The holidays are approaching and the new year is almost upon us. Before we just jump into 2022, it’s important to take time to step out of being “in” our business so we can work “on” our business. I highly recommend a strategic planning session with your leadership team where you do strategic thinking and execution planning. But what’s the first step?
Let’s begin by reflecting on 2021. A great exercise is the S/S/K — Start, Stop, Continue. Instead of repeating exactly what you did this past year, brainstorm what’s working so you can keep doing more of that, what’s not working so you can stop those time wasters, and what’s missing so you can make time for the opportunities ahead of us.
Begin with the start list
The best place to begin is with the “Start list.” Brainstorm all the ways to increase your business, recruit and retain more agents, improve your culture, etc. What processes could be improved to make you more efficient? Ask yourself:
“If money wasn’t a factor, where would I invest in additional resources (people, technology, etc)?”
To make time for the “starts”, look at what’s consuming your time and giving you a minimal return. When and where are you most inefficient? Pose this question:
“What activities are easily deferred when we are short on time?”
Identify activities worth doing
What’s positively contributing to the success of the company and absolutely worth the effort? These are the areas where you want to double down! Ask this question:
“Where are we currently providing the most value for our agents and/or clients?”
Now that you have your three lists, it’s time to prioritize them into an action plan. What are the key initiatives for 2022 which will push your business forward? The fewer initiatives; the better. I recommend three.
Define your highest priorities
Defining your highest priorities and greatest opportunities will help you focus on what’s most important. Break it down into 90-day, bite-size time chunks with executable goals, clear metrics and targets. Identify who owns which initiative and build in accountability measures so you can get to the finish line by year-end. Using the WWW (who, what, when) tool in every check-in meeting will help with accountability.
When setting the goals, follow the well-established rule of SMART goals—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. MIT Sloan Management Review recently questioned whether this was really the right approach and getting the best results. They came up with a fascinating, thought-provoking alternative – FAST goals.
They said goals should be embedded in FREQUENT discussions; AMBITIOUS in scope; measured by SPECIFIC metrics and milestones; and TRANSPARENT for everyone to see. The FAST goals push you to think bigger about what you can accomplish. SMART goals can leave room for being just “good enough.”
This is the perfect time to review 2021 and prepare for 2022 with FAST goals. We will gain focus, energy and optimism as we enter the new year!