Many of us will be in the process of carrying out quarterly reviews, checking budgets and revenue progress and making sure we are on track for delivering our 2017 goals and objectives. At this point in the year, it’s also a great time to check back on your bigger plans, strategy and vision and make sure that you are on track. But why bother?
As we progress through the year, we are often sinking into detail, and we may be loosing sight of the greater goals that we were aiming for during the course of 2017. Also, it is still early enough in the year to do some course correction. But how should you approach this? Having spent considerable time and effort planning for the year ahead, here’s a few tips on sanity checking your progress, and getting yourself back on track to achieve your strategy as well as deliver on your goals and objectives.
Re-read your strategy every month! If you’ve written a strategy, it shouldn’t just be filed away. It’s a road map, a reference point and a guide. It’s incredibly satisfying to see where you’ve made progress, and a great way to raise red flags if you are drifting too far from your desired outcome. Action plans can be such a distraction, because they are more prescriptive. They define HOW you will do something, and not necessarily the outcome you were trying to achieve. Referring back to your strategy will give you the full picture.
What if stuff has changed? Have you picked up a new team, or had changes to your responsibilities? Very few of us have the luxury of a consistent team and consistent expectations and no changes throughout the year. Whilst goals and objectives are linked to the calendar, cadences in our businesses often aren’t. If you’ve had significant change in the way you work, who you work with or what you are working on, it’s important to step back from the detail and add in the new variables to your strategy. Does it change priorities? Do you need to re-work your objectives? Who else do you need to engage in the changes? Make the course-correction now so that you focus on what matters the most.
Oh no, I’ve headed down a rabbit warren! OK, so you’ve found yourself obsessing over a component of your job, that has become a distraction. Realising that you’ve spent too much time on one aspect or action is not a bad thing. You’ve learned a lesson! Having spent years working in call centres and customer service, it’s a place I have found myself in the past. For example, I’ve obsessed over how to reduce repeat calls from customers by tweaking agent scripts and IVRs, rather than stepping back to determine how to remove the need for the customer to call in the first place. Use this time to question why you are doing a particular action, whether you measure it, and if will it deliver your desired outcome.
Too much on your plate? We’ve all bitten off more than we can chew at various points in our career. Whether through excessive ambition, over eagerness or a fear of admitting you can’t do everything. So if you’re in this boat, now is a great time to re-evaluate. Your peers and stakeholders may be frustrated, but better to have a conversation now and agree a new set of priorities, or hand off an action to someone else to ensure that everything gets done. We are all part of a team, functioning as a unit to make our businesses successful, so don’t let pride get in the way of acknowledging that you’ve got too much on your plate. This could be a great opportunity to empower a team member with extra responsibility to let them step forward and take on a new responsibility, too.
Creating team alignment. Sometimes it’s worth pulling together your team (especially if they are newly formed, or work in different locations) to get alignment around your & their goals. Each of my teams has very different objectives, SLAs and measures, but at the same time, as Customer Experience Leader, I have a clear vision on what the overall delivery should be. We’re taking time out to share our plans, then discuss alignment and conflict. We’ll then create a shared plan to leverage different skills, drive progress on common goals and avoid conflict or wasted effort. It really can be an eye-opener. Don’t assume that everyone in your team knows everything in your head. Bring people together to verify you are all facing the same direction.
Don’t forget to communicate! Once you’ve refreshed, tweaked, realigned and updated your plans, actions, goals and objectives, it’s terribly important to communicate the updates to interested parties. This means upwards (your boss), across (your peers) and downwards (your teams.) Make sure that you have a clear and simple way to communicate any changes ( and why) to show you are in control, and on track to delivering all your goals and objectives as well as progressing your strategy.
Hopefully, like me you’re now feeling properly invigorated to charge forward with the rest of the year, but if not, why not try out some of these tips?