June 2021 Organizational Wellness Challenge – Organizational Priorities
“Cost, schedule, quality…pick two!” Have you ever been asked to make this choice? Or do you pride yourself on being an engaging leader who values the inputs of your staff? Instead of selecting one idea to implement this month, quarter, or year, you embrace all three, four, five, or more. They’re all good ideas, right? Just like we could not possibly compromise on cost, schedule, or quality—all of them are important.
Prioritization is one of the greatest challenges leaders have. Where, when, and how should we focus our time, energy, and resources? A failure to prioritize accompanies a tendency to over-promise and under-deliver. A failure to prioritize often generates frustration and burn-out within teams. Ultimately, a failure to prioritize may just send the unintended message that nothing is important.
At CEEK, we are not immune to such tendencies. Recently, our team has been stretched thin in efforts to serve our clients, build new business, develop new offerings, and demonstrate thought-leadership. We embraced several new initiatives because they were all prompted by great ideas. In spite of good intentions, my colleagues and I have missed deadlines and fallen short of our own high standards, sacrificing cost, quality, and most often, schedule.
Can you relate?
If you desire a culture of accountability and results, effective leaders and teams must set clear and realistic priorities. This month, we challenge you to review if and how you clarify priorities for yourself and the teams you lead. Consider the following steps to clarify priorities and set challenging, realistic expectations for you and the teams you lead.
1. Revisit Strategy and Goals – Often
Did you and your team engage in an inspiring goals setting session at the beginning of the year? After the dust settled, did the resulting strategy, goals, and objectives fade away? If you struggle with where to focus your time and energy, let your mission, vision, and strategy guide you. Review the list of initiatives and activities within the context of your strategy and goals. Determine which activities are most impactful and doable. Apply the four D’s of time management to prioritize what you will Do. And give yourself permission to Delete, Defer, or Delegate good ideas that would otherwise push the constraints of cost, schedule, or quality.
2. Assign and Balance Responsibility
Once you decide on new priority initiatives to advance the business, build a platform of accountability. With your team, determine who has the capability, capacity, and commitment (passion) to lead the initiative. While it is certainly acceptable to assign responsibility for multiple initiatives to any given team member, consider the capacity for each individual and strive to balance responsibilities across the team. And, most important, specify which single initiative should serve as the top priority or responsibility for yourself and others. When in doubt, the top priority should guide decisions regarding the allocation of time and effort.
3. Schedule Your Priorities
Often the strategic priorities for you and your business represent duties beyond typical daily responsibilities. At CEEK, delivery of outstanding services to our clients is our number one priority. While this is good and appropriate, strategic, internally-focused initiatives often fall prey to daily client demands or a perpetual state of urgent response. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, suggests that “the key is not to prioritize what is on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Once you clarify the most important strategic initiative, make sure you and your team block time on your calendars for focused attention on that which is strategic and important. Honor that time. Prioritize it over perceived daily demands that warrant urgent response.
We challenge you as a leader to revisit and clarify organizational priorities this month and beyond. Revisit your priorities on a frequent, recurring basis. Update your strategy and priorities if and when needed. Communicate. Your efforts to simplify and clarify priorities for yourself and your team will enhance focus, promote accountability, and drive results. Remember that one completed priority initiative is better than three, four, or five perpetual initiatives. CEEK a Better Way!