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5 Steps to Help Fight Executive Isolation

Steps to help fight executive isolation

The average business executive's agenda is often quite the opposite of open. Between setting the company vision, managing multiple levels of employees, and working with stakeholders outside of the organization, there can seemingly be little to no time in the day for an executive to sit down and dig into the nitty gritty of the company. Sadly, those elements are the ones that can have the largest impact on the company's initiatives and overall success.

Recently, HubSpot published its 2017 State of Inbound report in which it highlighted the fact that executives who set the vision for their companies often have very different perspectives on the state of their business compared to individual contributors tasked with executing on that vision. Below are just a few statistics showcasing the disconnect between today's executives and the systems and processes used by their teams.

  • 31% of C-level executives say there is tight alignment between their marketing and sales teams, but only 17% of managers and individual contributors agree.
  • 32% of C-level executives want to add messaging apps to their marketing strategy, while only 20% of individual contributors in marketing agree.
  • 52% of C-level executives want to add YouTube to their marketing strategy, while only 42% of individual contributors in marketing agree.
  • 40% of individual contributor sales reps say telephone is the best way to contact a prospect, while only 26% of C-level executives agree.
  • 45% of salespeople say they spend over an hour performing manual data entry on a daily basis, yet only 21% of C-level executives said this is so.

As you can see, a disconnect between the executive and implementation levels can lead to incomplete and often flawed perspectives on different areas of the business for those within the decision-making roles. Not only can the validity of strategies be misjudged, but key decisions in things like technology can be misguided all due to Executive Isolation.

So if executives are now at a greater risk of isolating themselves from the actual goings-on of the company, what can they do to better stay connected to what's most important to their business and understand the day-to-day challenges their employees face?

Here are 5 steps to help fight executive isolation:

Step 1: Establish Organizational Goals

Ensure these goals are time-bound (annual goals are the most common), utilize consistent metrics (revenue and profitability are the most common but there can be company-specific metrics as well), are tracked in a visibile fashion (such as a scoreboard), and are understood & accepted by everyone in the company.

Step 2: Establish Department Goals

Establish goals with the different managers of the various areas of the business surrounding their departments/responsibilities. You'll want to make sure these goals connect to the overall company goals that were established in step 1. Get buy-in with these people on the goals they believe are realistic and attainable so that they understand that they will be held accountable based off them.

Step 3: Establish Metrics Indicative of Growth & Success

Start with higher-level metrics that may be directly connected to the company's goal and then work down to more granular areas that may be connected to and effect different, smaller areas of different departments that are tied to their overall success. Get buy-in with these people on what data sets are going to showcase success or failure.

Step 4: Build a Scoreboard

Build a scoreboard that will allow you to track the progress made toward the various goals set and showcase the key metrics agreed upon to showcase success or failure. Ensure the data used in the scoreboard is standardized and if possible, automated. Tools like Databox are great for executives to get visibility into key metrics at any time without requesting a report. Make these scoreboards or versions of them visible to all so that everyone within the company from the executive to the leadership team to the individual contributors can see what the score is and generally how it is being tracked.

Step 5: Establish a Cadence for Review & Discussion

Establish a cadence of reviewing these goals, metrics, and scoreboards with your leadership team on a regular basis (weekly if possible). Celebrate the successes while also digging deeper on the misses to understand what may be affecting them. While these cadences may initially focus on metrics, they should evolve to also consider the different elements that affect them such as the people, processes, and tools connected to the teams and goals that they own. These conversations may lead to revelations between you and your leadership team that the tools your company has implemented aren't being used or aren't supporting your team properly.

Executive Isolation is no new issue and neither is its solution, but the consequences for not attacking this can be seen much sooner and be more severe than previously. If you can't comfortably point to a system that you have in place to help you stay connected to the day-to-day challenges your employees face then you may want to consider these 5 steps before you face the consequences of the statistics listed above.

Interested in learning more about the industry's latest trends and directions? Check out HubSpot's 2017 State of Inbound Report by clicking below.