Keys to helping your business prepare for the new year
Wow, the new year has arrived! As THE leader of your organization, how would you assess the performance of your organization over the past year?
Regardless of the size of your organization you lead, this article is for you. If you are in healthcare, manufacturing, retail, sports, higher education, non-profits, any franchise, or any other business, you need a good business plan. I encourage you to read on for some keys to success in writing that plan for the coming year!
Lets start with some questions.
Are you satisfied with the sales and profit performance of your company? Are you satisfied with the performance of your management team? How have you prepared your firm, department, or team to succeed this year? And how do you know? What are the top 3-5 key objectives critical for the success of your organization?
These are some of the tough – but critical – questions for which leaders at all levels need to address, especially those at the top. Business owners who have no effective plans in writing for the year are most likely not reaching their full potential.
Why You Need a Plan
SUSTAINED HIGH PERFORMANCE and growth of any organization will be difficult without a good plan that is well executed.
I know, from my own experience, that whether I was very clear or confused on what I wanted to happen, I always took a bunch of people with me. Good business plans provide clarity and purpose. They unify the entire organization to move towards the same destination, focused on what is most important. Plans become great leader development tools helping increase accountability. When the leadership fails to plan, or puts a half-hearted effort towards it, the respect of their team begins to erode.
In the military, leaders who fail to provide good plans with clear objectives and strategies set their troops up to fail. That is no different than leaders in the business world. While the consequences of poor planning can be much more severe for military operations, they can be disastrous for businesses, too.
A good plan needs to highlight what you are building, why the organization exists, the top 3-5 measurable objectives for the year, and your strategies that describe how you will accomplish those objectives.
The Leaders Role
As THE leader what would you give to have a plan that provides great answers to those questions above?
The senior leader in any organization owns this task. Leaders inspire the creation and implementation of the plan. They ensure that it is concise, understandable, executable and is communicated throughout the organization. Used on a regular basis, the plan becomes a key part of the disciplined process to set goals and measure performance.
I was involved in planning for over 30 years – both in the military and in my consulting business. In the military, I learned from other great leaders the effectiveness of what we called “500 Day Plans.” 500 days, or 18 months, was far enough to effectively plan due to the ever-changing military environment.
My final plan in the Army was as the Commanding General of Army’s Signal Center and School at Fort Gordon, GA. We addressed all the key questions from above. Our plan identified three lines of operation, eight priorities and 111 specified tasks with a senior leader accountable – by name – for every task.
I hosted an initial “all-hands” meeting to lay out the plan for every employee of the organization. I held periodic updates at the senior level using a “dashboard” approach. The dashboard highlighted each of the priorities with a color code assessment (like red/amber/green) summary of progress. This would allow the team to focus on those priorities that needed attention. Other leaders conducted more frequent reviews at lower levels. We used the plan to communicate with other key leaders throughout the Army (stakeholders) as well as to guide important decisions and daily work.
This plan combined with its execution played a monumental role in our collective success at the fort.
Impact on Team Members
When plans are put in writing, people take them seriously – they become “real.” Team members respect for and confidence in the leadership grows. The plan helps clarify their own performance expectations. When implemented, employees become galvanized in their collective focus on what is most important for the organization. Engagement increases as they feel more part of the team knowing how their individual performance contributes to the overall mission.
Think about what you can achieve for your business with a focused, well-crafted plan for the upcoming year! Leaders – do not let this task go undone for the upcoming year! Make this year one of your best and then celebrate your success!
I wish you the best in your leadership journey!