Starting a new year typically brings excitement about new plans and strategies. But never forget that solid growth springs from a sturdy platform of fundamental business practices.
Make Accountability More Visible and Less Comfortable
No doubt about it, accountability is great -- whether it's built into the job by specific measurements or whether it happens by confronting colleagues or supervisors to discuss your goals and progress toward them.
But after a time, with some people, this routine standard of accountability grows stale and safe. That is, people become comfortable with confessing, "Okay, so I didn't give it my best shot. I goofed. So what?"
To avoid this comfort level with "accountability," raise the stakes in the new year. For example:
- Make your accountability visible to a wider audience.
- Put the sales numbers up so that everyone in the office sees them.
- Announce your goals on X project to family and friends -- and give them regular progress reports at predefined dates.
- Publish your goals and weekly stats.
A sense that people are watching and cheering you on can be highly motivating to do your best work.
Make the Numbers Add Up
Reasons abound for spending time and resources on pet projects or products:
- It's good exposure.
- "They" expect it.
- We've always done it. There would be speculation about why we stopped.
- The PR aspects are beneficial.
- It's fun.
"The numbers don't lie" has become a cliché for good reason. It's true.
That's NOT to say that "fun" or "PR" or "exposure" is unworthy of spending time or hard-earned dollars on something. But it is to say, "Don't lie to yourself about the cost or effort or risk to your overall brand and profitability."
If you're set on undertaking a pet project or keeping a mediocre product line alive for any of the above reasons, then find a way to make the numbers work. How can you be intentionally smart about the effort so that in addition to serving your non-financial interests, you at least do not lose money or jeopardize other projects or goals?
Yes, there are technology startups selling for bazillions of dollars before they turn a profit. If that's the decision you're grappling with, go for it. Make your deal. I'm talking to others outside that category here on the planet who need to go home at the end of the year with money in their pocket.
Bottom-line: Reexamine "reasons" that don't add up -- and make them. Really.
Reduce Your Planning Cycle
Many organizations start the year with grandiose goals, but end with fatal failures -- or at best, feeble attempts. As with dieters who always find it easier to start on that diet tomorrow, employees sometimes find it easier to push off those long-term goals until it's too late to make them happen.
In a rapidly changing economic and political state of affairs, it makes sense to reduce plans to short, predictable time periods that seem more easily controllable: schedules that you can control, suppliers that can accurately predict their capacity and pricing, customers who can project their needs.
The shorter the time from plan to completion, generally the higher the morale.
Whether you're involved in sports, the sciences, or the arts, whatever you plan to achieve this year, build from a solid foundation of best practices -- these three and your own.