear and committed set of adjustments for the rest of the quarter that will allow you to nail as many of your most important goals as possible.

A well run agenda item with all the goals green/yellow should take 10 minutes to get through. Since this is probably an unlikely event, each item needs to be worked through and the time it takes will depend on the team and their capabilities (it will definitely take a lot more time the first few times you do this, but after several months of this teams generally get into a rhythm and the process runs pretty smoothly).

Going into the senior management meeting, you may find that it is good practice for each of the senior managers to run the same process with their teams (and so on for each level of management if you are a large company with multiple layers).

Give it a try if you are not already doing something like this…it really helps senior management teams execute business growth strategies and any company that is managing through significant change.