Great plans don’t materialize by themselves. You have to execute them!

We have now reached the fourth and last post of coaching elements (“Belief-Dream-Plan-Execute”) using lived experiences.

In my last post, I wrote about the importance of devising a strong plan so you can revisit your goal/dreams on a daily basis, ensure you (your team) are on track and heading in the right direction. Also made the analogy to a ship –  the crew prepares a voyage plan before departure and, during EXECUTION, external factors and (involuntary) conditions may force them to constantly alter its route but the destination is kept as a goal.

When the team/people help crafting the plan, they feel accountable for executing it. The more people are involved in the plan, the more they are aware of the expectations from them and the more is achieved. If you as the leader own the ‘WHAT’ of execution then your team must be the owners of the ‘HOW’. Using your leadership coaching approach ask how, specifically are they going to achieve their goals. Speak simply and directly about this.

The beautiful thing of involving others in a plan is that they will help you ensuring accomplishment. That is what I’ve learned. When the team is involved since the conception phase, they create a personal attachment to the project and feel responsible for delivering it.

On the case I mentioned in my previous post, following were the main takeaways / actions from our execution phase which driven very positive results:

Focus on what was important: On the designing phase we created actions based on high impact and low effort criteria and limited it to 4 key aspects (only four!). Such actions were selected based on the team experience and data records. Having limited focus areas will prevent the team trying to boil the ocean and end up not accomplish 1/3 of the potential.

Assign the right people to the tasks: Devote time learning about people’s skills, potential, and background. Tasks were assigned according to capability and engagement – the ‘prime-movers’. If knowledge gap exists, it is paramount that the leader assigns the right training or coach for development – in our implementation both took place.

Ensure clarity & purpose: By having the team involved in all aspects of the strategy/plan, they knew by heart how individual effort supported the overall goal/the common purpose of the team. On execution phase, it is extremely important that every team member be 100% clear about how to execute the strategy along with its role and their responsibility.

Give the team space & empowerment: Once explained the ‘WHAT’ I allowed the team to work on the “HOW”. That gave them wiggle room to make decisions during execution phase to ensure that we remained on track towards the overall goal without my intervention or direct involvement – ensuring people accountability for actions.

Resilience/Remain on track: On day-to-day execution, sometimes, we may be distracted by new ideas or additional tasks which are not always linked to our core objective/goal. With the aim to remain on track, we often had “waste elimination” sessions. Along with that, we also reminded ourselves to probe “Is what I am doing now supporting our overall goal?” whenever embracing into new activities – even if that was requested by me/the leader. On those instances, where the answer was “NOT”, then we mindfully parked and “re-focused” on what had been agreed in the planning phase.

Create a safe environment for open dialogue: There was no bad idea or stupid question. We openly discussed our concerned and how to solve it as a team. We agreed to spend 30 minutes every day in the morning discussing the execution of our strategy, to flag burning issues affecting that and creating actions. On weekly basis, my management team had our strategy as part of our meeting agenda.

Track the benefit/measure it: We created a dashboard to measure the progress / implementation of our strategy – if you don’t measure, you cannot improve it. We had stakeholders sitting overseas and to ensure transparency in the process, we created an ‘e-VMS’ – an electronic version of the ‘VMS-visual management system’ we had in our office which was used to measure the performance and impact of our actions – a cornerstone for execution.

Celebrate success: Big or small, we tried our best to celebrate success and also recognize / reward counterparts supporting our strategy. On recognizing others, we started publishing best practices from other teams in our e-VMS (which covered global audience) – and that helped a lot on synergy and cross-functional collaboration.

Close interaction with a Coach: Trevor and I had monthly calls to discuss the progress of the implementation. Two materials that helped tremendously in that journey were “Driving Execution” and “Team Development”. If you want to learn more about the topic or the material, you can reach out to Trevor and get access the toolkit available in the subscriber area.

This was the last post on Belief-Dream-Plan-Execute. Hope you have enjoyed.