Well, not you of course – you’ll knock it put of the park. But most organizations won’t be so lucky. Setting aside external events (e.g. continuing economic decline, technological, demographic, legislative or other changes) here are the three main reasons everyone else will fail to hit their targets next year:
1. Failing to understand the real reasons for individual under-performance.
Undoubtedly the #1 thing I see business owners, C-level executives and managers spending unnecessary amounts of time on is in trying to work out if a specific individual is systemically underperforming (as opposed to just having an ‘off’ month, or quarter), and then struggling to understand why they’re underperforming.
Developing a strategic approach to this is vital to hitting your targets next year.
2. Reacting to data points, rather than trends.
In Northern Ireland (where I grew up) governance was long dominated by ‘the politics of the last atrocity’. In other words, the last bad thing to happen was what dominated the political agenda, irrespective of its impact for the long term.
In business (though less gorily dreadful), the same thing happens: management is disproportionately swayed by a highly emotive event (e.g. loss of a major customer, gaining of an unexpected, large piece of business, losing / gaining a key employee) rather than objectively analyzing the much more important underlying growth trend.
3. Waiting too long to adjust.
This is a form of understandable, but fatal, post-rationalization: we’ve invested so much in putting our targets and strategies together that we’re reluctant to accept reality and change course when it appears things are working out somewhat different than what we had expected or planned for.
Again, having a simple, structured way to avoid this is one of the most important tools in your new year's toolkit.
I’ll elaborate on each of these in later blog posts, but for the moment, which of these do you feel most vulnerable to?