When budgets for professional development programs and company-wide coaching are shrinking, how can you do more with less and empower your people (and yourself) to make better decisions?
As any leader knows, the goalposts are constantly moving, and what ‘good’ looks like today might be completely redundant tomorrow.
Eighty-five percent of business leaders have suffered from decision distress – regretting, feeling guilt about or questioning a decision they made – in the past year. This is partially driven by the masses of data leaders now have at their disposal, which, somewhat paradoxically, is making decision-making harder.
There’s a simple framework that can give you clarity on making impactful decisions and prioritizing what’s important in your business at every level.
Many of the leaders and organizations I work with come to me feeling overwhelmed. They need to make decisions and set strategies for the coming weeks and months, but can’t work out how to prioritize what’s important. The wheels are spinning and everyone is doing busy work, but not actually getting anywhere.
As one entrepreneur told me: “As the founder of a fast-growing business, I was constantly reactive and working in the business and not on the business.”
Sound familiar? The good news is, there’s a simple framework that can give you clarity on making impactful decisions and prioritizing what’s important in your business at every level. It can be applied to any conversation, meeting, policy or project, by any person in the organization.
Have you ever used the Ctrl/Alt/Delete shortcut on a computer keyboard to reboot your system? This shortcut uses a similar framework: Keep/Delete/Create.
Here are the three questions you need to ask of every business process and interaction.
Keep: First, ask yourself: What should we keep?
Look around your organization with open eyes and explore what’s working well. It might be a process that’s helping with efficiency, a type of interaction or meeting that employees are finding useful or a project that’s thriving. Get your people involved – ask them to share what’s working well, what they’re proud of and what feels strong.
Try to keep an open mind. Something that might sound small and insignificant can have a big impact. For example, one leader I spoke to recently said they’d completely changed their business by implementing a weekly chat with their regional managers that wasn’t about reporting on KPIs, but a simple check-in on their wellbeing. The conversation created strong relationships and lines of communication and led to many revelations, lessons and ideas that might not otherwise have been shared.
This is an opportunity for you to find out what to keep. The things that are working well could be further explored across other teams and projects.
Delete: Next, it’s time to clear out what’s not working. What can you delete?
Every organization will have some processes, projects and priorities that no longer make sense, but are so ingrained in the culture that they’re never questioned.
Again, go back to your people. What do they wish they could do without? Perhaps it’s a system of reporting that’s laborious and no longer relevant. Or a regular meeting that doesn’t serve a purpose. What can you cut out so that people are making the best use of their time?
You might need to have a thick skin on this one, especially if you’re a leader with passion projects and ideas you struggle to view objectively.
Or, you might be surprised to find some of your best people are on the verge of leaving, due to overwhelm, burnout or a work expectation that feels impossible. Now is the time to find out, so that you can delete what’s wrong and focus on what’s next.
Create: Now that you’ve got the data, it’s time to work out what you want to create – what are the priorities, and where should energy be spent?
This will come down to your specific priorities, but for most CEOs, the big three considerations are:
1 – Consistent returns to shareholders and investors
2 – Managing risk for the business and brand
3 – Building high-performing teams
Consider the long game. What can you create, and how will it support short and medium-term business priorities along the way?
For example, do you want to shift the emphasis toward a culture where every team member considers themselves a ‘culture champion’, taking accountability for results and culture? Or encourage high-level personal ownership across the business so everyone is on board with the most important priorities?
It sounds simple, but that’s the point. It can be applied to any context.
Or you may look at creating a strong internal culture of communication, by developing a new way for people to engage. For example, Microsoft hosts an annual OneWeek event, bringing employees together to share ideas, collaborate and align on company goals. Could you create something similar to keep employees informed, engaged and motivated?
Focus your energy on making decisions that will create the biggest positive impact on the health of your people and therefore your business.
Ask: What to keep, what to delete and what to create?
Analyze: The information you’ve gathered.
Act: On what’s been uncovered and put it to good use.
It sounds simple, but that’s the point. It can be applied to any context – whether it’s a meeting format, a project or a new business revenue stream.
It’s time to get clear on what’s important for the year ahead.
Embedding this kind of framework can help build systemic cultural change within your organization and empower your people to analyze the ‘business as usual’ mindset every day. Some of your people will be better at this compared to others, based on their individual operating systems and motivators, so leverage and optimize this valuable resource.
This framework is a free yet invaluable alternative to often costly professional development courses offered by external suppliers.
What could you delete and what could you do more of to set yourself up for success in 2024? It’s time to get clear on what’s important for the year ahead.
Contributor Collective Member
Danielle Dobson is the Founder of Code Conversations and the author of ‘Breaking the Gender Code’. She supports leaders in business, HR, DE&I and wellbeing as an advisor to help them attract, engage and develop talented people. Her work is empowering leadership at the individual level to shift leaders out of burnout and decision fatigue in times of challenge and change. Discover more at https://www.codeconversations.com.au/