Our consulting team met in anticipation of our 30th anniversary in working with over 800 client organizations in the public and private sector. Our focus was to articulate 30 years of lessons learned among all our work in our most successful client organizations. Following are the Leadership Plus Best Practices which were most predictive of organizational effectiveness.
- Comprehensive Strategic Plan
Few organizations have sustained success without establishing the basic tenets of Focus, Consistency and Accountability into their organization. The planning process allows the organization to identify goals for success, helps solve problems and builds trust and rapport. A plan identifies the tasks that need to be completed on a consistent basis in order to reach its goals and establishes the accountability process to keep the plan active.
- Competent and Engaged Board
Whether a board is a fiduciary board or an advisory board to the organization’s leader, the benefit of a well selected board that is truly engaged in the organization’s success brings boundless experience, objective viewpoints and committed mentoring to the organization. It can be lonely at the top of an organization and having the ear of an experienced group of people is a great advantage to a leader in reaching success.
- Performance Measures for Success
Measuring an organization’s success in reaching its goals is dependent on defining its ability to clearly establish exactly what success means. Having well defined targets to measure performance in the core business areas that focus on mission, people, money, process and growth take the guesswork out of the mix. The defined performance measures build an understanding and rigor that prove beneficial for all involved.
- Effective Cash Flow Management
Cash is king and understanding the impact of cash flow is vital to every organization’s success and failure. Learning about and monitoring cash flow isn’t luck, but an established process with well-developed reports that accurately show and forecast cash flow. Those reports instill a fiscal understanding and discipline that can improve the decision making process for the organization.
- Strong Internal Financial Controls
A key component to any organization’s success is establishing very strong internal financial processes and controls. Having strong financial controls preserves cash, reduces costs, provides better decision making tools and minimizes fraud and mismanagement.
- Clean Audit with No Findings and Adjustments
Successful organizations value an objective view of its operations. The objective views validate the investment of learning and applying recognized best practices and provide regular exposure to improving. Since finances and financial management are so key to an organization’s success, achieving a clean audit, defined as one with no findings and adjustments, rewards and reinforces the benefits of the financial acumen and rigor that have been invested in the organization.
- Alignment of People with organization goals
SLA’s experience agrees with research that organizations that have internal alignment with goals are much more successful. The process of building consensus starts with the development of a strategic plan, but continues through consistent review of the goals, celebrating the achievement of the goals and communicating and reinforcing the work needed to achieve the goals. Alignment fosters continuous dialogue throughout the organization and builds trust, creativity and a sense of community.
- Individual Goal Setting and Performance Appraisal Process
Taking the process of focus, consistency and accountability to each member of an organization reinforces the impact of consensus, alignment of goals, fosters engagement and builds trust. Members of an organization want to feel as though they play an important part in its success. Having individual goals that are aligned with the organization’s goals can go a long way to meeting the person’s need and helping the organization achieve success.
- Incentives for High Performances
Having well defined goals and clear performance measures are key practices to an organization’s success. Providing incentives rewards and recognizes those who understand the importance of meeting and exceeding the goals and performance measures. It also carries the responsibility of those creating the incentives to understand that the high performance can include maintaining a high level of consistency in a role as well as achieving a low cost or high growth goal.
- Job Descriptions with Clear Expectations
Many organizations use job descriptions as a hiring tool and then put them away until the next hiring situation. Successful organizations use job descriptions in the hiring process and they also use them as a basis for performance evaluations, professional development and succession planning. Job descriptions that are current with the clear expectation of that position’s roles and responsibilities are practices that provide valuable, ongoing tools to a person’s success within an organization.
- Clear Personnel Policies
While it’s not practical to write a policy that covers every personnel issue that can arise within an organization, there are many policies that are mandated by a constant flow of new and changing government regulations. Additionally, specific practices within an organization as it carries out its mission can create unique practices or policies. Having clear and current written personnel policies that are reviewed and distributed on a regular basis provides a resource that helps alignment, builds trust and consensus and reinforces the organization’s culture.