In the weeks leading up to the 25th annual Business & Leadership Conference, we asked NSCA leadership to share their insights and expertise on many of the subjects we’ll cover at the event. Here, Kyle Habben, president at Electronic Contracting Company (ECC), shares how he helped his company find focus amid chaos.
Many integration company leaders chase after countless priorities without staying focused on their most important objectives.
How we conduct business—and our everyday lives—has changed. Over the past few years, consider what’s been added to our already-chaotic days (which makes staying focused on long-term business goals harder):
- COVID-19 hit
- Inflation struck
- The supply chain completely wrecked strategic and execution plans
- The political landscape impacted professional and personal lives
- Demands for (and of) the workforce shifted
Chaos and potential distraction seem to live behind every door and around every corner. Integration firm leaders are left to determine which challenge, conversation, or task we should complete next—not to mention our never-ending to-do list filled with ideas from employees, our personal goals, customer requests, and day-to-day business operation improvements.
Taking on everything at once is where risk begins—and where staying focused becomes more difficult. With each small distraction, you lose focus; you’re busy, but you’re not accomplishing things.
Inside the Chaos
When I stepped into my role as president at Electronic Contracting Company, there wasn’t a lack of things to accomplish. With so many ideas about things that could be fixed, updated, changed, or given some attention, our leadership team and employees were excited to get started. Starting on Day One, we went to work. Each person and department had a long list of things to implement.
As a leader, I wanted to be supportive and execute as many ideas as we could. As time progressed, each person was working on 20 different things at a time; very few were gaining traction, staying focused, or completing their goals each quarter. Over time, team members became frustrated. We were missing important items, becoming distracted with other items, and struggling with prioritization.
I was pulled in several directions while trying to get as much completed as possible, but we couldn’t keep up this pace. Each person started the day with too many priorities; no one knew which task should go first. The items we worked on were focused on the business and our goals, but they weren’t always of the utmost importance or aligned with other departments. We were completing dozens of “tasks,” but not making meaningful progress.
To fix this, we made one major change: We identified the one big thing holding us back and attacked it with everything we had—one small piece at a time, for as long as it took—and prioritized that one thing above all others.
Identifying One Big Goal
We shifted our energy and focus to one main goal. We choose one major theme for each quarter, and all goals revolve around that theme to push us closer to completing our overall mission.
Instead of seven goals, each executive team member has only one or two goals to accomplish during that timeframe—with the expectation of 100% completion. Our teams put their energy into and prioritize this over all other initiatives. They work within their departments, with other departments, with the leadership team, and with anyone else required to accomplish those goals.
This strategy is the most efficient way to move our business forward and achieve our goals. Through this focus, noticeable progress is made, and we are truly gaining traction.
How You Can Make It Happen
Though there are no silver bullets, I do believe there is one key thing you can do to get started. Take a moment to step away from the business and identify the one big thing that holds your business back. Once you’ve identified it, roll up your sleeves and dig into what truly needs to be prioritized for a major positive impact, whether it’s a challenge that your company faces or an opportunity that can change your future.
After you’ve reflected on this question, then bring the question to your teams, get their feedback, and choose your initiative. Once the initiative is chosen, communicate this goal across the organization and align your teams to work toward it weekly, monthly, and quarterly until your focus goal is accomplished.
This is not an easy process. You and your team will evolve with the many lessons learned along the way. Embrace this goal with your team and stay focused on your future success—and stay away from the distractions.
Kyle Habben is president and CEO of Electronic Contracting Company (ECC) and an NSCA Board of Directors Member.
Chat with him at NSCA’s 25th annual Business & Leadership Conference in Irving, TX, on Feb. 28-March 2. Register at www.nsca.org/blc.