Each year at this time I write a column about the importance of setting personal and company goals for the new year.
Effective goal setting is another tool you can use in our challenging business environment. It's time to write down your new goals and objectives and stick with them. Resolutions are tough to keep, but if you want a more productive, worthwhile year — not only for your business but for yourself — strategic planning is a must.
The best way to look forward is to look back. What goals did your company or department accomplish? Were sales revenues comparable previous years? If down, what lessons have you learned? Was customer satisfaction maintained or improved? What opportunities are out there for your department or organization? List the answers to these or similar questions and be thorough.
After you have a grip on the past year's achievement, think about what you want to do in the year ahead. Do you want to increase your customer flow? Try implementing new marketing strategies? Are you ready for expansion or is it time to change your business model? Again, list your objectives or aspirations, no matter how outrageous they may sound. On paper, farfetched thoughts take on a more concrete meaning and start you thinking of diverse ways to make them come true.
Now, go back over your list and really think about each goal. Hone it into a specific, realistic objective that is workable and challenging. You may want to be the president of the company you work for, but if you're now a department supervisor, you should see that it will take time to make it to the top, so plan accordingly. Do your best in your own department and you'll be surprised by how quickly you climb the ladder, especially now.
Business owners and top managers are looking for smart, proactive supervisors who have the discipline to plan effectively. List strategies to broaden your customer base, lessen competition, and improve your sales performance. The point is to look at what you want and make it realistically achievable with sound planning.
And set timetables. If you have deadlines, you'll be surprised at how quickly projects and assignments are completed.
Make short and long term goals. Daily or weekly lists of priorities can be completed more easily than if you just keep a jumbled list in your head. Besides, it's fun to draw lines through each task and say, wow, am I ever on the ball.
Long-term plans should be identified and placed where everyone can track them. Keep it updated so progress is evident. It is visible proof that your planning is working.
A few other tips to help you carry out your goals:
Allow for setbacks, emergencies, unforeseen circumstances — all those accidental things that throw your well-planned day out of kilter and cause you to fume because you're now behind schedule. Allot extra time in your day or for a project's completion, just in case something goes wrong.
It takes self-discipline and tenacity to attain success but the results are worth it. Upbeat, positive thinking and solid, well-thought-out planning can make the difference between making it or just getting by. The coming year can be another average year or the year you make your dreams come true. The choice is yours.
Jan Kantor is a Southwest Florida business consultant and executive coach. For more information, or to contact him regarding workplace solutions, his website is www.jankantor.com.