Your struggle may just be with planning.
Planning is an important part of setting goals. In order to reach your business goals, you need to think about how you’ll manage prioritization, resource allocation, progress tracking, and other factors that can make or break your success. More often than not, if you’re successful without planning, you may just be lucky.
There are plenty of stats to help support this, too.
For example, did you know that you’re more than 40% more likely to achieve your goals if you physically record them? The act of physically recording your goal will often, as Inc. reports, “force you to strategize, to ask questions about your current progress and to brainstorm your plan of attack.”
If you struggle with developing a clear strategic direction, setting realistic goals, or implementing your plans effectively, here are five actionable strategies to help you maximize your productivity and actually achieve those objectives you’re setting for your business or team.
Planning Tip 1: Set Clear Goals
Don’t just set any goal; set a clear goal. Furthermore, if you’re setting a goal related to your company’s success, make sure that goal aligns with your company’s overall mission, vision, and values.
If your goal impacts the entire organization, consider setting a cascading goal, meaning a goal that starts at the top or executive level and then flows downward, holding each level of your business accountable for some aspect of the goal, breaking it down into responsibilities every step of the way.
If you set a cascading goal for your business, communicate that goal and its various components clearly and succinctly to those involved in executing them. That way, every party knows what they’re contributing and, more importantly, why they’re contributing to it.
If your overarching goal is to grow your company’s revenue, for example, you wouldn’t want to simply declare this as your goal — and then wait for it to happen. You would need to create a more specific goal, so you know how to strategize for success.
For example, rather than establishing a goal of growing your company’s revenue, you instead establish strategies to increase client spending by 10% while decreasing company spending by 30%. As a result, you increase net profit but then use this clearer goal to more precisely nail down next steps for everyone within your organization.
Planning Tip 2: Develop a Strategy
Once you set clear, measurable goals for yourself and your business, it’s time to determine how you’re going to get there in terms of achieving those goals. While your destination may seem straightforward, you’ll still want to take time to strategize and decide how you’ll go from Point A to Point B.
The strategizing process typically includes breaking down your goal into what’s required during every single step necessary to realize the goal, including action items, start lines, and deadlines. The more details you have, the clearer your road map to your goal and the more likely you are to stay the course — and that’s true for every member of your team.
Let’s return to our example goal of increasing net profit by raising client sales and decreasing company spending. Your strategy might include action items for your sales teams, complete with deadlines and specific sales goals. In addition, it might involve action items for your accounting departments that identify areas to cut back and find more cost-effective and efficient ways of doing business.
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Planning Tip 3: Allocate Resources
As you lay out your business goals and strategize how you’ll see those goals through to completion, don’t forget about resource allocation. Things won’t get done at any level if you’re not allocating the proper resources — whether they are extrinsic resources, such as talent; tech; and capital, or intrinsic resources, such as time; energy; discipline; and focus.
Allocating resources could mean simply delegating talent to ensure your team completes all work, or it could mean moving talent from one project to another, as prioritization dictates, based on your talent’s skills, experience, and bandwidth. Using our increased revenue/net profit example again, in this instance, you might allocate more resources to the sales team and fewer resources elsewhere.
Whatever resources you choose to allocate to the various parts of the planning process, you should ensure resources match the job. Put your top players in the most important roles. Placing the right talent into the right positions to complete your project efficiently and effectively — and making sure your talent likewise has the appropriate time, energy, and resources — will not only ensure you meet your goals but will also increase motivation and productivity on an individual level.
Planning Tip 4: Prioritize Tasks
As you make your way toward your goal, it’s important to prioritize your tasks on an ongoing basis. Your priorities may change over time (maybe toward the start of the year, you’re more focused on decreasing company spending, while toward the end of the year, you’re more focused on increasing client spending) so you need to be flexible enough to see where your priorities lie throughout the year to ensure you reach your target goals.
So that you don’t forget to appropriately prioritize tasks, make a point to update them weekly, on the same day every week, before you head into a new week. For example, you might make a list of tasks that still need to be done on Thursday afternoons, and then prioritize those tasks according to that week’s responsibilities to stay on target.
Do this for overall organizational goals, as well as departmental goals; team goals; and individual goals, and then clearly articulate the top priorities to your team. This prioritization process will ensure that everyone within the organization is working on the most impactful and important tasks first and allocating the most resources — intrinsic or extrinsic — to those action items.
Planning Tip 5: Measure and Evaluate Progress
Possibly the most important tip of all? Plan to also measure and evaluate your progress on a regular basis, just as you plan to reprioritize your tasks and action items on an ongoing basis.
Use internal accountability strategies to manage your own behavior and increase your willpower. Apply external accountability strategies to manage the entire organization. These strategies create a system of checks and balances that keeps everyone on track.
External accountability strategies might include using technology (such as Arootah’s Habit Accountability Tracker), enlisting the support of a coach, or making your goals and progress public knowledge. Maybe the entire company can see how the various internal teams are succeeding or failing at their target goals for increasing revenue and decreasing spending, for example.
If you can hold yourself accountable to all of the tips above, you’ll be that much closer to planning your way to success.
The Bottom Line
By implementing these tips and strategies, you can stay focused and motivated toward achieving your goals, while also making the most efficient use of your time and resources.
Need more support in reaching your business or professional goals? Take our leadership assessment to identify areas for improvement in planning and productivity skills, whether for yourself or your team.
Disclaimer: This article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be and should not be taken as professional medical, psychological, legal, investment, financial, accounting, or tax advice. Arootah does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or suitability of its content for a particular purpose. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read in our newsletter, blog or anywhere else on our website.