John Popel is a seasoned Chief Commercial Officer, CMO, CRO, CEO, Head of Growth. Marketing, sales, PR and strategy worldwide for 20+ years.
In business, as in medicine, the client’s health mainly depends on the specialist’s competence and experience. Their skills in using the correct diagnostic and detection tools, while choosing the best course of action or treatment, are influential in the overall life and growth of their attending entity.
Here are three crucial tips for any executive manager looking for significant results in the growth and development of a business. You can start to see results after just one month of implementation.
1. Establish your responsibilities and goals with your immediate supervisor.
This may be the CEO, shareholder or the board of directors. When your department is new within the company’s organizational structure – it may be recently formed or a department you are tasked with building – it is essential to establish roles and goals. The company’s other divisions and employees may not completely understand your duties and responsibilities, and they could risk undermining your authority if it is not clear who is in charge of the tasks delegated to your team. Even if your department’s functions fell under the owner, CEO or a shareholder, having the responsibilities transition to another person without the power also transferring could mean certain doom – as in bankruptcy. The best, most recent, example of this is the international clothing brand Forever 21. A skilled manager will prevent such situations by sorting them out upfront.
2. Create a growth team of top managers.
This team is collectively responsible for setting and reaching high-level end goals. They make up a group of people connected by one goal, with some added resources, values and relationships. In terms of size, I recommend teams be limited to the “two-pizzas” rule created by Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO. He postulates that an organization’s internal groups should be small enough to be fed with just two pizzas.
Your Growth Team should include the CEO, CCO/CRO, CMO, HRD, along with the CLO, CFO, CTO and leadership from the quality management department if there is one. Such groups or executive managers connected by a single goal can quickly fix or prevent the problem of a “circular firing squad” that could heavily affect the company’s rapid growth.
As for the team’s motivation, the most common approach I’ve seen is as follows. When the typical high-level year’s financial goal (e.g., NET Revenue x2) is defined, 30%-50% of the company’s profit exceeding the planned goal is divided equally between the growth team’s members as an annual bonus. This scheme means that gains and losses are experienced by the whole team, although owners and shareholders profit no matter the outcome.
The second key component of the team’s successful operation is to synchronize regularly. Once or twice annually, a strategic session with the participation of the growth team’s members should cover high-level financial goals, plus a plan for achieving it – where we are now, where we are going, how we will come to the result, how we can reach our goal, who will assume the high-level tasks and how we are measuring dynamics of their implementation. It is in this meeting that responsibilities, expectations and resources are up for discussion.
Then, the growth team’s members meet in a weekly tactical format that covers weekly tasks and a review of what hasn’t been finished yet, along with any outstanding issues. Such strategy meetings should take just one hour each week or more in the early stages. Be patient and maintain consistency. There will be a natural reduction of the time it takes for such meetings in a month or two.
3. Introduce a SMART culture for processes and establish a set of unconditional principles to which the company and its parties adhere.
Introduce the SMART approach to goal setting; that is, any task should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timable.
The SMART approach includes correspondence; for example, e-mails should have a clear purpose, addressee, terms (if an action or answer is required) and limited input from listening members of the team. For instance, if other members should be aware of the issue without responding, copy – CC – or blind copy – BCC – them on the message. Using SMART for meetings and negotiations should improve the company’s processes within a month after its implementation.
Besides the two-pizzas rule, SMART implies that it is always necessary to prepare an agenda and event summary distributed to team members before the meeting or negotiation. With a meeting organizer keeping the session on track, the number of sessions the team deems ‘senseless’ or ‘wasteful’ will sharply fall and perhaps disappear.
Implementation of SMART culture should not come from the top of the company downward. Like any other corporate culture, the examples come from upper management, supervisors and founders rather than directives. Think of it as a family dynamic. The better those in charge are at modeling ideal behaviors – “Do as I do” over “Do as I say” – the faster they will see those behaviors in their protegees.