With year-end planning sessions already underway, companies look to make better decisions on how all of their resources can best serve the business. The problem is that many senior executives question their managers’ abilities to do just that. Sixty percent say their managers make bad decisions as often as they make good ones. Twelve percent say that good judgments are altogether infrequent and only 28% think that the quality of strategic decisions within their organizations, at any level, can be considered “good.”
There are many factors that go into making smart business decisions. Access to complete, timely and accurate information is the obvious one, but so is understanding the needs of the internal customers for whom the program is designed to support. One thing is certain, in places where poor decision-making is the norm, both of these factors are lacking.
Being prepared to answer your sponsor’s questions is something every program manager needs to be ready for. But that’s not enough. Proactively offering “fact-based” ideas that would enhance the impact of the investment is what program stewards need to do more often. Employee recognition and sales incentive managers who do just that put their companies in a better position to profit from the programs they run.
Here are 3 ways you too can contribute more at decision time.
1/ Know your numbers
That seems fundamental enough, but you’d be surprised how limiting some technologies can be in that regard. While just about every system out there captures transactional information, many don’t do it in real-time. Many more post information at such a high level that it’s next to impossible to drill down and uncover trends or spot patterns.
The ability to configure reports so you can identify information of interest is important to making decisions quickly and accurately. Without the flexibility to separate transactions by key locations or program audiences you will be limited in your ability to contribute at decision time.
2/ Know your sponsor’s needs
The executives who have a stake in the outcome of the program you manage expect a higher level of consultative partnership from you. Get to know what their KPIs are, understand their financial forecasts and be crystal clear on how the program is expected to improve them.
Simply stated; if you want to contribute more at decision time you need to know their business agendas. Have in-depth conversations with those who are reliant on the results you will be reporting and talk with secondary sponsors as well (people who may not be directly connected to the outcomes, but can benefit from them none-the-less). That could include marketing and customer care departments for both sales incentives and employee recognition initiatives. That will put you in a better position to contribute ideas across the broader value chain.
3/ Come to the table with a point of view
While most program managers have a pretty good feel for what has happened, few are using program information to predict what lies ahead. Their focus (and therefore their point of view) is limited to events that have already occurred.
Predictive analytics uses historical data to predict future events. The process leverages past occurrences to forecast future outcomes. Here you can go beyond what‘s transpired and offer a perspective on why it’s happened. Did a certain group respond well to an incentive? If not, why? Was the result unique to one segment of employees versus another? What factors drove the discrepancy? Once you have identified the variables you can “test-scenario” potential changes in advance of any decisions to be made.