Ditch Year-End Business Dread: Planning Steps + a Solution That Works!
Here it comes…the end of the year, it’s right around the corner. Which means it’s already time for next year’s business planning… that critical process that will help you and your organization set the stage for 2024 and beyond.
Do you dread business planning? If so, you’re not alone. Lots of leaders don’t love it either. But in coaching leaders and companies for 60+ years, we’ve seen time and again that, done right, year-end business planning can transform into an inspiring, exciting experience not just for leadership, but the organization at large, especially when it’s tied to positive results.
Ready to jump in? Here are several tips to kickstart annual planning:
Professionalize Your Process. Business planning shouldn’t be a random, one-day event. It’s a well-defined process that starts early in Q4 with reviewing your past approach and what can be streamlined or improved. For example, consider what new planning tools, solutions or expertise can be brought into the process to facilitate meetings, data analysis, and writing the plan itself. What did you do last year that worked and you want to repeat? What didn’t you do, or need to avoid or add in this go around? When it comes to annual planning, it can be tempting to “rinse and repeat.” But that doesn’t necessarily net great results. So give the process a good look and determine what needs to change to up this year’s planning game.
Write a Great Plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated. But business planning does need to reflect that you’ve explored the past (year), assessed the present, and designed the future for your organization/the vision of success you want to achieve. Your plans should clearly define the strategies and supporting action plans that tie to monthly and quarterly goals, assigning due dates. Get the help of your team, asking for different staff to contribute to the plan so they’re invested and on board with everything, from the planning vision down to strategic due dates.
Add Accountability to Your Plan. Accountability is where the plan gets its teeth, as in takes life beyond simple words on a paper. Start by assigning responsibilities to individuals or teams and ensure that everyone understands their role in executing the plan. Then make it clear that you’ll use regular check-ins and progress reports to monitor how well your organization is meeting its objectives, keeping in mind that open communication and transparency are key in addressing any challenges or roadblocks that may arise. When everyone is accountable for their actions, the chances of success increase significantly.
Use Metrics and Transparency to Reinforce and Drive Results: Establish key metrics that align with the goals you and your team have set, then commit to track them throughout the year. Share performance data with your team regularly, highlighting successes (and the people and teams behind the wins) and identifying areas that need improvement. Transparency and reinforcement fosters vital trust and keeps everyone focused on achieving the desired results.