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You Get What You Inspect

4 ways to hit your numbers every month
hitting your goals
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I have always appreciated the inspirational nugget: ‘You get what you inspect, not what you expect.’

If you want to consistently hit a deadline or your sales numbers, you need to inspect more. There are ways to do this without being a helicopter boss. Here are four examples of approaches to hit your short-, medium- and long-term numbers.

1. Establish a Gold Star Program

We all likely remember as we started our careers our supervisor asking us to complete a task. If they were a great boss, they would say: “Come get me when you’re done.” This method accomplished two things: 1) teaching and training, and 2) follow-up to assure the task was correctly completed.

This approach can be used to drive short-term improvements across your chain. Do you wish that coolers across your store portfolio were fully stocked at 1 p.m. on a Friday? Or that a store reset program was fully completed? When was the last time that you set a deadline for executing an important task across your store chain or a specific function and you personally reviewed the results to assure that it had been completed?

In my Walmart days, at least once a week the U.S. CEO initiated a “gold star” task. We then used a combination of operations software, good old-fashioned photos and sales data to prove that request had been completed. You were celebrated as a “gold star” store when the assignment had been accomplished in a specific time period.

Remember, no matter your level in the organization, you have to inspect what you expect.

2. Rankings Work

No one wants to be at the bottom of a list. Ranking your employees’ achievements always gets attention and stands as a strong medium-term profitability improvement approach.

The 80/20 rule is true. Eighty percent of your profitability opportunities are in 20% of your business. Rankings will provide a level of transparency to drive improvements. They should always be personalized with the leader’s name and published for every level of the organization from EVP down.

Choose metrics that if improved can make a material change to your profitability. Follow-up each week congratulating the top performers, encouraging those in the middle and digging in to find out more from the underachievers. Soon you will find no one ever wants to be near the bottom, and your ‘green’ performers can deliver even more. Your follow-up is key.

3. Invest Your Time Upfront

Team leaders can save time in the long run if you invest your time upfront. There is a direct correlation to your investment in time in the early stages of an important project and its success.

If you spend time encouraging and assessing results in the early stages, you invest less time fixing it later on. If a project’s results are better than expected, you also have the ability to accelerate the rollout and achieve your returns quicker than expected.

Remember, you get what you inspect. You are probably thinking: “I don’t have time for all of these reviews.” You do if you recognize you will save time overall and achieve better results if you do.

4. Mix It Up

As executives we tend to have the same reporting and performance management processes each week, month and quarter. Mix it up. Here are a couple of ways to do that:

  • Maintain the meetings you already have on the calendar, but shift the focus. Perhaps you have a new build or remodeling program that is critical to your medium- and long-term growth. Add a discussion of your weekly sales to get the attention of all of the executive team on a profitability opportunity.
  • Create short, stand-up meetings at the beginning and end of the week. Use it to review short-terms results but also to inspect your managers engagement in what matters.

You can most likely afford to focus a little less on what is going well and focus more on what’s not. But mix it up! It will pay dividends in finding new sources of profitability.

Polly Flinn is a former convenience retailer the founder and principal of Flinnstone Strategies. Reach her at polly@flinnstonestrategies.com.

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