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The Pitfalls of Shifting Priorities — 

Let's assume that you have in place a well developed strategic plan and a well developed business plan. We assume that because if you aren't you should be. Following that assumption, it makes sense that there should be a relatively consistent focus on the priorities of your business. But is there?

An all too common problem in businesses without, and sometimes with, sound plans in place is a constant shifting of priorities based on ill-conceived or baseless reasons for making the shifts. Often times the shifts occur because the owner or manager can't maintain focus and discipline in carrying out a plan. Or, as is more often the case there is not a good plan in place and any sort of focus is next to impossible to achieve. Sometimes the personality of the owner or manager is such that decisions are based far too much on emotion or impulse and those decisions can contradict a decision that might have been made only hours or days earlier.

When priorities and direction shift for no apparent reason other than the whim of the owner or manager, employees become very frustrated. They find themselves working hard to achieve one objective or task one day and perhaps an entirely different one the next. Or they sense there is indecision on the part of management and they lose confidence in management's ability to lead the company effectively.

To avoid shifting priorities, make sure that you have a well developed and sound strategic plan and a well conceived operating/business plan in place. Stay focused on the goals set forth in your strategic plan. Goals should change only when there is compelling evidence that your direction is inappropriate. If the plan is well conceived to begin with, this will rarely be the case.

If you tend to be an anxious person, make sure your stress doesn't interfere with good judgment. Just because you have a setback or two doesn't mean that a shift in your priorities in needed. Every business encounters setbacks of some sort. Expect them and deal with them. But don't change your focus unless you know that you are headed in the wrong direction.

It's important to also recognize that sticking with a bad plan or decision can be just as detrimental to the business as shifting priorities on a whim. While shifting priorities can be a problem, remember too that it's just as damaging to stick with a bad decision/strategy. Stubborness by management to stick with a bad decision or plan can be devastating. It's important to evaluate decisions and plans regularly to make sure they still make sense for your business. If not, a partial or complete shift is likely in order.

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