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16 August 2019

Making 2018 your best year yet

Goal setting should not be a once a year activity. Feargal McCormack shares practical tips on how to make 2018 your best year yet.

In January, most of us think about what we want to achieve over the coming twelve months. We set goals for ourselves and our teams, often investing a lot of time in the process. However, unless these goals are meaningful, everyone quickly slips back into familiar routines, missing out on opportunities to make the most of the year ahead.

Set specific rocks / goals

One way to make the most of the year ahead is to be clear about what you want to achieve and communicate this effectively to your team. From personal experience, we set annual goals but we also operate four 90-day quarters (Q1,Q2,Q3 and Q4) and set ‘rocks’ for each quarter. It is easier to focus on a 90-day period rather than a year.

The rocks and goals must be consistent with the strategic vision of the business, including its Core Values and Core Focus. Whether it’s growing revenue, entering a new market or building your expertise, the more specific you are, the better your chances of success. More often than not you will have more than one objective. When each of these is specific, you can set clearer rocks / goals for yourself and your team.

Getting rocks / goals to work in practice

The next challenge is execution — getting the business rocks and goals to work in practice.

When assigning rocks / goals, individuals must have the necessary authority and resources to achieve the desired result. If the rock / goal is to secure 10 new customers in the first six weeks of the year, it makes sense to delegate this to individuals whose role provides scope for business development.

Share the agreed allocation of rocks / goals with the various teams or groups operating within your organisation as competitive peer pressure can be fun and produce enhanced results.

Identify barriers

Think about what might prevent an individual from achieving a rock or goal. List these barriers and think about how you will overcome them. Does each individual have the necessary skills and resources to achieve their individual rocks / goals?

Be consistent

Be wary about setting contradictory rocks / goals. For example, if you plan to take part in more trade missions this year in order to develop new markets but you also plan to spend more time mentoring your senior managers, where will you find the time to achieve both of these rocks / goals? If you have to choose, which is more important? Can you delegate either of these rocks / goals?

SMART goals

The rocks / goals you set for yourself and your team should be SMART rocks / goals — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

Seek support

The better you understand your strategy and how to achieve it, the better your results will be. Know yourself so that you can capitalise on your strengths and seek appropriate support in the areas where you are weakest. Getting the right professional advice can help you achieve your objectives, rocks and goals but make sure to check out the qualifications and experience of the people you rely on.

A Game of Inches

Business, like life, is a game of inches. In either game, life or business, the margin for error is small and thus a united team, with a common vision and purpose is required to deliver sustainable superior performance. The emphasis should be on “TEAM” ( Together Everybody Achieves More ) and “the power of one”. Thus within our organisation we should seek that inch of improvement both as individuals and as a collective team in order to deliver marginal gains, recognising that 100 things done 1% better will deliver cumulative sustainable competitive advantage.

Collective Character

Collective character is vital to success. Within our organisation or business we should believe that by focusing on getting the culture right, the results will follow. We should seek to encourage and deliver leaders at all levels throughout the organisation, recognizing that the being of team begins from inside. High standards must come from within.

Navigating the ship

I believe that leading and directing a business or organisation is similar to navigating a ship. You may go slightly off course, but with continuous monitoring you can get back on track. Without this monitoring, you will not arrive at your desired destination.

And finally …

Remember that rocks, goals and objectives should be a priority not just in the New Year, or Quarter 1, but all year round. With Brexit challenging businesses across the island of Ireland, effective leadership has never been more important. Now is the time to believe in your strengths, confront your weaknesses, find appropriate support and address the challenges ahead with positivity. The more you understand your strategy and how to achieve it, the better your chances of making 2018 your best year yet.


FPM provides leadership advisory and mentoring services. Contact us for details.

Feargal McCormack l Managing Director

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