We’re now in December and the new year is just around the corner. This makes for the perfect time to look back on how your business performed in 2019 and check if you achieved the goals you had planned. At advertio, we’re also taking this opportunity to look back, understand what didn’t go as planned and start setting new goals for 2020.
Here are a few tips on what you can do:
#1 — Understand what didn’t go as planned
When planning the following year, it’s normal to miss a few deadlines or milestones. Yet, it’s important to understand why they failed so you don’t make the same mistake again.
There are many different reasons for failing, some of them being
Setting unrealistic goals: sometimes we are so invested in our business that we believe we can do more than we actually can. This may lead to our setting unrealistic goals which we are doomed from the start to miss. To avoid this, make sure you plan things in advance and update your schedule when you feel that you need more time to get things done.
Technology is always evolving: depending on your business sector you may be dependent on a certain technology and that can have a direct effect on your deliverables. For example, when working with Artificial Intelligence, you should always plan for a few delays as this technology is not yet 100% reliable.
Murphy’s law: sometimes it seems that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong”, meaning that there are times when life just gets in the way and no amount of planning could have prepared you enough not to fail. With that in mind, you should try and create goals that are flexible enough to take account of minor unfortunate events.
#2 — Get your team involved
Unless you run a one-person business, you should definitely include your team in this conversation. As the CEO or manager of a company you might have a perspective on how the year went, but your team can provide different insights or points of view that you have not considered and which could impact your results.
Before gathering the team together, first prepare for the conversation by asking yourself
What are you trying to analyse? You could be calling the team to see what their perspective is on the year’s overall productivity, sales, company culture etc.
Should you sit down with the whole team or divide them by department? This may not apply to smaller companies, but if you are managing a big team you may want to schedule separate conversations with different departments to make sure everyone has the chance to speak their mind.
What will you be asking them? Try writing down a few guideline questions for your team so they know what you are trying to understand and let them answer freely. By providing questions, you can still have some control over the conversation and get the answers you are looking for while allowing them to have an informal talk.
#3 — Don’t undermine the positives
While it’s true you should consider what went wrong, you should definitely also look at what went well. At advertio we take pride in what we’ve achieved in 2019 and, despite having missed a few milestones or internal goals along the way, we like to focus on the net positives.
Why? Because this helps us understand what we did correctly and how we planned for those goals, and to learn from them in order to try to replicate them in all departments. Also, when you’ve been working for an entire year to achieve something and your team put time and effort into all their tasks, you should be confident that you did all you could.
When thinking about the positives, it’s also good to keep in mind
Your team: although there is no specific time to thank your team for their effort and work, the end of the year may be a good opportunity for you to do so. You could take this time to thank them and let them know what they did well and what can be improved. You should also share the year’s overall performance with them so that they are up to date with how things are going.
Different ways of planning: when you look at what went well or even better than expected, you should try to see if you did something different from the times that things went wrong. Did you planned those tasks differently? Or was it just a matter of life getting in the way? This can help you improve for the future.
#4 — Analyse, take it in and move forward
Once you’ve analysed all aspects you think are important about the previous year, it’s time to move forward. Don’t dwell too much on what went wrong but rather on why it happened so you don’t repeat the same mistakes. Once you know why you made them, it will probably be much easier to plan ahead and deal with any possible setbacks along the way.
When planning for 2020, you should
Define an overall achievement: this should be something you really want to accomplish by December of 2020. Is it entering a new market? Creating a whole different product? Or maybe it’s about reaching a certain sales figure. Either way, this should be your overall goal and the main driver to keep you pushing for your best throughout the year.
Start with the first quarter: after knowing what you want to achieve, then it’s time to start planning how to get there. Start by planning the first three months of the year and see how they go; in March go back to planning and sketch out the next quarter. That way you’ll be able to correct mistakes and narrow down the path to your final goal.
Once you’ve done this, enjoy the holidays and get ready for January because the bottom line is: Murphy’s law will (probably) strike again, but this time you’ll be prepared for it!
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