Focused execution is what creates results in business. This is simple in the early days when you have a small team, as you all focus on the same thing. But as a team grows, focus can spread and cause execution to slow down.
Maybe you’ve reached a point like that in your own business? Eventually, you and your team can feel like you’re slogging through each day without a clear long-term plan. Then, it turns into a grind.
There’s a better way to build a successful business as your team grows!
You can use a quarterly goal-setting process to create a pulse on how your company executes. Every quarter, you slow down to see where you are and determine what to focus on next. Then, you go back to execution to get there.
As a team grows, collaboratively doing this leverages the insights of everyone and points everyone in the same direction. After a few quarters, it happens like clockwork, and the size of your team with a solid planning process like this causes your success to accelerate.
At HelpFlow, we run 24/7 live chat teams for over 100 e-commerce stores. Internally, we have a team of over 100 team members across seven departments. As we’ve grown, our success has accelerated because we have a strong quarterly goal-setting process that we’re constantly improving.
In this post, I will walk you through how the quarterly goal-setting process works so you can implement something similar in your company.
Let’s get into it.
As hard as it may seem, you have to slow down at times in business to see where you are. Therefore, we set aside an entire week for quarterly planning every quarter. While this causes less work to be done that week, we have learned over the years that slowing down for one week per quarter enables us to get significantly more done in the rest of the quarter than we otherwise would have.
In the lead-up to this quarterly planning week, each department manager does a blunt review of their department. They review their target metrics versus actuals, the outcomes they wanted to achieve versus what happened, and summarize the insights into “what’s working?” and “what’s not working?”.
Having everybody do this in a standardized format causes us all to see insights we can use as part of setting new quarterly goals. In addition, as a leader, it allows me to spot trends between departments. Typically, the trends of what is not working are similar between departments, and that’s a sign of a change needed across all teams.
As a leader, your job is to see the business from a higher level and determine how to reach the next peak. By having your entire team share their insights in a structured way, you can start to see trends within and across departments.
Over time, the process we’ve seen work best for this is for me to review everything, ask clarifying questions, and call out noteworthy things for myself throughout that process. Then, I come back, summarize everything and instill a distilled version of the general direction we need to go next and the gaps we’ll likely need to cross to get there.
This sets a shared perspective frame going into the quarterly goal-setting week.
The above process shows us a similar set of facts and a potential path forward. However, at that point, there are typically a few unknown areas we need to dig into to better define specifically where we want to be by the end of the quarter.
For example, in an e-commerce business, this might be brainstorming the pros and cons of migrating to a new customer service helpdesk during the coming quarter. Any individual team member might not have enough context to know how that project would work completely, but brainstorming it together during quarterly planning week would create a shared perspective that is key when determining whether to set a goal for this quarter.
At that point, we typically see a general “theme” of the quarter regarding what needs to be focused on. Again, sticking with the e-commerce example, this might be “add customer acquisition channels,” “boost retention,” or “prepare operations to scale.” By locking in on a theme, you can start to align all departments around pushing to that theme.
From there, all department managers set 2-3 rocks for their departments, and we work together to make sure their definitive (i.e., clear “done or not done” criteria) and that all the goals together are cohesive.
Once we have our goals, we get into executing for the quarter and do it again next quarter.
If you don’t use a strong quarterly goal-setting process, you’re missing out on potential success with your team. Don’t let the busy work of the day slow you down. Instead, take the time to see where you’re at as a team and where you want to go. Then, set goals to get there.