Most companies start preparing for the next year, quarter, or season as the current one winds down. When the clock strikes midnight, it’s too late to make any changes to the items or projects already in production, and even modest tweaks to those in flight are difficult to fit into the timetable. Some companies even stop all production in the middle of November, opting for continuity above potential improvements during the holiday season. Although the final days of the year provide an excellent opportunity for introspection, you should also be making plans for the new year so that you’re ready to launch right when the calendar flips.
Various companies take a variety of approaches. Some companies have already begun planning for next year, with targets that are a mix of metrics (such as an increase in revenue by a certain percentage) and actual results (delivering some big projects.) Some people, rather than focusing on the particulars at the outset, prefer to think in broad concepts and choose the overarching goals. It’s not uncommon for groups to devote most of their planning efforts to the year’s first quarter, outlining everything from their projects to their milestones while leaving the remaining three months open. There is no “correct” way to handle annual planning like this, and it’s usually best to use a mix of methods. First and foremost, you should prepare so that your teams don’t waste the first two months of the year getting their bearings.
Whatever method a company adopts, some commonalities must be considered. The goals and objectives of a solid plan should be within reach. As the project proceeds, the team will learn more about the customer, the environment, and the preliminary outcomes. Therefore, it’s essential to account for these factors. Having a strategy that can adapt to new circumstances is essential for reaching your goal. Finally, it should be motivating, inspiring teams to get moving as the new year begins and serving as a source of inspiration for the coming months. No matter how well a plan is carried out, it won’t succeed if the team doesn’t believe in it or isn’t enthusiastic about it.
New year’s preparation should consider the following guidelines.
Most teams will enter the year with a clear idea of their roster size, spending limit, and available tools. Although many of these factors are subject to change once the new year begins, it is usually more convenient to assume they will stay the same for preparation. For example, suppose you need a team of ten employees to complete a significant project. It would be best if you counted on having that many individuals available at the start of the year. The same applies to the project’s available funds or any other resource. It would be difficult for the team to execute a plan that requires more resources (such as members, time, or money). Unsurprisingly, unexpected outcomes may occur, but realism is far superior to optimism when making plans.
Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.D. Eisenhower
To quote an American politician, “we start the year with the team we have, not the team we wished we had or a team we may have in the future.” This is sound guidance for anyone tasked with devising a strategy. At the start of the year, you want your team to be ready to dive into an actionable plan. Motivating the team to start won’t be easy if the plan’s success depends on factors beyond their control, such as additional personnel, funding, or other resources. The team may have to hold off until either more help is found or a workable strategy is developed. It’s improbable that success will result from pursuing a goal doomed from the outset.
Don’t Get Stuck In A Rut
However, this doesn’t imply you should set in stone a perfect strategy and think there won’t be any adjustments needed along the road. Change is almost inevitable, whether for the better or, the worse. The time it takes to fill open positions could be shorter or longer than expected. Some influential people may leave while others will come aboard. Something first viewed as a challenge may be surprisingly simple, or funds needed for the project will become available when they were previously allocated to another company area. If you want your plan to succeed, it needs to be flexible enough to adapt to new data and circumstances. Any strategy that needs to be flexible to adapt to shifting circumstances is just wishful thinking and will almost certainly fail to deliver the desired results when put into action.
Preparing for the unexpected is one approach to this problem. This would amount to speculating about the plan’s potential outcomes while the plan is still being formulated. Consider the following as you look for a new hire:
- What if it turns out that we can find and hire people considerably more quickly than we anticipated?
- What if it moves at a glacial pace?
- We have barely half of the funds necessary to carry out this strategy; how are we supposed to do it?
- What would we do differently if we had twice as much money to work with?
Such “what ifs” need not be named but should be considered and investigated in advance. If the plan crumbles under the pressure of these inquiries, it is too fragile to withstand any necessary adjustments. It’s essential to make one that can adapt to new circumstances or seize unanticipated openings.
This annual preparation is helpful because it helps the team start the new year with enthusiasm and preparedness. A plan that doesn’t inspire the team may succeed, but it will only achieve what most leaders want. That strategy, which amounts to “doing the same thing over and over again” or “keeping doing what we’ve been doing,” may lead to more of the same. This might work for a seasoned team that has been playing as a unit for some time and executing well, but that’s only the case for some squads. Many companies are taking advantage of the new year as an opportunity to start over and point employees in a direction that will benefit the company and provide them with personal fulfilment. Remember this when coming up with the strategy. Even if the prior year was successful, you should still search for ways to improve it.
This is essential for prioritising your first steps in the new year. Most plans outline the company’s desired outcomes for the year or the first three months of the year. The mental activity of prioritisation is essential. Rather than tackling everything at once, the approach should zero in on a handful of priorities that can generate early-year buzz and success. Teams will employ different strategies depending on whether they have a single, immediate target or numerous, further away ones. Create a prioritised list of actions to take immediately as part of your planning process. It will be easier to complete the rest of the year’s goals and the plan if you’ve already achieved some early successes.
To ensure the team is ready to go as soon as the new year begins, they must begin planning for it before the year ends.
Plans must consider available time, money, and assets. While more of everything may become available, it’s safer to assume they won’t. If the plan’s success depends on resources that aren’t available, then it’s not very likely to be realised.
Being adaptable in one’s approach to planning is also essential. Eventually, this year will bring about some shift in the status quo. This shift may simplify matters, make them more complicated, or reorganise several moving parts. Making a strategy that can withstand disruption is crucial to achieving long-term success.
Rarely does everyone get a chance to start over. There is no better time than at the start of a new year to reorganise your team’s priorities, renew everyone’s enthusiasm, and set everyone on the path to success. The plan must be ambitious and zero in on a few essentials. If the team sees early success, they are more likely to work hard throughout the year. Your current strategy might significantly influence your team’s results in the first few months and throughout the year.