Courtesy People Spark Consulting

Feb 08, 2023

Get your agribusiness ready for whatever 2023 brings

Start by clarifying your goals (more than you think) to keep your teams focused.

Ahh, ‘tis the season for “New Year, New You,” resolutions, and all the other promises we make as we start the new year. What are some of the goals you’ve set for the year? No, really – what are the goals you have for your business this year?

Now I challenge you to go back and really look at them. Once you’ve done that, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it clear what will need to happen for me to say we’ve been successful?
  • How clearly do my team members know the role they play in achieving these goals?

Over the last several years of working with agribusiness leaders, I’ve seen patterns of behavior emerge when it comes to goals. There are some easy ways you can adjust your path now to set your year up to be successful.

#1: If goals have been defined at all, they are not specific enough.

What I often see is that in our rush-rush-rush to close the books of the previous year, to start the year with good footing, we often end up with goals that look more like spaghetti noodles thrown up against a wall. How does a 10% revenue increase year-over-year sound? Sure – let's go with that. Maybe we adjust our net income goal to be up 3% from last year. That seems reasonable.

While it may be a good start, these goals don’t budge behavior below the surface – where the action and results happen.

Think about it for a moment: Do you know WHAT you need to do to increase revenue by 10%? Or to increase net income by 3%? Dig in here!

Just last week I was working with a client on their goals for the new year. Net sales increase is the overall result they’re after for the new year, yet a goal just stopping at net sales doesn’t say anything to the rest of the team about WHAT they need to do in order to achieve it. During the discussion, I pressed and asked more questions about the types of behavior they need to see in each level of their organization.

Getting this specific isn’t being nit-picky – it's setting a clear target for you and your team.

This leads me to the second pattern I’ve seen emerge about goals:

#2: Define what success looks like for your team, AND the behaviors they need to show to get there.

In this ag retailer’s case, there were a few things that were critical for team members to do that will support the increase in net sales this year: greeting customers by name and with a smile, intentionally connecting with customers while in store aisles, and ensuring that there are no open holes on shelves.

Here’s just one reason behind it going below the surface to define these behaviors:

Back in a 2018 study from Ceridian, 44% of workers either didn’t think they made an impact, or didn’t understand what impact their roles made on the business. Taking it a step further, there was a significant linkage between those who understood the goals of the business and how their roles contributed to it, to whether they chose to stay with their employer. I would venture to argue this statistic likely hasn’t improved since this study based on interviews and interactions we have with clients every day.

Email People Spark Question PIXABAY
Courtesy Pixabay

There are many other studies showing similar linkages as well (email me – I'm happy to share more!).

So, if we know that this clarity can improve employee retention – at a time when we ALL want to have good employee retention – why isn’t it happening?!

While I can’t answer for individuals, I can speak for myself and for the clients I work with – we are often so close to the information, the intricacies of our business, and all the details, that it can be difficult to remember that we need to make those links for our team. More specifically, we need to show them the 1-2 things they can do that can have the biggest impact on the business’s success.

So, what can you do today?

Your Assignment (should you choose to accept it) … Define the behaviors AND check for understanding.

What’s your goal this year? Increase net sales by 5%? Let’s start there.

For your managers or supervisors, what are the one to two things most critical for them to do that will help impact net sales? Is it:

  • All schedules are posted at least a week in advance, and we have coverage for gaps in the schedule more than 24 hours in advance?
  • Closing out drawers properly every day and making deposits every day/week?
  • Planning events to bring more awareness and traffic to your business?
  • Purposefully work with and coach team members in their role every day?

Start there and keep getting specific. In the next quarter, what needs to happen in order to make this happen? How will success be measured (or, said another way, how will you both know they’ve been successful?)?

Once you’ve defined it for your managers and supervisors, take it a step further. Is it:

  • Each customer gets a personal greeting when they enter the store (if they are a regular customer)?
  • If our associates don’t know an answer to a customer question, we either bring in another team member to assist, or get information to personally follow back up with the customer by phone within 24 hours?

By doing this, you’re setting the overall goal – increasing net sales by 5% - and breaking it down into the most important things your team can do to impact it. This is how you get closer to “everyone rowing in the same direction” on your team. It becomes clearer for your team to know what’s expected of them, and it’s clearer for your leaders how their own success will be measured – especially when it’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day firefighting.

Let’s start this year with some great momentum! I’d love to hear what adjustments you’ve made to you and your team’s goals – email me at [email protected] and share your progress!

Erin Mies

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