Happy September! Summer is de facto over, even if Labor Day Weekend is as late as possible this year. We are back to business as of today. There is one month left in the third quarter. Start your estimated tax form today and mail it no later than the 15th. Then for your next project, lay the groundwork for a strong finish to the year and develop an Action Plan that you can roll out as the fourth quarter rolls in.
To get started, revisit your long-term goals—maybe you developed those last December or January?—and pick three that stand out as priorities that deserve attention in the near term. These goals will become your focus. Ideally, you will select goals that will substantively impact the success of your organization.
Examples of good focus goals include operational changes that streamline how you deliver services; customer service changes, such as billing system improvements; hiring an intern or an employee; lead generation initiatives; or a 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 seek out other perspectives when determining goals that will be given priority. Moreover, the Action Plan will be less successful if you fail to Involve the leadership team and get buy-in for its aims and implementation.
Once you’ve settled on your 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.
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; or a process to bring in new, high-ranking leads that is ready to roll would be first-rate and quantifiable markers of success criteria for your focus goals. Give yourself two to four success criteria for each focus goal.
Identify also one key performance indicator KPI for each focus goal that will allow you to easily determine if you are 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, 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. Lastly, with your leadership team, decide who will “own” and assume responsibility for carrying out each action step.
Thanks for reading and enjoy Labor Day Weekend.