Be Concise (And Avoid Trying to Accomplish too Much at Once)

By Richard Voreis

I’m continuing my theme of sharing guidelines for establishing employee action plans (objectives) that support a company’s top priorities (goals). There are 23 guidelines, so we’re about 25% of the way through them all. Remember, if your management and staff employees are held accountable, then your business will be  much more successful.

Action Plan Guideline #6: Be Specific

Action plans are what employees do in support of the company’s top priorities and make all employees accountable for achieving success. Action plans say how the employees will accomplish the top priorities. With respect to these objectives, generalities don’t get the job done. Here are some examples of action plans that are too general.

• Increase sales. This doesn’t say how to make it happen and literally when revenues are increased by $1 the objective has been accomplished.
• Finish projects on schedule. This is already expected. Instead, establish action plans that will make it happen.
• Improve the project management process. This doesn’t say how, and there is no understanding of what will be done.
• Contribute to improved teamwork. This doesn’t explain how to do it or what, specifically, needs to be accomplished.
• Contribute to improved internal communications. Again, this doesn’t explain how it will be accomplished.

Action Plan Guideline #7: Be Focused

While this advice is short, it’s extremely important, so make sure you follow these guidelines. Establishing too many objectives can lead to problems. Make sure you and your employees avoid piling on too much. Instead, focus only on important and meaningful action plans.

Follow an absolute rule of not having more than one page of objectives. Remember, you and your employees can always establish more when the original list is finished. If you start with too many, you probably won’t accomplish much because your focus will be lacking. Limiting action plans to one page guards against that.

Consider this example. Several years ago, a manager had a relatively young project manager who had some great plans. The trouble was that his plans were too great  and too all-inclusive. This person established several pages, and most were good. Rather than editing the list down to one type-written page, the manager let him set out on the journey to accomplish them all. As a result, the project manager didn’t know where to start, became totally overwhelmed and didn’t accomplish much. What would have happened if the manager insisted the action plans not exceed one page? It’s fairly safe to say that a lot more would have been accomplished. Learn from this mistake!

Richard Voreis is the founder and CEO of Consulting Collaborative in Dallas. His column appears bi-monthly. Email him at and read his blog on Wednesdays at

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