New years bring new dreams and goals for many – employees, managers, organizations, and people in general.
In particular with organizations, you have on one hand, employees getting caught up in the “this is gonna be our year!” hype. On the other hand, you have fiery, inspirational leaders oftentimes biting off more than they can chew, making end-of-the-year promises the employees can’t realistically keep. And to top it all off, everyone waited until 2013 to plan for 2013, setting everyone in the organization up for disappointment and unnecessary stress.
When the pep rally has ended and the confetti settles, teams are faced with conference-room dry erase boards full of lofty objectives. What’s missing are the actual steps, or quarterly milestones to help reach the December 31st deadline.
So instead of trying to get the whole dollar at once, we must remember that large goals can and should be be divided into smaller, equal parts. Quarters.
Take a look at a quarter – the coin this time, not three (3) months on a calendar. Inscribed on every coin are the words, “E pluribus unum”, which in Latin means “Out of many, one”. While the intent behind this phrase probably had nothing to do with performance or organizational planning, the lesson I took from the ashtray of my truck was that the only way to tackle the many objectives written on those white boards were to attack them one at a time.
Is your company trying to fully implement new policies and procedures by the end of Quarter 1; well, you’ve started too late. But if you’re still determined to make some change, take a hard look at your existing manual. Engage managers and staff now, and find ways to make current procedures more effective and efficient; make smaller, immediate impacts. Make overhauls when you’ve planned better, not just because of a New Year’s Eve epiphany.
As an organization, you want to increase employee retention by the end of Quarter 2; don’t jump straight to engagement initiatives and routine picnics no one comes to. Plan small focus groups and interviews early in the year to uncover the true wants of your employees. Then organize a small task force (staff & management) to help plan and implement one initiative at a time. When June arrives, notice the difference that’s been made from not throwing the “employee fun” kitchen sink at employees.
Want to increase profits by the end of Quarter 3; an all out blitz to sell or produce more may do more harm than good to morale and the bottom line. Audit smaller processes by asking, “Are we collecting what we’re charging? Is everything being coded correctly? Why does the accounting dude never want me looking at stuff?” Small foundational fixes will help you to see smaller, immediate financial victories along the way.
Employee performance scorecard averages need to go up 10% by year-end? It won’t happen overnight. Sustainable improvement comes from deliberate and personal coaching and development; while setting reasonable and attainable stretch goals along the way. Identify one gap and coach that behavior. Next month, use that newfound success to fill in the next behavioral void and so on until the performance metric has taken care of itself by year end.
To Pay it in the End
Leaders must stop setting goals like they only plan on being in business for one year. Rushing, burning out employees and overwhelming your workforce will lead to the organization closing by the end of Quarter 4. Some plans take years to formulate, others be can put together coming up on the elevator, but nonetheless we must respect the planning process and realize that like Rome wasn’t built in a day, all dollars are made up of smaller pieces of change.