Last time in our series on Planning for Growth, I talked about how to establish quarterly goals and objectives. The initial goal-setting exercise will create a forum for the owner to communicate the business growth goals, and include the management and employees in the process of aligning their goals with the overall business goals.

Now that the original goals are established, it’s time to implement the process of quarterly review. The quarterly review meeting will include a report on which goals have been accomplished, which have not, and what the following quarter’s goals are. It’s probably better to begin this review with the front line managers and their direct reports, and have the business owner meet with their direct reports last so that the prior quarter’s results are reported up the reporting chain.

You may choose to have the prior quarter’s results stated without explanation – a simple “achieved” or “not achieved”. But in my view, this process is an opportunity to review what has been learned as well as what has been accomplished. It is also likely that some goals will be abandoned for a number of reasons, and this should be explained, if only briefly. As long as it doesn’t deteriorate into a mere listing of excuses, it can be helpful to describe what has happened on the way to achieving or failing in the goals.
The description of the coming quarter’s goals can be even more valuable than the description of the previous quarter’s results. There are some things that you may want to always include in the goal-setting process.
• Hiring plans. Nothing is more impactful than the commitment to add talent to the team, and communicating any hiring plans (the following quarter at a minimum, farther out is better) throughout the organization is an absolute requirement of improving the growth planning process.
• New locations, products, suppliers or systems.
• Significant new customers
• New competitive threats

There are other forums for lengthy discussions on these topics, but if they are going to have an impact on the company’s growth, and on the achievement of the quarterly goals and objectives that support that growth, these topics may be worth noting in this process.

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