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Planning and executing are two very different skills and you as a manager are expected to master both. If you are very good at drawing plans but you have problems executing them, this post might help you realize executing is not as hard as you think it is.

Start by knowing your team. Employees who feel their managers don’t know them are usually the ones that leave the job first. They don’t feel motivated and eventually loose any will to stay there and get things done and it all starts with their manager: if you don’t know them, if you are not close to them, how can you motivate them?

Planning is your friend, just not your best friend. Having a plan can help you prioritize and put some order to actions to come. Just don’t over-do it. Even the best plan fails if you don’t execute properly. Think that whatever you plan is, it needs to become actionable. Ask yourself: if you were looking at the plan from their perspective, would you feel like acting on it?

Define a rhythm: As drummers did in galleys for rowers, you need to set an operational rhythm for your team. Set the pace and make it constant for them, but only do so after understand how they operate as a team. You can’t make them dance to a tune they don’t know if you don’t show them first.

Action implies movement. Movement means change. Redundant, I know, so here’s a question for you: how many actions you set up for your team require them to switch from one state to another one, as in “stop sitting around and start doing things”? If your “actions” don’t require them to actually DO something, you need to review them.

Define each action clearly and explain the desired outcome. As actions imply change, you need to show them, explain them what that change you’re looking for looks like. Just draw a line in a whiteboard, write “status quo” on one side, and “future state” on the other side and show them how it looks. Make it as graphic and as simple as you can.

Don’t cluster actions, but rather connect them. Even if you need them to do one after the other one or more than 2 at the same time, be very clear on the why and how. Explain that there’s a rhythm for a reason and show them how one action leads to another one. Cause and consequence right?

Reinforce positive outcomes. It doesn’t mean you need to give an award to everyone who does a simple thing right, but you do want to them engaged and follow your rhythm. Run with them, pick them up when they slow down, cheer them when they get it right and they’ll respond better and faster.

Action means movement. Action means change. Humans can act and change and the results are usually amazing but action only happens after there’s some stimulus and that’s where you as a manager come in.


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