Year end is the perfect time to reflect on and celebrate accomplishments made during 2018. Yes, year-end is time to enjoy your success. It’s also a great time to plan for the accomplishments you want to achieve in 2019. Whether you are expanding or launching something new, setting objectives is your starting point.
First, identify a few specific areas of your organization you’d like to change or improve in 2019. Want higher profits, cash flow or client base? Need a new employee or system? No change or improvement will happen without a plan to get it done, starting with clear and detailed objectives.
Follow these three tips for objectives that give you a head start toward the finish line:
Gather the Numbers
Quantify all the applicable aspects of your objective. This task will require some research
and could entail making estimates and assumptions. For example, how much profit or client growth do you want to achieve? Can you express that growth as a dollar amount and as a percentage? How much would a new system or employee cost? How much of that cost would be one-time and how much would be ongoing? The more numbers you can nail down or estimate, the better.
Keep market conditions and your resource capacity in mind when setting growth objectives. It’s important to be realistic in order to ensure that your objectives are achievable. Setting unrealistic objectives is not only discouraging, it can result in allocating resources – aka time and money – on activities that are unlikely to succeed. Better to target those resources on realistic, achievable objectives.
Adjust As Needed
No matter how well you research, estimate and focus on the achievable, any view of future events is imperfect. Market conditions and other factors that you depended on when setting your objectives could change. Periodically assess progress on meeting your objectives. Are you on track? Why or why not? Based on those answers, you may need to make some adjustments to the objectives that you set at the beginning of the year.
Year end is the perfect time to reflect on and celebrate the year’s accomplishments and to plan for the objectives you want to set for next year. Identify specific things you’d like to change, set detailed and clear objectives, and you’ll have a great head start to improve your organization in 2019.
Your organization’s goals are spelled out in budget and planning documents. Those goals are usually established at the beginning of the year. At the end of the year, you see if the goals were achieved. Do you really want to wait until the year-end?
Probably not. Year-end is too late to find out whether goals were met.
Tracking established goals is the best approach to manage your organization’s progress and avoid getting knocked off course. Organizations achieve their goals with tracking mechanisms that address these four areas:
Result Areas – Think about what “success” looks like for your organization. Identify the outcomes, roles, and processes that are essential to achieving success. Result Areas may be specific to your industry or market. They can be financial, operational, or programmatic. Examples include achieving specific profit margins, quality standards, or market share.
Indicators and Attributes – Select the outcomes, roles, and processes that are necessary to achieve the established goals. There’s a lot going on in your organization, and you can’t track all of it. Focus on the essential activities that MUST work for each goal to be achieved. Identify the information needed to get a view of what’s going on, and whether things are working well or not, such as financial, production, and employee reports.
Collect and Report Data – Standard processes for collecting, tracking and reporting data helps ensure that information is reliable. Automation generally increases accuracy and makes it easier to obtain. Define “normal” profits, volumes, transactions, etc., to help recognize results that are abnormal, or “exceptions” that require more attention. Include all applicable stakeholders in defining normal vs. exception results.
Analyze and Act – Review tracking reports and interpret them based on circumstances and established goals. Analyzing trends can help organizations see an issue early, before it grows to a crisis. Exception results should be assessed in an effort to understand what is causing the exception. Knowing the cause of the exception helps to identify corrective actions help get things back on course.
Don’t wait until year-end to see of your organization’s goals were achieved. Use these four tracking mechanisms to manage your organization’s progress and stay on course.
Frequent readers know my opinion that workshops are a great way to get a lot of information in one place. Last week’s Fierce about Your Finances Expo, conducted by Financially Fierce, LLC, proved me right again. The Expo provided lots of financial information to plan for achieving your goals.
A Goal without a Plan is just a Dream.
Planning to achieve personal and business financial goals was the overall theme of the Expo. Participants were there to obtain useful information to start or augment her or his plans. Exhibitors (including me) shared her or his knowledge to help those plans along.
Topics at the Expo ranged from taxes (me again), to retirement, mortgages, and debt recovery. For all the topics, the Expo delivered three common messages about planning to achieve financial goals:
Establish Clear Goals
Determining what you want to accomplish, at what level, how, and by what date are essential to establish clear goals. Answering all those questions about what, how, and when also helps you track your progress and know when you’ve achieved your goals.
Do Your Research
Harness the information available at Expos, professional organizations, and networking groups. Seek out successful people and ask for guidance. Read books and publications. Attend conferences and events that offer the information necessary for your plan.
Adapt to Updates
New information and changing conditions make your plans change. Plans must be adapted based on new inputs and the learning that happens while you’re doing. Recognize the difference between adapting your plan and losing focus on your goals.
Adopting these three messages helps people and businesses to Plan for achieving their Goals, to keep those Goals from being just a Dream that never comes true.