Identifying Top Priorities

Employee empowerment is a hot topic today and certainly is important in today’s challenging business environment, but without accountability within the organization, the top executive or owner ends up being the only one held accountable.

I don’t think this is the right way to run a company and hopefully you also agree.

How do you hold your employees accountable? If I came to your company and interviewed a representative number of your employees, what would they say with respect to the following question: What are the company’s top priorities for this year?

I’m sure that most employees want the company to succeed, but I often find that employees have difficulty expressing what the company wants and what they are expected to do to contribute to the success of the company.  This is a symptom of lacking clearly communicated company goals and not establishing employee accountability for reaching the goals.  Employee focus, empowerment and accountability must be established to drive as well as sustain results and company success.

The lack of clearly defined company goals is often a major problem with many companies in this industry.

Recently, during a consulting engagement, the interviewees were asked, “What are the company ‘s top priorities for this year?” and a variety of responses were received:

  •  Increase sales;
  • Don’t know, no idea, never heard of any;
  • Become a Fortune 500 company;
  • Develop processes and procedures;
  • Implement a system of controls;
  • Improve profitability;
  • Improve efficiencies;
  • Get organized;
  • Complete projects;
  • Priorities change extremely often;
  • Nothing in writing; and
  • “I don’t know.”

While many people mentioned some company top priorities, many were different, most responses were not specific and others were just disappointing, such as “I don’t know.” My feeling was that these employees were basing their responses on personal assumptions rather than what they have been told. Essentially, 100 percent of the responses were seen as assumptions.

Additionally, not one employee mentioned any measurable priorities. For example, measurable priorities would be to increase sales or profits by a specific dollar amount or percentage increase.

Ideally, the list of company top priorities should be no longer than four or five priorities.  So, the list is too long as well.

This all means that focus is lacking from employee to employee and throughout the company.

I ask again, what would your employees say to the following question: What are the company’s top priorities for this year?

Please share your thoughts with me.

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