By: TEC CEO mentor and executive coach Jerry Kleeman
For business leaders, the end of the calendar year is always a time that comes with a mix of relief at reaching the holiday season and excitement for the next 12 months. While this is when many traditional company functions slow down, it’s also when you need to be setting goals that can help to drive your organisation forward.
I think it’s really important for business leaders to always look ahead at this time and set targets, both for themselves and for their business as a whole.
With a little time off over the Christmas-New Years period, there’s no better time to put these goals into writing and come up with some New Year resolutions.
Starting with what’s important
Before you get into setting goals and objectives for 2016, it’s important to think about what you value as a business leader. A good place to start is by painting a picture – quite literally – of what greatness will look like for you in three, five or 10 year’s time.
If your picture involves you retiring and sitting on the beach, then that’s great – now you can start planning for it. If you want your business to grow rapidly, then you’ll need to be getting ready now to guide the organisation through a period of rapid change. Whatever it is, make sure you have that in your head and know what steps are involved in taking you on that journey.
Goals for you, goals for your business
It isn’t enough to just set goals for your business, I fundamentally believe that you also have to set personal goals for yourself, both as a leader and as a person. This last one is incredibly important – consider making goals around your well-being, exercise more and get more sleep and you will see the benefit in your productivity.
For each, set no more than three – writing up two pages of goals is a sure-fire way to ensure you don’t achieve any of them.
Across all three goal categories, I always recommend using the SMART framework – it might be a bit old-fashioned, but it’s a tried and true way of setting goals. If you aren’t familiar with the acronym, it breaks down as:
S – Specific.
M – Measurable.
A – Achievable.
R – Realistic.
T – Timeframe.
On this last point – I often think that a year is the best timeframe for these goals, but you should also break it down so you are achieving separate goals throughout that time.
You’ll need to get objective feedback on your goals from someone you can trust as well. If your goals aren’t aligned with where you want your business to head and whether they are achievable in the long-run then you need to be told before January 1.
Planning throughout the year
The last step in any New Year’s resolution, and the one where so many fail, is in actually doing what you’ve aimed to achieve. The best way I’ve found to make sure you stick to your goals is to make them part of your day – put them as your screensaver or write a note on your desk so you can’t get away from them.
Keep that person who critiqued your goals in the picture as well – they will be able to hold you to account throughout the year. Penciling time in at least every quarter to review your progress and take another look at that picture you drew is also a useful strategy.
Setting goals, having someone to hold you accountable and then making them a constant part of your schedule isn’t hard, and will set you up to achieve your goals for 2016, both professional and personal.