Game Plan: Combine an Aggressive Pace with a Laser Focus

If there’s been one consistent theme at the 2021 annual planning sessions that our coaches are facilitating, it’s that CEOs want to do more than just maintain the momentum they established in Q4. They want to ramp up their growth pace and really accelerate into the new year.

But all too often, companies that want to grow scatter their focus. Yes, you’re going to fire some bullets in Q1 2021, some of which will hit their marks and merit further investment. But chasing after a bunch of shiny new things is just going to keep your wheels spinning until you’re stuck in a ditch.

This four-step process will help you hit BIGGER targets faster while keeping your essential vision for the company front and center. 

1. Zero in.

Review the top goals for Q1 2021 that you set at your annual planning session. Somewhere on that list is a target you could hit in three months instead of four. Somewhere there’s a daily or weekly KPI you could double by making an infrastructure upgrade, by offshoring a remedial task, or by hiring a new superstar. Somewhere there’s an inefficiency you could reduce by 15% instead of 10%.

When you zero in and focus, you can compress cycle times. When you compress cycle times, you not only speed up, but you also do things differently. Instead of, “I’ll get back to you next week,” you say, “Let’s plan on tomorrow afternoon.” Everyone starts expecting more of each other, they figure out how to get work done faster, better, and more accurate, and it becomes a virtuous circle. 

And it’s all connected. When your long-term goals are tied to actionable, measurable short-term tasks, turning up the right dial can give your entire business a real shot in the arm. Just that little tweak of pressure, that extra sense of urgency creates an uptick in energy and effort that will animate everything your company does.

Mark Moses: This year is going to be about exploring what you CAN do and finding out just how BIG this company can be.

2. Incentivize top performance.

Why do your employees sell what they sell?

Because a service is popular? Because that customer always orders the same product? Because hitting the same sales goals guarantees a good commission? Because they’re expecting an annual bonus no matter what they do or don’t do?

Companies that have established a high-performance culture know that compensation is an essential part of the package. That means paying top C-suite talent what they’re worth and rewarding them when they clear the bars you set. That means showing mid-level employees a path to promotion. That means creating comp structures that encourage your sales team to broaden your customer base and sell your most profitable products and services so that they get paid and the company keeps growing.

Consider this. The average annual salary of an NBA player is $7.7 million. The highest salary in the league is Steph Curry at $43 million–that’s 5.6x the average salary. Do you want a team of average players or a team of Steph Curry’s? Pay up for the very best performers and you’ll win championships.

And, if you’re a young company trying to attract millennial talent, consider exploring new profit-sharing arrangements that make the next generation feel like they have real ownership over the work they do.

3. Set a positive pace.

COVID-19 put limits on what companies could accomplish in 2020. Many firms focused their efforts and resources on just surviving month to month. Many struggling companies are still stuck doing that.

Your employees need to understand that your accelerated goals for 2021 aren’t coming from that same negative place. This year isn’t going to be about survival. It’s not going to be about what you can’t do. It’s going to be about exploring what you CAN do and finding out just how BIG this company can be.

Some of your employees might not respond to the pace you want to set. Your customers, however, will be enthusiastic about better offerings, more efficient service, and faster delivery.

Maintaining a consistent, positive communication rhythm will be important to achieving buy-in from your best people. So will your responsiveness to feedback, especially from remote workers who are struggling with work-life balance. If you address legitimate concerns openly and provide reasonable flexibility, your top talent will rise to the challenge. Anyone who doesn’t probably shouldn’t be on your team in the first place.

4. Raise your standards.

Like any other goal you set for your business, ramping up performance isn’t going to happen overnight. But if you spot small areas where you can apply some positive pressure, accelerate cycles, and improve customer service, those changes can start to snowball.

For example:

  • Do you have a policy that missed client calls are returned by the end of the day? Start a new policy: calls are returned in 90 minutes or less.
  • Your marketing team needs seven days to design your next online campaign? That’s an eternity in social media time. Tell them you want to see a rough draft in three days.
  • Is your sales team struggling to connect with clients virtually? Hold a training session and upgrade your CRM with a person-to-person FORD focus.
  • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your C-suite and team leaders? Can you coach up the 7s and 8s? Why are you settling for so many 5s and 6s when there’s such a deep pool of available talent?

These kinds of improvements are about getting your people to want to work faster and harder. They’re about perpetuating a culture that accomplishes specific tasks more efficiently. If you can maintain that culture, an accelerated pace won’t be a goal anymore. It will just be how your company operates, grows, and continues to make BIG happen every day. And it will attract growth-minded people while repelling salary seekers.

About Mark Moses

Mark Moses is the Founding Partner of CEO Coaching International and the Amazon Bestselling author of Make Big Happen. Mark has won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Blue Chip Enterprise award for overcoming adversity. His last company ranked #1 Fastest-Growing Company in Los Angeles as well as #10 on the Inc. 500 of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. He has completed 12 full distance Ironman Triathlons including the Hawaii Ironman World Championship 5 times.

About CEO Coaching International

CEO Coaching International works with the world’s top entrepreneurs, CEOs, and companies to dramatically grow their business, develop their people, and elevate their overall performance. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 600 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 40 countries. Every coach at CEO Coaching International is a former CEO or President that has made big happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $1 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight and nine figure exits. CEOs and entrepreneurs working with CEO Coaching International for three years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 59% during their time as a client, more than five times the national average. For more information, please visit:


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