Six Questions at the Beginning of February

At the end of the first month of the year, are your objectives for 2014 being met? Have the results versus your goals left a gap?

Are you worried that what happened or what didn’t happen in January can spread to February? Or March?

When the New Year starts, there is considerable activity and excitement because January brings to every company and most people a fresh start, with new goals, and the opportunity for a change for the better.

Yet sometimes, when the numbers are tallied at the end of January, things aren’t where they need to be.

The cartoon character Pogo stated “Having lost sight of our objective, we redoubled our efforts.”

Is there confusion about where your company is going and what people should be doing? If people are flailing now, or on their way to failure in the month ahead, how will you lend a helping hand?

As February begins, I have six questions that I believe will help your company regain focus and energy towards company objectives.

My first question is: does everyone know what their goals are? Making the assumption that you believe or think that people know what their goals are is a mistake.

Verification consists of two parts. The first is that everyone in the company has goals and that these goals are written down. The second is that the goals are actually specific, measureable and with a deadline.

In my experience, many people who say they have goals do not really have goals. They have wishes or hopes instead.

The second question is: does everyone understand how their goals fit (work in conjunction with) the goals of others in the company?

It’s not about the fairness of goals or that someone may have fewer goals. It’s a teaching moment so that people understand what they do, and what they are supposed to accomplish, fits within the broader company goals.

The third question is: have you asked everyone for their action plan to achieve their goals?

Even the very best can fail when they start in a new position or with an assignment that would allow them to shine only to see failure very quickly because they did not take the time to create a realistic action plan to get started and to keep going.

This is another teaching moment. Whether people have a plan or not, the owner can mentor those that need to create one, or make an existing plan more comprehensive.

It’s never inappropriate for an owner to check on the specific goals, or the action plans of an employee.

Asking for that information stresses how important the process is.

The fourth question: how often do you communicate and reinforce what the top level company goals are to your employees?

Most people want to know that the company they are working for is growing because that means both opportunity and security. But they won’t be interested if they don’t know what the company goals are.

The fifth question is: how often do you speak of and reinforce what the company mission is to your employees?

A mission statement provides both energy and focus. The mission of the company should make your employees, vendors and clients proud.

When companies struggle, they usually have lost sight of the reason they exist: to fulfill a mission.

The last question is: how is your attitude? Success is based more on mental attitude than mental capability.

You make or break yourself, and all those that follow you with your attitude. Your attitude is shown in your tone of voice, eye contact, facial expressions, posture, handshake, decision-making, delegation, and management style.

Attitude always seeps through to those that you work with.

If you do nothing else, make sure your attitude is one that the people around you want to catch and not run from.