Best Practices


With the onset of 2016 it is time to look back at last year and to get organized and motivated for the New Year.
If you have adopted some form of annual goals process, its time to assess how you did with respect to your personal goals, your department goals and your overall company goals. Hopefully you had in place SMART goals for 2015 – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. If this is the case, then you should be able to objectively assess your level of achievement against each one.
It is a good practice to review with your group or your department the outcome of the goals process. This allows you to recognize those individuals or groups who achieved or exceeded the goals, as well as highlight more generally where the goals were not achieved and why. This of course assumes you have a good understanding of the why behind any shortcomings; if not, you may want to set up a meeting or a workshop to break down the situation and come to a common understanding of what happened and how the situation can be improved. This is especially important if the goal is ongoing into this new year. You may want to put out a memo or a newsletter summarizing the goals outcome and what it means for the company.
The turning of a new year is also a great time to ensure that you and your staff have done performance assessments for your employees. I am a believer in an annual process of this sort, with documentation for both parties to review and acknowledge. This process doesnt have to be overly bureaucratic or time consuming, but I do believe it important to give feedback and ensure that it is understood.
It is also timely to ensure that recognition has been handed out for the most important or most notable achievements. This recognition can be for individuals, for groups or even for the whole company, depending upon the achievement. You may want to include spouses or family members in the recognition ceremony if the achievement was especially notable or difficult. Such ceremonies can be remembered for years to come.
Turning now to 2016, it is critical to start the year off right by putting in place your new goals, plans, meeting structure and schedule. If you have a team, gather them to discuss and agree on your 2016 goals – with measurements, resourcing plans and timelines – and get these endorsed by your supervisor as well. If your company has a cascading goals process, ensure that this is an efficient process so that goals are set up and agreed upon as early as possible. You may want to share your goals with other departments if your objectives are going to require them to contribute, and similarly you may want to acquire and review others goals if your department has a significant role to play.
It is helpful for every individual in the company to understand the top company goals and metrics as well, so that they can see their part in the delivery of the whole.
With regard to meeting schedules, I suggest focusing on the first six months of 2016 and putting in place the schedule for key company and team meetings. If these are regular events, be sure to consider whether these meetings are working for you and your team, or whether you need to change them up in some way. Do you want to use a meeting to engage with another team or part of the company? This probably needs to be set up way in advance. Consider too whether you really need so many meetings, as they are costly both in dollars and time. Everyone will thank you if you can live with fewer meetings.
While you are working on your calendar, be sure to block out key personal activities that you want others to respect and work around, whether these be childrens sports activities, your gym workout or a vacation you have booked. While there is no guarantee that these will be viewed as sacrosanct, they certainly have no chance at all if they are not on your calendar.
This is also a perfect time to think about your work relationships and how you want to stay in touch with people during the year. Consider setting up regular phone, video or face-to-face sessions with each of your direct reports. You can always choose to cancel one of these if both sides feel that the time could be better spent. These sessions can be particularly valuable if your direct reports are remotely located or if travel schedules are heavy. Think about other colleagues, such as peers and of course your boss, who could also benefit from a regular check-in schedule. This can be especially useful if you are working together on some significant goal or project, or if there is a colleague with whom you want an improved working relationship.
If you are in sales or customer service (or procurement), think about which customers or suppliers you specifically want or need to see during 2016, and start to plan these out. Having an early picture of these can assist in developing the most efficient travel plans for all. Be sure to schedule in any industry meetings or social/sporting events which you may want to utilize for business entertainment as well.
You should definitely start off the New Year with a meeting with your own supervisor to make sure you are on the same page with regard to last years outcome, and the plans for 2016. What specific personal areas does your boss want you to work on this year? What areas do you want to work on, and what help or input might you want from your own boss or peers? What training in 2016 will help you qualify for higher level or broader responsibilities?
Getting the New Year started off right will set you up for success!
Sara Lefcourt of Lefcourt Consulting LLC specializes in helping companies to improve profits, reduce risk and step up their operations. Her experience includes many years in marketing, sales and procurement, first for Exxon and then at Infineum, where she was vice president, supply. E-mail her at saralefcourt@ or phone (908) 400-5210.

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