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Business is Like an Airplane Step 5 (Part 5): The Body (Your Overhead & Operations) – The Personal Priority Speed Check – Individual Feedback Weekly

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Does each of your Team Members know what is expected of them and then consistently receive feedback on how they are doing? If you’re not sure, or it’s not systematic within your company, then establishing the Personal Priority Speed Check meetings inside each of your departments will provide that direction and feedback weekly.

In this Series, we’re reviewing the 6-Step Plan to run your business from Donald Miller’s latest book, How to Grow Your Small Business, and the online platform at

The analogy of an airplane helps describe the 6 Steps and this week, we’re continuing with our fifth installment in Step 5, the Body, Your Overhead & Operations.  In this part of Step 5, Don introduces the fourth meeting in the Management & Productivity Made Simple Playbook: The Personal Priority Speed Check.  The primary purpose of the Personal Priority Speed Check meeting is to ensure that each Teammate of each department understands what is expected and gets feedback on those priorities.

Establishing the Personal Priority Speed Checks of the Management & Productivity Made Simple Playbook will reduce your need, as the overall Leader of the company, to try to provide feedback to each individual contributor within each of the departments.  It establishes a clear method for the Department Leaders to track the individual priorities of their Teammates, receiving and discussing updates on each priority.  This dialog allows Department Leaders to manage their Teammates so that you, as the overall business leader, don’t get bogged down as the company grows.  The Personal Priority Speed Check meeting Template will ensure the meeting is well-structured and an effective use of everyone’s precious time.

Step 5 – The Body (Your Overhead & Operations) – Feedback for Each Member of Your Team – The Personal Priority Speed Check Meeting

Do Each of Your Teammates Clearly Understand Their Priorities Each Day?

For most meetings, the Leader sets the agenda and does the pre-work to ensure the meeting is successful.  The Personal Priority Speed Check is another one that flips that norm around because each Teammate has a responsibility to show up to the Personal Priority Speed Check with their own individual template filled out.  In the template, each Teammate will list four groups of priorities:

  1. The Overall Company’s Top Three Priorities
  2. The Department’s Top Three Priorities
  3. The Individual’s Personal Priorities
  4. The Individual’s Development Priorities

Obviously, to list all these priorities means they must clearly know their priorities!  Unfortunately, in too many organizations, it’s rare that Teammates clearly know their own priorities, let alone the Department or Company priorities.  For the system to work, the Company and each of the Departments must establish and publish their priorities, as well as have each individual Teammate know both their work priorities and their growth priorities.  This level of clarity inside an organization is an important part of why the Management & Productivity Made Simple framework helps organizations scale effectively.

Undivided Time with the Leader

Except for a very few exceptions, your Teammates want to do a good job.  It’s natural that they want to be productive and help the Team succeed.  An important part of their engagement is the opportunity to have undivided, one-on-one time with their Leader.

The two critical aspects that a Department Leader can provide consistent feedback on are:

  1. How are Teammates doing their job?
  2. How are Teammates progressing on their career?

While these two items are related, they are not the same.

The job refers to the work that they are doing at the company.  Everything from their tasks to how they interact and support their Teammates.  They need clarity and feedback on how they are doing so they can adjust their current performance, as needed, to help the Department and the Company win.

The career element refers to growth plan and opportunities for advancement and future development.  Teammates want to get better and move up.  Knowing that their Department Leader is working with them on their growth plan is an important way to let individuals know that their growth is supported and expected.

Whether your Team members fully realize it, or not, they need feedback on both aspects, job and career, to stay engaged and motivated for the longer term.  The Personal Priority Speed Check is specifically designed to create the opportunity for Department Leaders to have those conversations.  In addition to providing feedback, the Department Leaders should have the goal of making sure that each member of their Team feels seen, heard, and understood through the process.

Your Departmental Leaders – Establishing Priorities and Engaging Each Department

As the overall Leader of your Company, you need your Department Leaders to effectively lead and manage their Teams.  The Personal Priority Speed Checks are designed to facilitate that process in three important ways:

  1. Departmental Priorities must be established and communicated within each Department.
  2. Department Leaders must pay close attention to their Team members in order to provide appropriate feedback at the weekly sessions.
  3. Each Teammate will have established, and written, priorities for the job and for personal development.

By establishing the Departmental Priorities, your Department Leaders are clearly communicating to both their Team and the rest of the Company, the most important items of their Department that support the Company’s biggest priorities.  This alignment of priorities is critical to successfully operating and scaling the business.  Meeting 1-to-1 with each member of the Department, the Leaders must actively pay attention to each one and ensure that the individual priorities are appropriate in both the job and the personal development realms.  Without this meeting rhythm, it’s easy for a Department Leader to go for extended periods of time without getting undivided time with each Teammate.

You’ll be amazed to discover how using the Personal Priority Speed Check from the Management & Productivity Made Simple Playbook will engage the Team members of each department.  This weekly management opportunity for Department Leaders helps remove the need, or temptation, for you, as the overall business Leader, to try to micromanage everyone throughout the company.

business made simple

Creating a formal process for managing departments frees you to lead and scale your company. 

As each Team member reflects on the priorities of both the overall business and the department, those priorities will naturally flow into the individual priorities they list.  Every Teammate will also identify their top three personal development priorities to keep moving on a growth trajectory.  Using the Personal Priority Speed Check Meeting Template will ensure that meetings are well-run, and that undivided time is given to each Team member each week.  Individual time with the Department Leader is critical to engage each Teammate and allows the Department Leader to effectively manage the entire Team’s progress towards job and career success.

Final Thoughts

Step 5 from Donald Miller’s book,  How to Grow Your Small Business, is the Body – Your Overhead & Operations.  The Personal Priority Speed Check is the fourth of the five meetings that make up the Management & Productivity Made Simple Playbook.  Installing the Personal Priority Speed Check for each of your departments will prevent you from trying to personally manage everyone in the company, which will limit the company’s growth potential.

Once you have more than 10 or 12 Team members, your ability to effectively manage your growing business bogs down.  Even more importantly, each member of your company will get feedback on their most important priorities each week, along with a discussion with the Department Leader regarding additional personal development priorities to drive individual Teammate growth. The template for the Personal Priority Speed Check is available to download so that you can implement it in your company. After you fill out your information, you will receive the link to a downloadable PDF.

business made simple

Step 5 will ensure the Body of your small business airplane, your Overhead & Operations, can be managed effectively so that it won’t limit the altitude you can achieve.  The biggest part of your Overhead is the people on your airplane, and those people are one of the biggest reasons you have a plane in the first place.  You want your business to be able to fly them far and high, soaring to new heights of success.

Next week, we’ll introduce the fifth meeting in the Management & Productivity Made Simple Playbook, the Quarterly Performance Review, which sets up your Department Leaders to provide crystal clear focus on the demonstrated performance of each Teammate from the previous three months of operation.