Jake is a good leader. But if he doesn't change, the new year is going to eat him alive.
Jake has a general idea of what he hopes to achieve in 2024. He even set some SMART goals before he left the office for the holidays. But he doesn't have a plan for how his team will actually accomplish them.
Zig Ziglar once said, "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time." Good leaders know what they're aiming at. Jake has a clear set of targets for the coming year.
But looking downrange at your targets without a plan for what weapon you will use, who will pull the trigger, and when? You'll never hit anything.
In addition to a set of goals, a clear plan has at least three parts: milestones, actions, and assignments.
Milestones are important for determining if you're on track. If my goal is to drive from Chicago to St. Louis, arriving in St. Louis by 5 p.m., paying attention to the mile markers along the highway will tell me if whether or not I'm on schedule.
Breaking down larger goals into milestones provides important information as you seek to achieve your goals. If you want to increase annual revenue by 12%, laying out monthly and quarterly milestones will let you know how you're doing. This data can help you decide what activities might need to change in order for you to be successful.
Actions are the tasks your team takes to reach their goals. In order to increase revenue the team may decide they need to have 125 sales conversations each month, make 300 outbound sales calls, revise the website to make it easier to order products online, engage 100 current customers in a voice-to-voice survey to uncover their needs and desires as it relates to your products, ask every new customer for a referral, and so on. These are all specific actions that will lead to increased revenue.
Assignments are, well ... assignments. They answer the question, "Who will do what, by when?" Each action needs to be assigned to a human who takes responsibility for making it happen. In the example above, someone needs to own revising the website, someone else needs to be responsible for the customer survey, each salesperson needs a number and deadline for the sales calls, and someone needs to be responsible for following up with new customers to ask for referrals.
And, of course, as a leader you need to make sure you hold each person accountable for their assignments, checking in with them periodically, helping them troubleshoot, and ensuring they have the resources they need to succeed.
So how about you; do you have a clear plan?
What will your team do this week to start you down the road to success?
Don't let the urgency of the first week of the year distract you from developing a clear plan. And if it already has, don't give up. Implementing a plan in week two, or even month two, is better than trying to get by without one.