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An indispensable management guide to making sure that the long-term strategies and day-to-day goals a company sets are successfully executed, written by the coauthor of the national bestseller It’s Not the Big That Eat the Small . . . It’s the Fast That Eat the Slow. Good managers at every level recognize the importance of strategic planning and setting concrete goals for their employees. But even the best among them often fail to implement and support the crucial processes that turn well-laid plans into visible successes. Studies show that over the last fifty years, a whopping 83 percent of corporate slowdowns were attributable not to outside economic forces but to the lack of vigilant follow-through within the company itself. In IT'S NOT WHAT YOU SAY...IT'S WHAT YOU DO, Laurence Haughton identifies the missteps that allow initiatives to fall through the cracks and explains how to close the gap between what a company sets out to do and what actually happens. Drawing on interviews with top-level executives from such companies as IKEA, the Wall Street Journal,Charles Schwab, Time Warner, Watson Wyatt, Pella Corp., and scores of others both large and small, he presents the essential strategies for ensuring the success of innovations and change, including: • Get more “buy-in” from employees on new initiatives• Balance control with coordination to make your team more effective• Make sure that expectations are crystal clear• Maintain a sense of urgency and momentum on a daily basisFilled with real-life examples of how effective follow-through stems the waste of resources, improves productivity, and prevents costly mistakes, IT'S NOT WHAT YOU SAY...IT'S WHAT YOU DO gives managers up and down the corporation or company the tools they need to eliminate failure resulting from lack of follow-through and achieve their goals.
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In average companies, only about half of what actually gets decided is ever followed through on. The rest of the items just fall through the cracks and get ignored, usually inadvertently. A number of studies have shown that over the last fifty years, 83percent of all corporate slowdowns were attributable not to external economic forces but to the lack of follow-through within the organization itself. Therefore, to improve your performance, spend less time worrying about finding the best strategy to use and more time closing the gap between what you say you want to do and what you actually end up doing.
To be more specific, there are four key building blocks you can use to close the credibility gap between what you say and what you do:
“Over the last decade, business has tried every quick fix and crafty financial maneuver to get a leg up on the unrelenting competition. None of it has had sufficient staying power and a lot has landed our businesses（and more than a few executives）in trouble. Now it's time to forgo all the exotic answers and get back to basics. What makes or breaks your company is your ability to get everyone at every level following through."
“Becoming a winner, a loser, a climber or a tumbler in any industry is not the result of finding（or failing to find）the perfect strategy for your organization. What makes or breaks a company's performance is its grasp over management's most basic mission—to make sure everyone at every level follows through.”
Every executive starts out with good intentions, but the pressure of having too much to do often means they end up not conveying their expectations with absolute clarity. It's little wonder, then, that people head off in different directions.
To avoid this:
1. Turn vague expectations into clear, specific targets people can work towards.
2. Empathize with your people and help them connect the dots.
3. Provide tactics with your instructions that will help people succeed.
Nothing frustrates workers more than corporate gobbledygook—when a boss gives them vague, generalized directives and cliches that can be interpreted in a hundred different ways. If a subordinate doesn't understand exactly what their boss wants, their most likely course of action will be to let that item fall through the cracks in the hope it won't get raised again.
The key to avoiding this is to be clear and concise right at the outset so there is no question in anyone's mind what the objective is. How do you do this?
1. Always set goals or objectives that are SMART—that is, that are specific, measurable, accountable, realistic and time-bound. Every time you set a goal, give a succinct and crisp definition of what success will look like. Clarify your expectations in your own mind first, engage people in a two-way conversation and then listen to the feedback you get to make certain they're on the same page as you. Never ask anyone to follow through on something you don't understand clearly yourself.
2. Communicate more effectively—by dividing big ideas into small, palatable bites. Break complex goals down into manageable steps everyone can comprehend. Get feedback to ensure your people know what you mean. Let everyone know the precise steps you're asking them to make, and give a sense of how each of those actions will impact on the overall team performance.
3. If you're given fuzzy or ambiguous expectations, keep discussing and negotiating with your boss—until you have a crystal clear picture of what is expected. Don't just agree to do something vague to get your boss out of your office. Realize they have lots of pressure coming from all sorts of directions. Get your boss engaged and listen to what he or she says until you can completely clarify their expectations in fine detail. To assist you in doing this:
Prepare beforehand with some good leading questions.
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