2016 is almost over--2017 will be here in less than 90 days!
If I was to ask you "Was 2016 a productive year?", how would you answer? And better yet, would you be able to answer with actual evidence of the year's performance?
The answer to that might lie in how well you have set goals, identified markers, and set a timeline to track and measure your success.
One tool that has helped many Wilson & Associates clients increase performance and measure results is a simple action plan. While a strategic plan might both evaluate your organization across many criteria and make recommendations on what key strategies the organization should implement to be on target with the mission and vision, an action plan should capture your goals for the immediate future, as well as the tasks you will accomplish within a specific timeframe.
A “pro-tip” I like to provide to my clients is to split the year into quarters, just like the business sector does.
Planning and goal-setting in quarters enables you take an overwhelming goal and break it into 4 digestible bites. Challenges and successes can be evaluated at the end of each quarter, and course-corrections can be made more quickly then waiting for a year-end review. And, as you know, four successful quarters leads to a successful year.
Here are my Pro-Tips
1. Set goals for the next 30, 60, and 90 days.
Example goal: Ensure meeting are effective and results-focused.
Example goal: Create a strategic plan for the community partnership by June 2017.
Example goal: Develop a performance measurement tool.
2. Create strategies to help you reach those goals.
After Step 1, you’ll know what you want to achieve. You have the “big picture” idea, but you need to figure out what you will actually do. A strategy is just another way of asking what tasks or activities you think you can do to help you reach that goal.
So, if your goal was to have more effective planning meetings. You might want to ask yourself what can you do to make the meetings more effective. One strategy might be to set a clear start and end time for the meeting. Another strategy might be to create a results-based agenda. Another strategy might be to track all decisions made in a meeting and create a post-meeting summary that lists that decisions and action items that emerged from the meeting.
How will you measure your success for each of these goals? You don’t need to be a seasoned evaluator to measure your progress toward goal completion. But, you do need to identify “indicators” or “metrics” you can use to measure your success.
For the “more effective meetings” example listed in this article, some metrics that you might employ are:
Total number of meetings
Total number of meetings that used agendas
Number of action items that were accomplished between meetings
Number of times meetings ended on time
Participant feedback/evaluation of meetings
4. Consider Weekly Action Plans to Compliment Your Monthly and Quarterly Action Plans.
Sometimes clients find it valuable to outline goals for the month and then make a monthly action plan. Some like to distill those monthly tasks into weekly action plans. These individuals are essentially saying “What do I need to do this week, next week, and the weeks after that to make sure I have a successful month.” And, 3 successful months equals a successful quarter, and four successful quarters equates to a very successful year!
5. You don’t have to do this alone!
Consider building “Guiding and Design Teams”. If you have goals that require interdepartmental support, build a “guiding and design” team. This team can be both thought partners and and the working team that will not only help you design strategies, but also help you do the work that leads to successful goal accomplishment.
6. Celebrate the Wins!
Don’t forget about the rewards! Too often we fail to celebrate the little accomplishments along the way. Last year, I worked with a wonderful organization that had a lot of “mini wins” that were paving their way to a BIG WIN! They got so caught up in the distance from where they were to where they wanted to be that they couldn’t see how many wonderful things they had accomplished. You should build rewards into your action plan. Meaning, “If we accomplish Strategy #1, we will all get X”. Building in rewards helps incentivize you and your teams, and it helps you remember to celebrate the wins!