Quarterly Goal Setting & Planning Sessions – Our Process

PlumbeSEO Quarterly Planning SessionAs a company we made a practice of conducting quarterly planning sessions. Even when it was just me and my business partner Dean we would block out half a day to set our goals for the following quarter (90 days). During these sessions we pick two personal and two business goals. Initially we did this as part of our ActionCoach program with our business coach John Layzell.

We have found this to be an extremely powerful process. As the company has grown it became more conducive to run these sessions as a team internally rather then in a group setting.

It’s so motivating and empowering to know you are working towards a specific goal for a finite amount of time and that you will be “STOPPING” at the end of that time frame to access your progress. Did you hit the goal? Why or why not? And then press forward with a new set of goals going into the next 90 days.

Planning sessions as a team

We grew from just the two of us; to four; and now we have twelve full time employees. It’s been amazing to see how powerful this process is for the team dynamic. We come together as a team and think about the next 90 days, set our personal and business goals and then hold each other accountable for completion. Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves and grow as a person. Norton, our Operations Director said “These sessions are extremely motivating. Get’s everyone on the same page and helps us all connect on a deeper level”.

Here is the process we follow:

Set the stage

Start by explaining the value and power of Goal Setting and share some strong examples of goals achieve (both personal and business). As an entrepreneur you might be surprised to learn some if not all of your team members (even highly educated and motivated people) have never really learned about or practiced goal setting. The most powerful case for goal setting is the Harvard Goal Setting case study:

In 1979, interviewers asked new graduates from the Harvard’s MBA Program and found that :

  • 84% had no specific goals at all
  • 13% had goals but they were not committed to paper
  • 3% had clear, written goals and plans to accomplish them

In 1989, the interviewers again interviewed the graduates of that class.  You can guess the results:

  • The 13% of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all.
  • Even more staggering – the three percent who had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.

(Source:  from the book What They Don’t Teach You in the Harvard Business School, by Mark McCormack)

Let the planning begin

We like to start with personal goals. The fact is, we work to live not live to work. So setting personal goals that move us forward as individuals will have a deeper emotional impact than personal goals.

  • Let the team know that you will give them 5-7 minutes to think about their personal goals for the next 90 days.
    • Personal goals can be anything you want to accomplish in your personal life. Loosing weight, dropping body fat, learning a new language, taking a cool vacation, increasing savings, etc.
    • Remind your team to keep the goals SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results Oriented and Time Specific (E.G. Will be accomplished by the end of the quarter).
  • Have everyone on the team say the goals that they picked and why they want to accomplish those goals.
    • Have someone on your team be the “transcriber” to write out the goals on a master sheet. This way you can have a record and circle back to it next quarter and see how everyone did.
  • Let everyone know that you will give them another 3-5 minutes to plan out what they need to do (specific actions) to accomplish those goals.
    • E.G. Work out 3 days per week and cut out carbs to lose those 10 lbs. Sign up for a course on Spanish so that you can learn that new language.
  • Have everyone explain their plan of action for accomplishing those goals

Now the personal goals are taken care of, the next step is to plan the business goals. Every business is driven by Revenue & Profits which tend to be driven by New Sales, Client Retention / Repeat Business & Cost Control. The business owners / sales team should come to the meeting prepared with some specific company wide goals.

  • Sales Goal – In terms of new clients / revenue
  • Retention Goal – Loose no more than “x” clients
  • Profitability Goal – This one you can choose to share with the entire team or keep within the ownership

Sharing these goals with the team gets everyone on the same page as it relates to the direction of the company because everyone will be working toward a common goal.

Each member of your team should come up with two “business” goals specific to their position that will help them contribute to the overall company goal.

  • Let the team know that you will give them 5-7 minutes to think about their business goals for the next 90 days.
  • Have everyone on the team say the goals that they picked and why they want to accomplish those goals.

That’s it. You now have a nice formula for quarterly team planning sessions that will move your entire company forward. Even if you are a one or two-man show, following this process will have a profound impact on your company.

“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” -Fitzhugh Dodson

This practice will have great impact the first time you do it, but the true power is when this is done on a consistent quarterly basis. It gives the entire team (and you) a destination to drive toward. Knowing that you are going to have to report on your progress at the next quarterly session creates a great scene of urgency and accountability.

I’d love to get your feedback. What do you think? Do you do something similar in your company? What do you think should be added to the process?

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