Get More Team Members Working “on” the Business

Get more team members working “on” the business

A common gripe I hear from leaders is that they don’t spend enough time doing one critical thing that will accelerate company growth – working “on” the business. 

Most leaders excel at working “in” the business. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be in business for long. However, many find they cannot devote enough time working “on” the company to advance their organization.

How about you? How much time do you spend working “on” your business? 80%, 50%, or maybe closer to 20%?

Strategic Planning

Working “on” vs. “in,” can be challenging.  Some weeks I am unable to focus on working “on” the business due to the demands of our business. Then other times I spend significant time working “on” the business and watch the organization’s flywheel accelerate at an unprecedented rate. 

As I’ve worked with thousands of leaders, I discovered a way to ensure I’m always working “on” the business not only for me (the leader) but for my entire team–every department and team member. What was the discovery? 

Department Plans

Strategic Planning is critical to every organization.  But high growth companies are disciplined to consistent Department Planning – what a department is going to get done–in the next sprint–to help the company achieve its goals and vision. They understand it is fundamental to accelerating growth and have experienced the multiplier effect of getting everyone in the organization to allocate time to work “on” the business to accelerate the organization forward.

The Leadership Team first defines the Strategic and Financial Vision, Talent Vision, and Leadership Talent Plan.  Then the department leader builds out their Department Plan, which cascades Talent Planning—from the leadership team—to the entire organization. It focuses each team member to work toward the vision and doing what they can–apart from working “in” the business–to move the organization forward and achieve the vision.

There are 4 components of a Department Plan:

1. Financial Vision: With the company vision in place, now each department will create its own Financial Vision. Your department’s Financial Vision will include 3-4 metrics–with goals to the end of the Vision for each–that you will monitor to ensure your Department Plan is working.

      In my previous role, I led the Sales and Marketing Department. A metric we monitored in our department’s Financial Vision was our closing rate. We documented our current closing rate (30%) and put a goal (50%) for what we needed it to be by the end of the vision to achieve it – putting goals at the end of your metrics creates your Financial Vision.

      2. ActON Plans: The second item is the action plans your department will complete to work “on” the business. We call these ActON plans. They turn your strategy into action.  They are things your department will complete to achieve the company sprint goals. So, using the example above, one ActON Plan in our Sales & Marketing Department to improve our close rate was to enhance our handoff process from marketing to sales.

      Every team member in the department should have at least one ActON plan–per sprint–they are responsible for.

      3. Current Organizational StructureA visual of your department hierarchy. This visual can include each person’s behavioral science assessments and communication dos and don’ts, which enables your team to have greater role clarity.

      4. Talent Plan: You will build the Department’s Talent Plan using the following resources: (1) The behavioral science assessments of your team members, (2) using the 9-Box to visualize performance vs. potential of each department member, and (3) their goals and dreams.

      How to create your Department Plan:

      Leadership Team first presents the company’s strategy & talent plan to the entire organization.  Then each department leader schedules 2 meetings to begin developing their Department Plan:

      • To create the Department Financial Vision
      • To set Department ActON plans

      Next, the department leader schedules a 1:1 meeting with each team member to have a candid conversation around the following:

      • Review their behavioral science results – where can their style and strengths bring the most significant value to the organization and themselves
      • Discuss their career goals and aspirations
      • Discuss and document their top 2-3 development goals

      Then the department leader collaborates with the organization leader to shape and polish the Department Organizational Structure and Talent Plan based on the findings of the 1:1 meetings. Finally, each department leader presents their Department Plan back to the leadership team to gain feedback and finalize.

      If you’re the leader of an organization, guide each of your direct reports in whatever capacity they need to development and execute the four components of a Department Plan.

      And always remember, those who Talent Plan — Profit!

      Steve Van Remortel is Founder/CEO of MyTalentPlanner, Chief Strategist & Talent Advisor at Stop the Vanilla, LLC, is a speaker, trainer, consultant, podcaster, and author of the books: Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream and Stop the Vanilla in your Career and Life.