New Managers: How To Establish Your “Rhythm of Business” (ROB) Model

October 14, 2015

Colleagues at an office meetingIn my last blog I explained the six critical steps you need to take after you’ve been promoted into the job of a department manager. In this week’s article I look at the next aspect you’ll want to focus on when leading a department – establishing your rhythm of business (ROB) model.

Don’t be frightened, this isn’t as scary as it sounds. It merely means to visually depict what will happen each month throughout the year and the meetings you’ll hold, so you can best manage your department to achieve its goals and objectives. This model doesn’t need to be complex. In fact, the simpler it is the better it will be because it will be used by you and everyone on your team to be as prepared as possible at all times.

To create your rhythm of business model (also known as a “governance model” and “business cadence”), here are some steps to follow:

Document what is needed for HR processes/activities. Every company has certain processes that require participation from each department and that department’s manager. Find out what these are. For example, meet with your HR counterpart to understand the performance appraisal process, what is due, by whom and when. Learn the process for employee pay raises, bonuses and incentive plans as they apply to your department. Find out how the process works for employee development and creation of development plans. Take the time to understand everything you’ll need to know and do to ensure you’re complying with all the required HR processes and activities.

Document what is needed for finance processes/activities. Similarly, meet with your finance counterpart to understand the annual budget creation process, reporting, progress review process, etc. Learn everything you’ll need to provide to your finance counterpart, when it will be needed and the best way you can work together. Then, meet with any other department leaders with whom you’ll need to be working and go through the same process as you did with HR and finance.

Document what is needed for the strategic planning process. Most companies have some sort of annual strategic planning process that requires input from each department and is also tied into the annual financial planning/budgeting process. Find out what will be required of you and your department, to whom and when it’s needed.

Determine the meetings you’ll want to hold within your team. In general, I recommend holding a monthly staff meeting to keep everyone up-to-date and informed of key activities as well as meeting once a week with each direct report. It will mainly depend on the type, size and geographic location of the department you’re leading when it comes to determining the specific meetings you’ll need to hold. For example, if you manage a marketing team, you’ll also most likely need to hold regularly scheduled meetings to review sales figures, budgets, pricing, competitive information, marketing plans, communication plans, customer feedback/issues, etc. The schedule for a marketing team tends to be much more meeting intensive than if you’re leading a sales team. That’s because, in sales, you want to keep meetings to a minimum so sales reps have the maximum amount of time to work with customers.

Create a draft list of what needs to take place each month of the year. Once you’ve completed the steps listed above, it’s time to write down what will happen each month. My recommendation is to create this list based on the company’s fiscal calendar. If the fiscal year begins in January, then start your list with this month. If the fiscal year ends in September, then start your list with October. On a white board, Word document, Excel document or whatever you’re most comfortable using, write down everything you’ve learned from your research and your thoughts on the meetings you’ll want to hold within your department.

Your list might look like this (a simplified marketing department example, for first four months):

January:

  • Q4 financial/budget/performance review
  • Q4 review with each marketing team, by geography
  • Finalize/approve current year’s budgets and strategic plan
  • Begin implementing Q1 marketing and communications plans
  • Employee self-evaluations and manager performance appraisals (for previous year)
  • Finalize preparations for training sessions at national sales meeting (held in Feb)
  • Monthly department staff meeting

February:

  • Salary review/performance-based merit pay increase process
  • January financial/budget/performance review
  • National sales meeting
  • Meet with Sales Advisory Board members – obtain feedback
  • Internal customer feedback surveys and interviews
  • Monthly department staff meeting

March:

  • February financial/budget/performance review
  • External customer feedback surveys and interviews
  • End-of-life products/services analysis and review
  • Monthly department staff meeting

April:

  • Q1 financial/budget/performance review
  • Q1 review with each marketing team, by geography
  • Q1 competitive analysis and review
  • Q1 pricing review: products and services
  • Q1 strategic plan progress review
  • Q1 industry/market analysis and review
  • Marketing processes review/improvements
  • Monthly department staff meeting

Review the draft list with your team. Sit down with your team (or key members of your team) to review your draft ROB list. Obtain feedback and input. Is anything missing? Is anything out of order and should be moved?

Review the draft list with your counterparts. Meet with all appropriate counterparts within the company to review your list and obtain their feedback. At a minimum, this should include your HR and finance counterparts, but might also include sales, service, operations, etc.

Review the list with your boss. Meet with your manager to share your rhythm of business model and the activities for each month. Solicit his/her comments and feedback to ensure you’re both on the same page and clear on the expectations of what should occur and when. Make any necessary updates.

Implement the model within your department and share with your internal customers. After you’ve finalized your rhythm of business model and put it into a professional-looking format, communicate the tool throughout your department. The goal for using this tool is to ensure everyone on your team knows what to expect and when, and to ensure individuals are focused on the most important activities at the appropriate times. Once you’ve communicated with your team, share the tool with your counterparts within the company, so you can create the best possible working relationship with other groups.

~ Lisa Quast

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