Mid-Year Strategic Reviews

I recently led a brainstorming discussion for the Marin Chapter of the COO Forum on how to conduct effective Mid-Year Strategic Reviews.  During the discussion with participating Second-In-Commands we crafted a five-part formula for conducting successful Mid-Year Reviews.  The five elements we created are:

1)      Set clear, written Objectives and Goals for your business

2)      Create and use Feedback Systems to gather data on results toward the Goals

3)      Design Incentives to align behavior with goals and focus on results

4)      Hold team members Accountable for results

5)      Celebrate successes at all levels to build belief, hope, and reinforce behavior.

OBJECTIVES AND GOALS.  While some of the COO members seemed sure of their objectives and goals and had then in writing, others struggled or realized they did not have a set structure to define organizational objectives and goals.  Without this fundamental first step, the rest of the evaluation process quickly fell to shambles.   Set Objectives that support and are critical to achieving the organization’s Mission, usually between 3-5 critical elements.  Then set clear, measurable, obtainable, relevant goals supporting the Objectives.  Goals cascade from Organizational, Departmental, Team, to Individual levels.

FEEDBACK.  Even if you have clearly laid out goals and objectives, if you don’t take the time to give and receive feedback those goals are ineffective.  One of the most difficult steps, yet one of the most fundamental for growth and progress within a company, is feedback.    We set these goals and objectives at the beginning of the year, and then we feel we are too busy to give and receive feedback.  Ever felt momentum was just too great to stop and give feedback? Why hinder progress with a formal feedback process?  Without feedback your business and team is like a deep river…the water may seem calm and smooth now but unless you are warned of the white water ahead you won’t know what boulders or falls may be in your path until it is too late to course correct.

INCENTIVES.  The next part of the review process we discussed was Incentives.  What are your incentives for achieving success? Your employee’s?  Your company’s? Most people internalize their organization’s goals, finding their own personal reasons and rewards for achieving them.  Beside their own incentives, organizational/team/individual incentive programs you sponsor, such as bonuses or recognition, are also effective.  They give you as the leader more tools for motivation, focus, and reward then you would otherwise have.  Note: tailor individual incentive programs towards each individual employee. Where one employee may like company wide recognition, others may be shy and only want a few people to recognize them with a more personal interaction or a “job well done” from a superior.

ACCOUNTABILITY.  Hate holding others accountable?  You are not alone!  Occasionally we all are faced with a difficult decision when someone in our company is not performing well and must be held accountable for their actions.  Employees must be held accountable and they need to know they will be held accountable.  Consequences for actions and results need to be laid out, in detail and in full, up front to be most effective in guiding individuals and teams to success.

CELEBRATION! So often we forget that celebration is an integral part of success.  Celebration can come in all shapes and sizes, from cheering and clapping after closing a sale to throwing an elaborate party, but it is fundamental to boost morale and to show employees and yourself that success has been achieved.

As we step into the second half of the year I’m reminding myself to reflect on my organization’s Mission and Values.  I will write down Objectives and Goals and engage everyone on these goals.  Take the time to provide feedback to others and be sure to listen for feedback given to me. Ensure I provide incentives for my employees as well as myself so that everyone is motivated to succeed and focused on successful behavior.  Hold everyone, including myself, accountable for their actions and let them know ahead of time what that accountability looks like.  Finally, I will take the time to celebrate successes!

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