Setting Expectations Year Over Year

July 10, 2014
# min read
Janice Giannini

Actually the title of this article is a little misleading. This article is not just about setting expectations year over year. Lots of managers and companies do that.

It's really about achieving your expectations year over year. And in order to achieve your expectations year over year, I have observed that it is necessary to consistently achieve your expectations quarter over quarter. The huge question then is: If you are going to achieve your expectations quarter over quarter, how is that similar or different from what you are doing today

So, as we are well into the first quarter of the year we still approach the new year it with excitement and a sense of renewal. Positive emotions are high and this year is going to be better than last! There are many questions you might routinely ask this time of year. Just a few that come to mind are:

·     Are you proud of last year's results as a whole?

·     Which of last year's expectations were met?

·     Which of last year's expectations were not met?

·     Do you fully understand the reason they were not met? If anybody in your space made money last year, it might not be just the economy. 

·     What would you have preferred the results to have been last year?

The purpose of this article is not to highlight any down turn in the economy. Rather, it is to suggest that by understanding the environment and your customers' changing needs and then considering the following questions, you will put yourself in a position to leverage any upturn in the economy, much more quickly.

So, what are your expectations for for this year? Specifically- if you want to achieve your expectations quarter over quarter in order to achieve your expectations year over year - how does this current environment require you to adapt? What are the questions that need to be addressed and built into setting and achieving expectations quarter over quarter? What has changed? When you consider what has changed, also look at what has changed permanently and what may have changed temporarily. Knowing that difference is crucial!

What do your customers want? The news media is abounding with stories about how consumers have changed their habits. As a result of the changing economic picture, have your customers changed their approach and therefore changed thier needs as well? Have you checked it out recently?

What am I measuring? A curious thing happens when companies measure. Sometimes the data holds more insight than is utilized. Sometimes, the measurements don't provide the needed insights. In which category does your company fall? I invite you to consider:

·     Were you surprised about how hard you were hit by a downturn in the economy?

·     What early warning signs did you have? 

·     How did these signs help you to determine if it was going to be a fantastic year or a less than stellar year? 

·     How soon did you know it versus feel it and worry about it? 

·     What actions did you take when you started to feel it, to correct? 

In order to set and achieve expectations year over year, the first step is to measure the "right stuff" so you have early warning signals, can advertise the wins, and be honest and learn from the losses. During this season of positive emotions running high, can you take another look at your business from a different vantage point? Can you look at your business as if you were going to buy it and merge it with your current operation? What insights get revealed?

What am I changing? Measuring the "right stuff" puts you in a strong position to be flexible and make changes as the time proceeds. The substance of these changes is around what must you do differently in order to continue to achieve your expectations? Doing more of what works and less of what doesn't work will certainly put you in a better place? Given that the environment is changing dramatically, is it a surprise that you will need to run your business differently?

How do I need to be reinventing quarter over quarter? Do you wake up every morning and look at your business as if you are going out of business? If you did, what would you do differently?

Am I the only one at my company who thinks about this stuff? Performance data in the industry suggests that only 30% of your workforce is fully engaged. What is your payroll? What is 70% of your payroll? Is this a "BIG NUMBER"? Currently, on average you are striking a match to that "BIG NUMBER", with little return. If I handed you a check for that "BIG NUMBER", would you take it?

Achieving expectations quarter over quarter and year over year is about putting the right plan in place, having indicators so you can course correct regularly, and holding everyone accountable for results. Would you buy you? If you would like to discuss this in more detail please feel free to call us.

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