3 Ways to Prepare For Success in 2019
The holidays are here, and like so many others this time of year, I am trying to make the perfect holiday experience for family and friends, especially with this being our first holiday in Florida. (It takes a little getting used to wearing flip-flop sandals and shorts in mid-December!). Our sons will be home from college, other family and friends are coming and my wife already has this extravagant party planned. I have many tasks around the house prior to and during (and of course the cleaning afterwards) to help her with. Even with all her experience in throwing amazing parties there are still details to plan and tasks to execute.
Your business planning operates in much the same way. Strategic planning is like arranging a party. Your company vision, where you want to end up and what you need to do to be successful in the New Year has to be considered. In order to be successful, you need to take care of your P.E.T.
PET is an acronym I made up that means, Planning, Execution and Teamwork.
With the holidays here and a slight decrease in the hectic pace, now is the best time to take stock of the past 12 months, gauge your successes and challenges and begin your checklist for 2019. It’s time to assess what’s worked in your business this year and make plans to be even more successful next year.
The end of the year is the perfect time for a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, followed by a strategic planning session. A SWOT provides a logical framework for understanding how your business runs. It tells you what you’re doing right (and wrong) and predicts what outside forces could impact your financial viability in a positive (or negative) manner. This allows you to determine where your business is in comparison to the SWOT from the previous year (you did that, right?) and utilize it to complete your yearly strategic plan.
One of my friends was a highly decorated Marine sniper. At the peak of his career, he was tasked with training and working with the CIA and other paramilitary operators that would be conducting a joint operation with his Marine team. He told me that they would spend hours over a literal sandbox planning every single detail and every possible contingency. They built a mockup of a town and planned and practiced for weeks until the event and although the mission didn’t go completely by their plan, it was successful.
Although we all know that business is not a life and death matter, for those of us in leadership positions, it sure can feel like it, huh? Planning is crucial to the success of any mission. Shooting a bad guy, opening a new branch, increasing profit, reducing turnover, hiring the right people…any mission.
What makes a SWOT analysis so powerful is that, with just a little effort, it can help you uncover opportunities your business is poised to exploit. The great Jack Welch, former Chairman of the Board and CEO for GE back when GE was a successfully run enterprise, once said, “Buy or bury the competition.” To do that, you must have an understanding of the weaknesses of your business, so you can mitigate or eliminate threats that you might otherwise not be aware of.
When working within a realistically completed SWOT, you will have identified a set of items that you can create actionable items from. Following this analysis with a planning strategy session will help define those roles, and set clear goals and expectations. My sniper friend Rob would say, being the best shot in the world doesn’t matter if you don’t know where you are aiming. BTW, did you know that the longest successful shot made on a target by a sniper is 3,871 meters? That’s about 2.19 miles! That takes a lot of planning, sandboxing, aiming, “what if’ing and what not’ing” to make a shot like that!
SMART is an acronym for a goal creation checklist that is often used in both business and academia. Anything pushed down from higher can be put through this exercise so you can also give feedback back up the chain if the goals are not ultimately your decision.
In an article for The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Robert Rubin stated that SMART has come to mean different things to different people, as shown below. (Read the article here SIOP )
To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be:
Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
Achievable (agreed, attainable).
Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
Professor Rubin also notes that the definition of the SMART acronym may need updating to reflect the importance of efficacy and feedback. There are experts that have expanded it to include extra focus areas; SMARTER, for example, includes Evaluated and Reviewed.
You have now set your business up to win with a solid strategy metrics for the next year. Now with some prioritizing, you are ready to execute your findings into growing your business.
Start. Middle. Finish. These are the basics to any plan, however we all know people in business and in life that have big ideas and never get the idea off the ground. Those are interesting people to chat with at holiday parties but the conversations goes nowhere. Or there are people who enjoy the energy and “high” from starting something but when the dreariness of the middle of execution comes in and the goal is too far reaching, they start something new before ending the last task, an endless cycle that means that nothing huge and arduous really ever gets completed. I have seen business owners take the time to put together a great business plan and strategy, but they are just checking a box and just don’t follow through with it.
In order to execute flawlessly against your business goals, please go that last very important step in the execution phase and make sure to brief the entire team before commencing the newly created business plan. The entire team needs to be on the same page and it’s up to owners and leaders to get them on that page. And speaking of team, or more important to your success, teamwork, that’s the last step in having a successful 2019.
Teamwork. While year-end HR processes are in full throttle, smart leaders take time to recognize their people and plant the seeds of success for next year. One of the best ways to improve business execution is to increase employee performance levels.
Successful employees and successful teamwork start with engagement. By engaging with your team, and bringing them in on your strategy session, you are creating effective teams. Effective teams have several characteristics in common, like clear directions, expectations, and goals. They also share their successes and their failures.
When you hold a strategy session, or SWOT analysis, and involve your employees in the process, you are showing them you value their opinions and believe their engagement in the process is what makes your business successful. The session nurtures teamwork and collaboration because it brings the entire company together to focus and reconnect on what they’re all working toward together. Every player on your team will have a different insight into your yearly planning session, but frankly, what is more important is having their buy-in to your company strategy.
For example, every player on a football team knows their job is different than their teammates’ job, but each player needs to visualize and buy into their role to help the team win. An open strategy session gives your employees a chance to connect their jobs to the big win; it helps employees feel like part of a team. It all comes back to focusing on similarities instead of differences, inclusive and diverse workplace cultures, with strong leadership, clear cut goals and a “we win together” attitude is ALWAYS the best approach. I often sign off my emails and correspondences by saying, “Together We Win” and I do this because “Individually We Lose”. Think about that comment for a moment, is this an accurate statement or inaccurate statement? I have yet to meet any one person here on earth who is stronger, faster, better, more successful than an entire team can be. Think about that statement just one last time now. Teamwork wins the year for you and your team.
Keep in mind a strategy is there to help you to sharpen your focus. Don’t just create a plan. Execute the plan utilizing your team’s strengths. Study the metrics from your team’s execution of the actionable items you gave them.
Use these three strategies to realign your future year planning. With a little planning, proper execution, and solid teamwork, your company can stay the course for continued growth, profit and success in 2019.
Together We Win!
Your Staffing Partner, Darrin Rohr- President, CEO and Chief Servant
Current owner of HH Staffing and Former Chief HR Officer for several successful Multinational Fortune 500 Companies. Brings fresh perspective from decades of experiences creating Great Workplace Cultures by building high performance teams while leading and managing people from all different backgrounds. HH Staffing is headquartered in Sarasota, Florida and is uniquely positioned to serve both local and national clients.