June 25, 2024


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14 Critical Business Areas Executives Often Overlook


Every business operates with many moving parts. Because so many business areas require attention, some critical ones can easily be overlooked by company leaders. So it’s essential for executives to take a step back occasionally and examine areas of their business that need to be more carefully organized.

Here, 14 members of Forbes Coaches Council explore some key aspects of a business that may “slip through the cracks” and share their advice on what leaders can do to ensure these areas are tended to and stay well-organized.

1. Organizational Health

Organizational health is definitely an area that is frequently overlooked and even misunderstood. Organizational health is about creating a culture and an atmosphere that is conducive to employees doing their best work. It is about creating a sustainable work environment, rather than one in which people frequently get burned out. It is about wise leadership that engages and motivates employees. – Rajeev Shroff, Cupela Consulting

2. Bottom-Line Details

The details that determine a company’s profitability are mostly not paid attention to. Budgets are normally based on history, with the idea of receiving the bosses’ approval, and executives do always approach budgeting as if they were the owners. They spend enough to fit the scheduled budget and do not try to save when possible. Executives should be rewarded for their contribution to improve the bottom line. – Maria Ines Moran, Action Coach

3. Customer Experience

Customer experience is a leadership role. We track data and statistics, but customer engagement is about more than numbers or a five-star rating. I recommend executives take back the role and get involved in customer feedback. On your own or as a leadership team, make a list of things you would like to know or clarify. Then, make some calls or get involved in a focus group—ask for feedback and listen. – Sara Phelan, Evalu8-Evolve Business Coaching

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?

4. Strategic Planning

Strategic planning to get alignment and clear priorities on building the systems to drive growth is often a big miss. Most approach it from inside a silo based on historical data, the boss’s thinking and the past budget. For many, success seems to be circumstantial—like the pandemic, it could be a big windfall for some but a disaster for others. Recognize the situation and get advice to structure it properly. – Dennis Foo, Pu Xin ASPIRA Advisory Limited – Shanghai | Hong Kong

5. Culture

Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some executives still see reliance on people as a liability versus a valuable asset. Companies with productive, collaborative, high-performance employees will win every time. Invest in employees to help them learn, grow, collaborate, contribute and bring their best to work every single day. They will move mountains! – Kimberly Svoboda, Aspiration Catalyst®

6. Health And Wellness Programs

Health and wellness programs are currently designed to directly target company performance metrics and indirectly hope to target employee health. Programs should focus on redefining health mindsets, upgrading health skills and changing behaviors. They need to be highly customized for age, gender, education, socioeconomic status, culture, ethnicity and job to deliver the end outcome: healthier employees. – Rittu Sinha, The Balanced Bandwagon

7. Leadership Development

Leadership development is often overlooked in organizations and is a critical component of fostering a successful work environment. Companies and HR representatives are often resource-limited and do not have time to adequately train, so it is recommended that leadership training be outsourced to a third party. This also offers an outside perspective that the company can learn from. – Luke Feldmeier, Online Leadership Training – Career and Leadership Accelerator for Engineers

8. Storytelling

Businesses undervalue the art of storytelling. It’s paramount that the C-suite is united with a single, compelling story about the business strategy. Directors benefit from telling stories that galvanize the discretionary effort of their teams. Salespeople often neglect honing their storytelling skill set and rarely manage an institutional library of stories to share with future prospects. – Stephanie Judd, Wolf & Heron

9. Mission Alignment

In pro services, businesses can grow quickly for a while. At about the 35th employee, something changes. Departments form. Silos go up. Tribalism ensues. Growth stalls. Most leaders look to sales and marketing strategies to reignite growth. But the real problem is that the company doesn’t know how to align teams to focus on a singular mission. To fix this problem, you have to recognize it. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group

10. Cross-Functional Collaboration

In any organization, there is a need for and a benefit from different business areas collaborating with each other and sharing best practices. However, this is often overlooked. My advice to any executive is to make sure that there is a regular information flow between different departments and—even better—shared objectives and goals. – Josephine Kant, Google for Startups

11. Pipeline Creation

Creating a pipeline, and not just of leaders, is often overlooked. Organizations tend to focus on succession planning for the top of the house and neglect the rest of the domino chain. When one leader is moved to another role or promoted, that leaves a vacancy, which leaves a vacancy and so on. Strong organizations help every employee think about who could step in and take over their role, regardless of level or title. – Kristy Busija, Next Conversation Coaching, LLC

12. Conversations With Employees

In business, there are so many key areas to focus on, and especially in the C-suite. One area that I have often seen executives overlook is making sure they get all perspectives—in other words, not just from finance, strategy, marketing/sales and other leadership roles. Make sure you keep your ears open and have conversations with actual rank-and-file employees. You would be amazed at how much they know and how much you can learn! – Ash Varma, Varma & Associates

13. Engagement And Feedback Systems

Senior leaders need to engage in the development of systems of engagement and feedback. Frequent pulse checks, walkabouts and chats with employees foster a sense of belonging and respect. Ongoing, honest dialogue about work and expectations creates a heightened sense of accountability and value. Create formal and informal systems that ensure everyone brings their best selves to work daily. – Susan Murray, Clearpath Leadership

14. Diversity Development

It’s easy to put diversity on the back burner, but the business case for diversity is undeniable. Having more women and more employees from historically marginalized groups makes your organization better ready to serve the needs of an increasingly diverse pool of potential customers. Companies that will reap these benefits in the future are prioritizing diversity within their ranks now. – Lisa D. Foster, Lisa D. Foster, Coach


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