A New Year is rapidly approaching and many of us are inclined to turn our thoughts to fresh starts and setting goals. At this time of year, we are encouraged to make resolutions that we hope will inspire us to get focused, quit bad habits, distance ourselves from negative people and develop a structure that will become a launching pad for a positive and prosperous New Year. An Action Plan can be an especially useful tool to guide and encourage the process.
To get started, revisit your long-term goals—maybe you developed those last December or January?—and pick three that stand out as priorities deserving of your attention in the near term. They will become your focus goals. Ideally, you will select goals that can substantively impact the success of your personal and/or professional life. Examples of potentially useful professional focus goals include:
- Operational changes that streamline how your business delivers services
- Customer service changes, such as billing system improvements
- Hiring an intern or an employee, as a means to increase productivity and revenues
- Lead generation initiatives, such as a monthly newsletter or weekly blog
- Marketing campaign designed to enhance sales or up-selling opportunities
I suggest that you limit your focus goals to a maximum of three, so as not to overwhelm yourself. The idea is to make a positive impact on your organization within 90 days.
If you have in your employ a leadership team that shares in decision-making, be certain to include them in the selection of focus goals. It is important to include other perspectives when determining which goals will be prioritized. Moreover, the Action Plan will be less successful if you fail to involve the leadership team and obtain buy-in for its aims and implementation.
Once you and your team have determined the focus goals, agree upon which outcomes will constitute their successful achievement. What will signal that you’ve crossed the finish line? Those outcomes will become your success criteria, milestones that can be objectively and quantitatively measured.
Give yourself two to four success criteria for each of your focus goals. Examples of first-rate and quantifiable markers of success could include:
- An assignment from a new client
- A marketing campaign that has been launched
- A new operational efficiency that is in place
- An employee or intern who has agreed to`a start date
- A process to bring in new, high-ranking leads that is ready to roll-out
Identify also one key performance indicator (KPI) for each focus goal, so that it can easily be confirmed that you’re on track to meet that goal and as well give you time to consider refinements to your Action Plan, if needed.
For example, if hiring an intern or employee is a focus goal, then completing the first round of interviews with three or four candidates by a given date would make a useful KPI. If improvements in your billing system would involve the purchase of new software, the purchase of that software by a given date would represent a quantifiable KPI.
The last step in the development of your one page Action Plan is to create action steps for the focus goals and choose reasonable completion dates. Consider what you can or must do to substantively impact each one. Then, with your leadership team, decide who will “own” and assume responsibility for carrying out each action step.
Thanks for reading,