‘Tis the Season indeed as Strategic Partner, Diane Janovsky reminds us of the pace of the Holiday Season and how quickly the New Year will be upon us. In business, this is a time to pause and reflect. Diane shares some great ideas about how to get focused on the coming year, even in such a busy time.
Living in Arizona, I look forward to late October because it usually marks the start of cooler weather. I do hate it when Halloween is over, partly because the fun decorations at our house come down, and I lose my plausible excuse for having a huge bag of those bite-sized chocolate candies in the pantry! Mostly, though, I shudder to turn the calendar page to November because it seems like we blink and, in no time at all, it’s Thanksgiving and then Christmas, and then a new year is upon us!
For business owners and leaders, it’s even more of a challenging season. Finishing strong in the current year is always a priority, and it’s tempting to wait until after the holidays (or later) to plan for next year. Rather than giving in to that temptation, the time is now to establish goals, budgets and initiatives in order to hit the ground running on January 1.
The starting place for planning is to understand performance for the current year. Ideally, companies should have a monthly process to review plan vs. actual for the operative goals that drive the execution of the business. Ongoing reviews help avoid unpleasant surprises and allow leadership to put corrective action in place before it’s too late. However, it’s also valuable to analyze financial and operational results from an annual perspective in order to identify the impact of seasonality or trends and decide what adjustments may be needed.
In addition to looking at those more tactical metrics, the end of the year is the perfect time to take a step back and holistically evaluate the organization’s progress toward fulfilling its long-term strategic goals relative to Purpose, Vision, Mission and Values. This is important because the most successful companies are not only profitable, but they manage to stay connected to their reason for being and they are conscious of the broader impact they have on the world.
The senior leadership team should ask these questions:
- Does our organization have a clearly defined and articulated Higher Purpose that goes beyond simply making money for shareholders?
- Did that Higher Purpose drive everything we did this year, including how we interacted with customers, suppliers, employees, our community and the environment?
- Is our Vision a compelling view of how the world can look as we work toward our Higher Purpose?
- What progress have we made this year in achieving our Vision? How can we move faster and more effectively?
- Does our Mission statement accurately reflect what we do and how we do it in support of our Higher Purpose and Vision?
- Did we take action consistent with our Mission statement this past year? Where did we fall down? How can we do better?
- Do we have a non-negotiable set of Values that are modeled by senior leadership and are well understood at all levels?
- Did we behave according to our Values this past year? If not, why not? What do we need to do differently?
Doing this type of assessment can identify fundamental issues with the alignment of people and culture, and provide profound insights on changes that are needed to take performance to the next level in coming years.