It’s that time of year again. Start preparing for family gatherings, great food and year-end planning for your business. Yes, that’s right. Turning your focus to year-end planning now will properly prepare you so that when January 2nd rolls around you and your team know what to do to hit the ground running. 

First things first: gather your team. Collaboration from the onset is critical to getting buy-in from everyone and ensuring a greater likelihood of success. Avoid grumblings such as, “Well, the advisor put together a bunch of goals and then just threw them at us but they make absolutely no sense.”

Work together as a team by following this six-step process for effective goal planning. 

1) Identify
Identify all your goals as a team. Gather around a whiteboard or a flip chart and ask everyone to start throwing out their ideas. Not everything is going to make it to the finals, but at least everyone is heard and all ideas get considered. What an easy way to demonstrate how much you value each player and their contributions to the team! 

2) Prioritize
Prioritize all the goals into groups of A, B, C and D – whether you have four or 24 goals. Just like Covey’s Quadrants, goals in group B (Important but Not Urgent) may get tossed out until next year. However, the goals in group A (Important and Urgent) should be defined and labeled as top priority to be addressed in the next 12 months. 

3) Assign ownership
Each goal needs a quarterback, and that’s not you. The selected team member isn’t necessarily the only one working towards the specific goal, but they are the one who will carry the ball and ensure everyone is doing their part to get it accomplished. This is also the person who will keep you updated and be able to answer any of your questions regarding progress. 

4) Determine deadlines or a timeline
Is this a goal that needs to be accomplished just in the second quarter or is it a yearlong endeavor? Does time need to be set aside each day (or each week) to address this goal? Refer to your prioritization groups to help determine the appropriate timeframe. Then, anyone involved with the goal should be held accountable to block time on their calendar to work on it. As easy as this sounds, it’s the most crucial first step in accomplishing your initiatives in the timeline you desire. 

5) Monitor
This is probably the most important step. Talk about how you are going to monitor progress so the ball doesn’t get dropped. Hold quarterly meetings during which nothing but each of the goals are discussed. One by one, review the progress, obstacles, and opportunities in order to make adjustments that ensure your goals are still achievable.

6) Reward success
You might think you have some terrific ideas for motivating your team, but let’s face it: We are all motivated by different things, so what may have worked for you years ago may have absolutely no value to today’s team member. Talk to your team about this. Ultimately, you will have to make the call when it comes to selecting realistic rewards. Do your research first to find out what’s really going to keep people inspired. Is it money, time off, or a great team event? 

And About Those Business Goals…
When considering business goals, add two hugely important components to the process. First, consider where your business is on the “S” curve. Are you in a growth mode or in a foundational mode? Your goals should reflect your current business mode. For instance, during the foundational mode you may consider rethinking your client experience and revamping your technology. During a growth mode you may focus on acquiring new clients, new assets, and new revenue. 

Second, advisors who are goal-oriented always need to incorporate a healthy mix of business, professional, personal and wellness goals. Ask yourself, “Are my mix of goals reflecting my stage in life/?” Each year this mix will change requiring you to be more focused on your personal life while other years focused more on business. Perhaps your family life is brimming with children’s activities and one of your goals is to attend 136 soccer games. Other years become better for concentrating on your business, i.e. generating 136 new clients. If you need a push in the right direction to becoming more balanced in your goal planning, click here and enter the code “blue” to download our Blueprinting Guide. This exercise will force you to reflect on what you value most, and allow you to build meaningful goals that inspire you when motivation is lacking. 

Where are you on the “S” curve for your business? Where are you in your personal life? Advisors who take this blended approach to goal setting become comfortable with the fact some years may not be business-focused, and instead that focus will come from the personal side with relationships, spirituality, or wellness. This healthy combination leads to greater business success while living the life that is important to you.