By Dawn Drozd
Aug. 29, 2013
If you start a large project, how long does it typically take to get it done? Are you the type that keeps your nose to the grind stone everyday or are you like most of the population that seems to attack projects in “fits and starts” only to find that it just never gets done?
Break the cycle of “not enough time”
Coaching business owners over the past decade, I’ve found that most are challenged to stay on task from the beginning to end of a project. It’s partly due to the way that business owners are wired. Most entrepreneurs have “quick start” personality types and get bored by follow-through. Add the stressors of running a business - constant interruptions, volume of work, employee and customer issues - and you understand how those big, game-changing projects just never get done.
The problem is that not completing these important projects can mean decreased revenues, poor productivity, and ultimately negative bottom lines. Finding a solution to make them happen is critical. Fortunately, there’s an easy and practical method - our five step action planning and accountability process.
90-day action planning and accountability exercise
Step One: Identify your priorities over the next 90 days. The 90-day period works because it’s long enough to reap results and short enough to maintain focus and momentum. To determine the priorities, meet with key managers to review your goals for the time period and the resources you have to complete the projects.
I recommend limiting yourself to 7 to 10 projects, no more. Include a mix of large and small projects - you’ll enjoy quick wins from the small projects that will give you and your team motivation to knock out the larger ones. -¨
As an example, if you want to increase sales, you might plan a project to create a direct mail postcard campaign targeting a new market segment.
Once you’ve determined the projects, it’s time to add SMART goals to support each one. For the direct mail postcard campaign project I just mentioned, you might create a SMART goal to receive 50 prospect phone calls as a result. This gives your project a measurable business result.
Step Two: Once you’ve identified the projects, create a “to-do” list of action steps for each project. This allows you to break a large project into bite-sized pieces and makes it much easier to predict the likelihood of completing it by the deadline.
Step Three: Assign dates for each action item on the list, starting with the completion date and working backward.
Step Four: Meet with those who will be involved in each particular project and determine who will follow through with each step.
Step Five: Of course, the key is in the execution, so it is critical to hold accountability meetings weekly to ensure everyone is following through on their action items. These meetings should take less than 30 minutes and simply give the opportunity to identify problems that may need addressing.
When my clients put this five-step process of action planning and accountability in place, they are always astounded by the amount of important projects they get done each quarter. The result? They enjoy bottom-line benefits.
Dawn Drozd is CEO of ClearVision Business Coaching and one of the Top 150 coaches in the world. Her new book, “The Success Code,” out Fall 2013, reveals how more than 50 business owners not only survived, but thrived during the recession. Contact her at [email protected].