End of year for a business doesn’t necessarily signal cause for celebration. And, even if it does, it doesn’t always coincide with the calendar. Instead, year-end in corporate America is more often indicative of a process that calls into play evaluation, goal-setting, strategic planning, and employee training — not to mention a look at products and procedures, and new efforts to become known in the marketplace. Comprehensive review and planning are necessary in order to assure success during the year ahead.
Business Year-End Review
Year-end is a time to honestly assess your business accomplishments, to acknowledge weaknesses as well as strengths, failures as well as victories, losses as well as gains, and to develop ways to improve the outlook in the immediate future and over the long term. In short, the year-end review is vital, but it should not be limited to finances.
Planning must focus on more than production numbers and sales receipts. Company culture, customer satisfaction, and technology are all dynamic components of a successful business. And successful companies recognize the necessity of looking at each one in a new light in order to drive improvements.
Whether or not a company incorporates individual year-end reviews into the wider assessment schedule, it is always valuable to assess individual performance and to evaluate interaction among employees, between the rank and file and management, and with vendors and clients.
What has been termed the 360 Degree Review or 360 assessment is a holistic way of viewing more than employee performance. It also provides a view of corporate operations, offering a broad look at “company culture.” It encourages a dynamic exchange of information and communicates a willingness to introduce and accept change and to discuss new ideas. That is a catalyst for greater “buy-in” and can help to forge a new spirit of cooperation which, in turn, translates to greater enthusiasm and higher loyalty levels.
Uniquely, done right, the 360 assessment includes not only peer review and top-down analysis but widespread input from diverse segments — customers, suppliers, field workers, and office staff.
Used in this way, it is not at all a substitute for the customer “annual review” that leads to individual employee advancement and increases in pay and benefits. But, the 360 Degree Review can identify candidates for advancement and lead to increased employee engagement and a sense that management “listens.” That is beneficial in myriad ways.
What is the key to success in business?
1. Company Culture
There is a lot of talks these days about how to keep employees happy; it involves much more than an attractive salary and benefits package. While most company owners agree that a well-trained, dedicated and loyal workforce is a requirement, the reality involves real work. Successful companies have strategic, forward-looking plans that emphasize continuing growth and development. That plan can take many forms, from a simple suggestion box to monthly brainstorming sessions, from mentoring programs to formal education and training efforts.
Attracting a new generation of leaders should be an ongoing and recognized goal. If you feel that a “generation gap” exists between company leaders and younger staff, it’s time to address it. Construction-related business, in particular, must address the need to attract new employees who will one day become managers and business leaders. By addressing such concerns directly through a year-end 360 assessment, a company can establish trust and understanding, and begin to find workable solutions.
One thing is certain: The “way it’s always been done” is no longer a reasonable demand. Business success is assured through a willingness to embrace change.
2. Customer Satisfaction
As essential as employee engagement and satisfaction are, the bottom line depends on customer approval and support. Whether you provide a service or sell a product or an idea, clients ultimately make or break the company. It only makes sense, then, to seek some sort of customer input as part of a year-end review or comprehensive planning strategy.
How to accomplish it can take many forms: a written survey, in-person interviews, a telephone follow up or rating procedure, or social media studies. But, if you ask for customer input, then you must be prepared to act on suggestions and to report back to individuals or groups who present well-thought-out ways to improve.
The most successful form of 360-degree assessment incorporates this kind of give and take between clients and companies. It is certainly worth considering as a part of ongoing improvement efforts.
People management may be the core concern of any business, but technology is here to stay, and it can be used to make the business of managing those people easier. Whether the technology you need aids in communication, time tracking and scheduling, product assembly or report preparation, it is an integral part of a business.
If new technology is on your business agenda for the coming year, consider its impact on the people who will use it, and how it will benefit individuals as well as the company as a whole. Just as instant data transmission and smart technology have changed the way we all live and work, advanced technology is sure to have a lasting — and continuing effect on the world of business.
There are some pros and cons to the proliferation of personal technology in the workplace, and companies struggle to find the right balance. It is only prudent to view business technology in terms of the corporate benefit and weigh the negatives along with the positives. The new technology learning curve is a factor, and overdependence on computer systems can constitute a problem in case of breakdown. Finally, the cost of technology must always be balanced by a realistic look at the expected return on investment. If it doesn’t make good economic sense, it really doesn’t make sense!
Components of an Innovative Year-End Review
In addition to looking at your company’s profit and loss statement, there are several additional ways to measure success and move forward. They include:
Have you defined specific goals, and have you made progress toward reaching them? If you met all the goals you set last year, maybe you didn’t reach high enough!
2. Employee Engagement
Examine turnover rates, and take a look at the advancement schedule. Are you providing enough challenge for your workers?
3. Customer Concerns
Analyze positive comments as well as complaints. How does your company respond to negative comments and how do you resolve disputes? Look at return orders and past customer retention, if they are pertinent. Do you receive recommendations from existing customers? Ask for testimonials, if applicable.
Whether you want to become a nationally known company, or simply maintain a stellar reputation in your local community, your brand is an integral factor in your success. Pay attention to how your company is perceived, and work to make it more recognizable. In today’s world, that means embracing social media. If you don’t know how to learn!
Measuring success and moving forward may not always be comfortable, but it is a necessary prelude to growth. A formal year-end review is a way to establish an ongoing progress review.
So, whether your business year is ending along with the calendar year or you’re just taking stock because a new date is looming, this is the time to evaluate the past and plan for the future. New ideas have a way of adding vitality to business as well as personal life.
Change is not only good for the soul, but it can help motivate your employees, rekindle enthusiasm, build efficiency, define your brand, add innovation and boost your bottom line.
But too much change, too soon or too often, can be overwhelming. So, take the time to “get it right,” and plan ahead. Keep your employees and your customers “in the loop,” acknowledge their efforts and their concerns, and share with them the benefits you envision.
It’s never too late — or too early — to plan ahead for future success. In 2018, institute some changes without waiting for the end of the corporate year; an ongoing, monthly or quarterly assessment schedule might better suit your needs, open up new possibilities, and add to your success.