This is it. This is the year that we resolve to be more productive, to improve. (I know I say that to myself every year…) This is a common theme and the January gym memberships ultimately bear this out. But how many of us actually follow through with whatever desired improvements we see for ourselves or our businesses?
Let’s face it, change is hard. I don’t know many people who say, “I love change, bring it on!” Instead, my experience has been that most people “manage” change more than actively embracing it. This is mainly because, well, it’s different. It’s unknown. With the unknown comes FUD—fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
So how do you approach 2016 to make real change? What can you do to ensure that your company doesn’t fall into the same patterns that prevent goals from being achieved? Here are some simple steps you can easily take to help you and your team become more productive, whether you have big plans or just want to make some incremental improvements.
1) Set Some Goals. This sounds obvious, but it’s the foundation of improvement and productivity. What are the goals for your business? You can start with something general, such as growth, but what does growth look like? More projects? Higher revenue jobs? More profit per project? It is critical that you set some criteria around your goals. This could be as simple as stating that you want to increase my profitability per job or I want to win 12 new projects this year.
2) Write Them Down. While goal setting varies from person to person, I have found that simply putting something down on paper helps give weight or reality to the goal. Share with your team. Make a plan, set priorities, and criteria for success. How are you going to measure your progress or determine success? Add some deadlines; whether they are quarterly, monthly, weekly, or even daily, my experience has been that without setting some deadlines, they will get pushed further down the priority list, and make it easy to lose site of the goal.
3) Modify Your Behavior. What are you going to do/change to support the goal? You will not achieve your goals if you are not prepared to make some changes to support them. If your goal is to win more projects, perhaps adding a simple design as part of your proposal or providing an additional value-add service could help win the deal. If the goal is to increase profitability, better organization (such as detailed pick lists or combining service and install tasks) before rolling a truck could save time, mileage, and that extra trip to the shop for forgotten items.
4) Track Your Progress. Along with setting deadlines, scheduling time in the calendar to review and track progress is critical to achieving your objectives. It does no good to set goals, make a plan, then stick it in a drawer and forget it. Set aside some time to review your criteria or Key Performance Indicators (KPI), review with your team, and hold yourself and team accountable for progress and results. Make sure this time gets properly scheduled—get it on the calendar and stick to it. It won’t happen otherwise. Celebrate your progress (however small or slow) as it does represent change, and change takes time.
5) Re-visit Goals Periodically Throughout the Year. Do the goals we set for ourselves still make sense? Are they realistic? Did circumstances change that make it more difficult to achieve the desired outcome? Economic and business environments are fluid, and you need to be comfortable with change if the situation calls for it. Being able to be flexible with your plans while continuing to move forward is positive change in itself and will make it easier to make decisions as situations evolve.
Keep in mind that these things take time. While these steps have worked for me throughout my career, and I continue to follow these principles (as best as I can), nothing should be considered “one size fits all.” What I’ve outlined above are some of the most basic, yet effective, ways of getting on a path to successfully achieve whatever your personal or professional goals may be, but I strongly urge you to modify your approach as you see fit to ensure the best result for your particular needs.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Share comments below or better yet, keep the conversation going on social media.