New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for individuals — they can work as a motivational tool for businesses as well. Whether your fiscal year falls in line with the calendar year or not, the New Year can be an excellent time to evaluate the past and set goals for the future.
If you want to set achievable goals for your company going forward, you’re going to need to start by looking backward. Analyzing your company’s performance — both internally and externally — over the last twelve months can provide an awareness of data, indicators, successes, and failures, all of which can heavily influence your future goals.
Specific things to look for include:
- Where you didn’t meet your past goals
- Where you did meet your past goals
- Any changes within your industry that could affect how you operate moving forward
A healthy company starts with a harmonious staff and smoothly running internal operations. Things like teamwork, communication, positive leadership, and empowerment all contribute to outward success. Begin your analysis of the past by taking a good, hard look at the internal elements of your company.
Here are a few factors to keep in mind as you evaluate your internal operations:
- Have you met your hiring goals this year? If not, it can have a cascading effect in the year to come.
- Have you maintained effective internal communication? Poor communication between coworkers can be debilitating.
- Have you addressed outdated equipment needs? If your employees aren’t equipped with the right tools, it can undercut their efforts.
- Have you kept the budget balanced? An unbalanced budget is never sustainable and should be addressed as soon as possible.
- Can you improve or refocus your R&D efforts? If you’re not investing in the future, your company will eventually begin to fall apart.
There are numerous additional considerations, many of which will be specific to your industry and should be researched as such. The important thing is to seriously consider every aspect that is critical to the efficiency of your internal operations.
Of course, even a prize ship with a well-trained crew won’t be of much use if it sits in the dock. At some point, it needs to hit the high seas. Once you’ve taken stock of your internal affairs, it’s time to analyze what your company has accomplished “on the high seas” during this past year.
Much like the internal considerations, the specifics of your external efforts will vary depending on the size of your company, your industry, your geographic location, and so on.A few considerations that tend to universally apply to all companies include:
- Have you met your revenue objectives?
- Have you maintained or increased your market share?
- Have you increased your brand awareness?
- Has your marketing been effective?
- Have you maintained a positive PR relationship with your customers?
Once you have a firm grasp of where you succeeded and where you fell short in the past year, it’s time to create goals for the year to come. Each goal should be carefully considered.
If, for instance, you found that you fell behind on your sales quotas, don’t expect your sales team to simply make it up on top of new quotas in the next year. Come up with a plan that takes into consideration why they failed to reach the goal, what they can do to address the issue, and where they are reasonably expected to go over the course of the new year.
It’s also critical that you create milestones within larger goals along with ways to track your progress. Strictly analyzing your progress only once a year is a surefire way to end up failing to meet your goals by the time that annual checkup rolls around again.
The way you set your goals will need to be thoughtfully tailored to your individual situation. Take into consideration the information you learned when you gathered data from the past year, and then set goals that will reinforce the successes and address the shortcomings.
For instance, if you found that your current employees required extra training, you may want to conduct a skill gap analysis and then find training programs that can help meet the need over the next year.
If you found that your staff was dissatisfied with their work, you may want to set new HR goals that focus on boosting employee morale or upgrade your hiring process. You could also provide more perks and incentives in order to attract and retain better talent in the upcoming year.
Externally, if you found that your brand awareness was subpar, you may want to set a goal of increasing your social media strategy, working with influencers within your niche, or investing in PPC ads.
Tips for Implementing Change
Whatever the specific goals are, it’s important that you set them up in a way that makes them attainable. If they’re too far out of reach, you may end up quitting before you even get to your next annual analysis.
Here are a few tips for implementing changes and setting your goals:
- Consider (and communicate) the journey: It’s easy to set a goal and leave it for your staff to figure out how to accomplish it. However, if you want to set achievable goals, you must go a bit further. It’s critical that everyone doesn’t just see the finish line, but also understands how you plan to get there.
- Always be facilitating: Leadership should always ensure that the infrastructure, training, and personnel is in place in order to achieve the goals that are set.
- Personalize goals whenever possible: Company-wide goals are important, but when these can be translated into personalized objectives — for instance, “we need to communicate better, so I want you, John, to take charge in making sure everyone is using our new video-conferencing software…” — it will help provide a sense of professional pride in meeting objectives.
- Reset goals as you go: Never be afraid to recalibrate as the year unfolds. If you find that the goal to increase your market share by 7% is unattainable, reset it to 4% in July before your staff gives up on it entirely and you lose your momentum.
Finding Success This Year
Setting goals is a crucial element to sustained success. However, if these goals are unrealistic, they can do more harm than good. Focusing on specific, attainable goals is a key to good leadership. It gives employees and employers alike the ability to visualize what success looks like and help them stay focused on a shared objective.
As the year wraps up, take stock of your situation, create achievable internal and external goals, and then communicate them to your leadership and team members. The knowledge will be empowering and will initiate momentum as the new year kicks off.
About the Author: Sam Bowman writes about people, tech, wellness and how they merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.