Moving the Needle

You’ve seen it at ball games and on TV shows. The noise meter. Someone’s trying to get the crowd going to cheer on the home team or to select a contestant. So the noise meter is rolled out. The louder and more enthusiast the crowd gets, the more the needle moves towards the “frenzy” side of the meter. It’s fun. It’s loud. It’s designed to motivate the team to do more, score another run, to get everyone on the same page.

I think this concept is missing in many (most) companies. No, I’m not advocating screaming employees whipped up into a chaotic volume riot. I’m talking about enthusiasm about a shared vision and goals.

A lot of strategic planning can be, well, boring for most employees. Mostly because they are never told the “why” behind the decisions. The senior executives make a plan, may or may not communicate the plan to everyone, and then the staff is left to figure out what is happening and what they should be doing to execute the plan.

How different would it be if the senior executives spent intentional time in finding ways to really get the staff behind their vision? I’m not talking about shallow meetings meant to gin up the employees. I’m talking about meetings where the staff is given an honest assessment of where the company is and where it can go. A meeting where the vision will not be realized without the innovation, creativity, energy, hard work of the staff. But it doesn’t stop there.

As a manager, you have the responsibility to keep the vision alive in your staff. It is your job to keep momentum rolling. How?

* Keep the goals in front of your staff all the time. Keep their eyes on the target.
* Share the numbers. There is a story behind the numbers and make sure your team knows that story and how they can and will impact them in a positive way.
* Stretch them. Don’t be afraid to look into the future and challenge your team to do more than they may (at the time) believe they can achieve.
* Encourage them all along the way. Praise in public. Counsel in private.

Personal note: about 15 months ago, I collaborated with a colleague where we put a plan in place to capture more lending opportunities coming in via our website. We started up an eServices division in my department with 2 carefully chosen team players. We trained them and asked them to not only to do the work, but to analyze their work to help us continually find ways to improve this delivery channel. Their manager and I committed ourselves to encourage their progress along the way. The results?

* Loans outstanding (what is on our books) grew from just over $2 million to $12.6 (ending August).
* We’ve grown $6.9 million just since January.
* We are seeing around $1.4 million/month in loan production.
* Our loan quality is outstanding. Our loan servicing department reports that we rarely have any unresolved issues.

The other day, I challenged this team to stretch to a new goal – $1 million/month for EACH of them. I believe they can do it! I told them I believe they could do it. Guess what? They also believe they can do it. We talked about what it would take to get there. I committed to them what I would do to help get them there. They committed to me that they would do what they needed to do to get there. We don’t know when this will happen, but there WILL be a day when they each hit that $1 million mark in 1 month. It will be the happy dance day!

Enthusiasm fueling a clear vision that is clearly defined makes work fun, exciting, a bit scary, and meaningful. As a manager, you can keep moving that needle as you help keep your team focused and enthused about growing and developing and achieving.

Move that needle!

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