It’s almost here: the dreaded Fourth Quarter. It’s the time of year when you have to do double-time of both pushing to meet final year-end goals and planning for next year’s goals. This can be especially challenging when you have a small company and a small team. However, if you are a small business, it doesn’t mean that strategic planning isn’t less important. If fact, planning is essential for creating a clear path to growth.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share these tips from HR expert Melissa Marsh on year-end strategic planning.

1. Determine who to include in your strategic planning sessions. Include those team members who oversee finance, customer relations, employee management and sales. Make sure all disciplines are represented, as well as both local and remote employees.

2. Take the planning off-site. Consider a half-day or full-day retreat away from the distractions of work.

3. Create an agenda of what needs to be covered, while allowing for additions to the agenda. Then assign a different section to each team member to get them involved and to enhance the strategic-planning process.

4. Marsh suggests that if you haven’t done so already, determine your mission, values and vision. If you have, revisit and redefine them because as your business changes so should your missions, values and vision.

5. Use this time to answer the following questions. Again, consider giving attendees the questions before the session so they can come prepared with ideas to discuss:

  • Where must the business excel?
  • Is the sales process effective?
  • How do customers view the organization, the employees and the services?
  • What were the biggest customer complaints in the last year? Compliments?
  • How do internal business processes affect the customer experience?
  • What are the most important financial objectives?
  • What investments will be made in the coming year?
  • How will the business get efficient returns on those investments?
  • How can marketing efforts improve?
  • How can employees be developed as the organization’s biggest asset?
  • Are employees satisfied and productive? Why or why not?
  • Which business functions need repair?

6. Next, set measurable goals and actionable objectives based on feedback from these questions, as well as a timeframe for achieving these goals. Then rate the goals based on importance of creating value to the customer. Marsh says to assess and rate, by importance, the goals to concentrate on each quarter with monthly initiatives to be executed to move the plan forward. Map goals and objectives on the next year’s calendar and you’ve just created your strategic plan.

Source: Melissa Marsh began her career in human resources more than 15 years ago in the casino industry. Over the years, her experience has grown to include a variety of industries ranging from food and beverage to publishing to small start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. Today, she focuses on providing human resources consulting services to businesses with less than 100 employees.