The end of the year is often thought as the best time to reflect and refresh big-picture thinking. But, strategic business leaders will agree that there’s no best time for planning since the process is an ongoing one. A good plan constantly responds to changing conditions and circumstances. A great plan not only provides a blueprint for the direction, focus, and organization needed to stay on task, but it also evaluates whether our goals (and the goals of our employees) are properly aligned.
Enter the Matrix.
There’s one framing principle that’s been part and parcel of many a planning solution since 1953—the “Eisenhower Matrix” (you may be familiar with Stephen Covey’s popularization of the concept in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People). Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, was no stranger to planning and prioritizing tasks. He utilized his matrix throughout his career as a general in the United States Army, an Allied Forces Supreme Commander during World War II, and as NATO’s first supreme commander. 64 years later, Eisenhower’s process continues to produce meaningful results, prioritizing tasks by urgency and importance.
In terms of priority, every employee's goals should be aligned with your leadership’s overall strategy—not just their manager's success. That is, their goals should always contribute to your organization’s bottom line. Often times, however, this is not the case due to breakdowns in communication, faulty prioritization and personal agendas.
Once internalized effectively, however, the Eisenhower Matrix can aid in rationalizing priority conflicts which, in turn, leads to proper time valorization. Start planning like you mean it by answering these six questions:
1) What needs to be accomplished?
2) Why does it need to be done? (How does it contribute to the overall mission?)
3) When does it need to be accomplished?
4) Where are we now in relation to this goal?
5) Who will be involved in accomplishing it?
6) How will it be accomplished? (specific steps, activities, and resources)
These questions may seem like no-brainers. But, without them, you or your team might not be creating a clear plan of action. If you want to ensure your goals and outcomes are being measured effectively, communicate this at your next meeting so your team knows what’s expected of them. Every great idea must start with a plan, but dividing up tasks by urgency and importance also acts as a subtle reminder for your team to keep leadership goals at the forefront of their mind.