No single factor has more impact on employee engagement than “clearly defined goals that are written down and freely shared.” Deloitte Review, 2015 Quarterly planning is merely breaking down your annual priorities into four quarters to ensure that you accomplish and achieve your yearly goals. Your quarterly priorities create a sense of urgency and excitement that an annual goal cannot.
Annual goals are too “far out there.” It’s hard for you and your teams to maintain a focus over 12 months. But you can keep the focus, discipline, and energy to create and achieve 90-day quarterly priorities. You will accomplish more; faster. The quarterly plan also moves you toward your 3-year targets and your Big Hairy Audacious Goal.
John Doerr, in his book, Measure What Matters, shared the power of having quarterly objectives and key results at Intuit, Google, Intel, and the Gates Foundation. Former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, credits the focused Objectives and Key Results with “changing the course of the company forever.”
The critical elements of the quarterly plan include:
Focus on 1, 2, or 3 priorities. Start with 1 or 2 if it is new to you and your leadership team. This type of focus is a discipline (habit) that you want to develop.
Commonly, organizations attempt to take on too many priorities, and then none of them are achieved.
Sources of priorities:
I highly recommend that you tap into employees throughout your organization to listen to what they believe the priorities should be. When people weigh-in, they buy-in.
Also, data that you have collected from your customers can be a great source in identifying priorities as well.
The clarity in writing:
Make sure you take the time to write the priorities clearly. Write them with the SMART acronym in mind. Priorities should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reach, and Time-Bound. There can be zero subjectivity around the accomplishment of the goal. It’s either yes we hit it, or no, we didn’t.
A reminder, quarterly priorities are designed to be hit. There are no excuses. We all work together to ensure we hit our targets. Once a leader is assigned a priority, that priority trumps any preference they may have within their department. If you get behind on the priority, you need not be afraid to ask for help. Team members are there to support each other. When you only have 13 weeks, if you get a few weeks behind, more than likely, you won’t be able to catch up.
It is not unusual that quarterly priorities span multiple departments. Therefore, it makes sense that departments, teams, and individuals will have 90-day priorities, and they should tie into the organization’s top priorities. When this happens, we have alignment. When everyone knows the plan, understands their part in the plan, and is focused on achieving it, we are in sync. When employees are more productive, they have more fun. Accomplishment brings energy, a source of pride, and gets people excited.
Helping the CEO Facilitate the Process:
Quarterly planning frequently is put on the back burner because it is time-consuming, and other things are “more urgent.” But they are not more important. Is anything more important than accomplishing stated goals?
I can help. My proven process includes supporting your leadership in creating an annual plan and, subsequently, a quarterly plan. I conduct a series of on-site quarterly meetings with the CEO and the leadership team where we review the results of the past quarter, evaluate and discuss what worked and what didn’t. Then we create new priorities for the next quarter. I take the burden from you as the CEO.
My goal is to help you hit yours. Want to be more productive? 90% of research confirms that well-defined, challenging goals enhance productivity.
Time to start building quarterly plans.