There are many articles this time of year about how to improve individual productivity, thereby accelerating company growth over the course of the year. I’ve written my fair share of these articles and, of course, they have their place. But this year, I want to step back and take a different approach, viewing growth from a strategic perspective. I want to speak to you – not about improving productivity on an individual level, but about improving the productivity of the business as a whole. I’m about to share something I have implemented here at Sandler which has jump-started our growth year after year after year. The process is designed for team and company leaders, and it is known as the Six Ps. Let’s look at each of the Ps now.
1. Planning. You need to begin with a plan. This means asking yourself where, specifically, you want the group to be in years one, two, and three. Then you go on to look at where you personally would like to be in each of those years. Tying personal goals into the corporate goals is vitally important. At the team and company level, this is the beginning of a discussion about planning, not the end game. You must ensure the whole team is engaged in the discussion about where the group will be going, because then it becomes “our plan.” As the leader, of course, you’re shaping it, and you make the ultimate calls, but the more you can turn this into a “we” process, as opposed to a “me” process, the better off everyone will be.
2. Positions. Now that you’ve created a plan that lays out where you would like to be over the next one to three years, the next question addresses what type of roles are needed within the organization to make that happen. They may be exactly the same as the roles you have in place right now. Often, though, they’re not. Recently, I added eight additional positions to our organization, in order hit the plan we had created. The plan was the driving force behind how our organizational chart needed to look. That is as it should be.
3. People. You start this one by asking, “Who do I need to fill my organizational chart in order to hit my plan?” Sometimes you’re going to be moving people to different seats on the bus. When you have open positions, you have to either recruit from the outside or assign from within. As the leader, you’re the one who needs to make that decision. The second part of this People step, which is equally important, is all about development. Once you have the right people in place, you will need to ensure they are properly coached and trained to be 100% competent and able to do everything necessary to hit the plan.
4. Process. In this step, you’re making sure to capture, document, and circulate critical best practices. Basically, you’re creating a playbook – something that is essential for any professional team. I’m always shocked when I learn how many organizations do not have a good playbook. If you ask one person in any given department, “Hey, could you tell me the process for A, B, and C?” and that person is unable to respond, it’s typically because that specific process is done by someone else. So what happens if that other person is recruited away by a competitor tomorrow? This, of course, is not an issue when you capture the best practice for each process necessary to execute your plan. Don’t have an overkill exercise where you document 600 processes, but be sure to focus on what’s most essential to the plan.
5. Performetrics. This is another word for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), with the important proviso that these KPIs are customized to the individual team member, and they must measure activities that are totally under his or her control. Note, for instance, that whether a sale closes is not under a salesperson’s control! The total number of conversations with new prospects is under the person’s control. You should be measuring everybody, and I do mean everybody, on the metrics that matter most. This may take some time to set up. Invest the time! Everyone in the organization should have a trackable, personalized KPI driving the plan that you initially set.
6. Passion. As the leader, you need to have passion, rooted in a firm belief that the plan is going to take you to your goals. You also need to be passionate in your conviction that you have done everything humanly possible to identify the right positions, assign the right people, put the right processes in place, and measure people’s behaviors so they know (and you know) whether they’re contributing. Perhaps most important of all, you must have the passion to see it through. This is all about being consistent. This can’t be a program called, “This, Too, Shall Pass.” If your team thinks of it that way, you will not accelerate, and you will not grow. You will end up putting in a lot of hard work with no payoff, so follow-through and a commitment to finish is imperative.
There’s one last thing that I’ll share with you to tie everything together – a bonus technique, if you will: find and hold on to people who are both willing and able. When you’re evaluating your people, make sure that you are always identifying and promoting people who are both capable of doing the job and emotionally invested in actually doing it at a high level. Hiring someone who is unable and willing doesn’t really do anything for you except leave you with a staff who would love to help you, but can’t. And someone who can do the job, but has a sense of entitlement and only performs at a high level when they know you’re watching, isn’t going to get you where you want to go, either. Your goal, as a leader, is to attract, develop, and retain people who are always moving toward acquiring new skills and always moving toward the goal of leveraging those skills in service of the fulfillment of your vision. If you do that, and follow the six steps I have shared with you, you will have a great 2020 – with many profitable years to follow.