5 Ways to Manage Execution During Uncertain Times

As nations around the globe cope with a growing pandemic, organizations are in the midst of a very uncertain period. Everywhere we turn, the media is filled with up-to-the-minute news on the latest developments.

The whirlwind of news and information seems constant. While immediate focus lies with team members, families, and surrounding communities, many now settle back into work and ask, “Now what?”

“How will this impact my industry? How will this impact my organization and its people? How will this impact the goals that we set for the year?”

Trust us, we wish we could answer every question you have. Perhaps another day. Over the years we have learned tips on how to manage during uncertain times. These tips come from hundreds of organizations like yours.

A global pandemic is a foreign concept for most. Now is a critical time to learn how others have maintained and improved strategy execution efforts in challenging times. Uncertainty may come during a reduction in funding, organizational downsizing, a leadership turnover, or more. Any time of uncertainty offers an opportunity to hit the reset button and regroup for the rest of the year.

1. Identify the Critical Initiatives

If your organization has structured your plan for execution, it should be filled with leading indicators on the initiatives that are starting to work as hoped.

Effective organizations have a series of leading and lagging indicators that track the health of their business.

The “leading” indicators are the more-frequent, activity-based numbers within your plan. They identify whether an initiative is tracking towards completion. Examples include percent complete on a project, pipeline generated in sales, in-person meetings for customer engagement, qualified leads for marketing, etc..

The “lagging” indicators are the key performance indicators (KPIs) for the business. These are often most discussed amongst the organization. Examples include revenue, retention, etc..

With a plan structured around these ideas, and the context to back up the data, review your plan to understand what’s working. While it might be earlier than normal, now may be the opportunity to focus efforts on the areas paying dividends.

2. Stop working on the fluff

With the extra understanding of which initiatives are critical from leading and lagging indicators, determine plan focus. This focus helps decide which items to keep and which to cancel. Quitting often has a negative tone, but now may be an opportunity to make ‘quit’ a good word.

When evaluating focus, leverage an Eisenhower box to determine the balance between urgency and importance. Organizations regularly incorporate many more ideas and initiatives than bandwidth permits.

Are their initiatives that fall in the not urgent and not important category? Or even Urgent but Not Important?

Cancel them to work on the initiatives that will have a larger upside. This will also free up bandwidth for those initiatives that are working.

3. Lean into your Mission & Vision

When times are uncertain, mission-based organizations are normally the ones that excel. Why is that?

Often, it’s because the individuals doing the work truly care and believe in their work. They aren’t doing it for a paycheck, or to hit targets, but because they believe in the reason why the work is important.

Unfortunately, most employees can’t identify a key organizational strategy. These strategies should be a direct reflection of their Mission & Vision.

When you revisit your plan and results, ensure the organization understands why the results are important. Additionally, explain how it helps the organization live its mission and vision.

4. Over Communicate

Too often organizations spend effort in the planning phase, only to fail in execution due to a dip in excitement down the road. In many cases, the excitement waned because communication failed.

It either didn’t happen at all or completely missed the mark.

Continuous communication is key to making the priorities part of your culture. If you haven’t already, have a conversation with the larger audience about strategic planning and the importance of the initiatives. In these conversations, tailor for resonance to ensure it’s a well-received dialogue and not just a monologue. And throughout the message, don’t forget the why behind the what.

In an environment where 50-100% of your workforce may be remote, communication now is more key than ever.

5. Structure your plan for success

While this is normally a recommendation for the planning process, optimizing your plan will enable quick adjustments throughout the remainder of the year.

If you haven’t already, ensure your plan is properly built with quantitative outcomes, defined accountabilities, firm due dates, a cadence of accountability, and alignment.

A proper structure will help identify key initiatives throughout the year. This proper structure will enable Steps 1-3 to play out continuously throughout the year.

Whether your “uncertain time” is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or another unforeseen circumstance, we stand by to help you navigate uncharted waters. Outside of our efforts to help your business succeed, we wish the best to your team, families, and community.

About AchieveIt

AchieveIt is the platform that large organizations use to get their biggest, most important initiatives out of the boardroom and into reality. Too many great ideas never quite make it across the finish line, because there’s no real way to keep everyone on course and keep everything on track. What does it take to actually guide these initiatives all the way through to completion? You’ve got to:

  1. Get everything in view – so you can see what’s happening with every initiative, at every level, from the enterprise to the individual, in real time.
  2. Get everyone engaged – with an easy-to-use platform that connects your organization from the executive leadership to the project teams, keeping everyone accountable and on the same page.
  3. Get every possible advantage – not only because you have the premier platform in this space, but because you can draw on the experience and best practices of our execution experts.

That’s why everyone from global corporations, to regional healthcare systems, to federal agencies have turned to AchieveIt for their Integrated Plan Management. Let’s actually do this.

Ready to improve your plan execution?

Organizations of all types leverage AchieveIt to manage, execute, and connect their most important initiatives. Replace manual processes & siloed systems with interconnected plans in a single, automated platform.


Meet the Author  Jonathan Morgan

Jonathan Morgan is the VP of Revenue Operations and Head of Marketing at AchieveIt. Jonathan has spent time in roles across strategy consulting, sales, customer engagement, marketing, and operations, enabling a full picture view of strategy & strategy execution. His generalist background encourages a full picture view of strategic planning & strategy execution. Jonathan graduated from Georgia Tech and received his MBA from the University of Florida.

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