One of the things new managers wrestle with most is finding a clear sense of focus. It’s easy to get involved in tedious tasks and take on more projects than you can handle. Inevitably that leads to getting lost in the weeds, and dragging your team through the muck.
Things get even more muddled when the whole company loses track of the big picture. In an environment of inconsistency and constant change comes conflict and confusion for employees at all levels, which can cause an organization to implode.
The top establishments attract and nurture leaders who know how to maintain perspective with clear, consistent focus. For example, in a retail business like Tractor Supply, where happy customers lead to healthy sales, we know that the principles of good customer service will always drive sales success. That is a key area of focus that leaders must keep top of mind and communicate regularly to move the company forward in a productive way.
Here are a few paths to finding leadership focus:
Post your priorities: Analyze your leadership time by pinpointing the top three priorities that drive success in your business unit. Write them down, post them where you’ll see them and make them part of your everyday team conversations. Keeping these touch points front-and-center will keep you—and your unit—on track amidst daily requirements. If you see your people losing focus because they have too much on their plate, remember it’s your job to reorganize, regroup and re-focus individuals on those vital priorities.
Get on the same page: You know the core functions of your business better than anybody. Talk to your team about goals and direction so that everyone is starting on the same page and headed in the same direction. But don’t stop there: Discuss direction and goals regularly. Repetition is crucial. Why? The human brain only recalls about 10 percent of what it hears a week later. Repeating the same information may seem like overkill but it’s essential to fostering energized, dedicated teams.
Go back to basics: The best-run businesses and most successful leaders clearly articulate and underscore the organization’s mission and basic value structure. Think of these set standards as the concrete blocks on which the corporate house is built; if they crumble, your house will fall down. The leaders who really accomplish great things talk about these tenets all the time. While more high-level values are important, the basics are the glue that holds everything together.
Share the results: In the retail world, selling is what we do and sales numbers are the measurement of our success. So at Tractor Supply the first topic of the day is always sales—from yesterday’s numbers to the monthly reports. We share sales numbers companywide and encourage healthy competition among stores, districts and regions. No one is confused.
In an increasingly sophisticated business environment, staying focused can be extra difficult. But in the long run creating a clear direction for your team is what it takes to achieve leadership success.