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Labor Day has passed. The kids are back in school. Fall is in the air.
And just like that—Q4 has arrived.
If you’re using any kind of business operating system (including our GROWTH methodology), you know that Q4 means two things:
One, you’ve got to set new goals for this quarter to keep things moving forward
Two, you’ve got to make sure your team hits the annual goals you set way back at the beginning of the year
The Most Common Q4 Mistake
One of the big mistakes leadership teams often make is….well, being human.
They put off working on their goals, especially the annual objectives, which tend to be the “big stuff” they want to accomplish for the year.
So when that Q4 quarterly arrives, there’s often an “oh s***” moment when they realize just how much work they’ve got to do over the next 3 months.
Not only that, but Q4 may be well the most difficult quarter of the year for getting things done.
The holiday bonanza is great for company culture (and for our personal happiness). But all that celebratory spirit is not so good for moving big initiatives forward.
You can’t treat your company’s success like a college paper, pulling an all-nighter at the last minute to get it turned in on time.
If your leadership team finds itself behind the 8 ball with annual objectives or those all-important revenue and profit targets, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to catch up in time.
If you’ve found yourself in this position, I want you to know—it’s okay.
Just by setting annual and quarterly goals, you’re well ahead of many other companies. You are on the right track. You need to keep doing what you’re doing, only with a little more foresight and planning next time.
Here are 3 tips to help you finish the year strong (and prepare a bit more for next year, too!).
3 Tips to Finish the Year Strong
Tip #1: Cut the fluff.
Set as few goals for Q4 as possible.
We always encourage a “less is more” approach to goal-setting. But keeping in mind the time and bandwidth constraints you’ll have, go a little overboard.
With your first draft of goals, ask yourself “If this didn’t get done, would we be okay?” If the answer is yes, get rid of it for now.
Tip #2: Prioritize annual goal completion.
Finish what you started.
Assuming your Annual Objectives are still crucial to company success (as you get more skilled at goal-setting, this will be true 90-95% of the time), create quarterly goals around those objectives before adding anything new to the mix.
If you know you can only get 80% of the way toward completing an annual goal, don’t give up on it!
80% is far better than 50%, so don’t shy away from ambitious goals because you may not totally hit the mark.
Tip #3: Look ahead to next year.
Use Q4 as a springboard for Q1.
Ideally, Q4 will be less of a scramble to hit this year’s targets and more of a jumping off point to help you hit next year’s targets.
For example, if you have a 3-6 month sales cycle, the actions your team takes today will determine your ability to hit your sales goals for next year.
Looking ahead also includes finalizing your budget for the upcoming year so that it truly reflects what you are trying to accomplish—making sure those sales goals are accurate, for example, or determining how much you may need to invest in a key hire for the business.
Even if you feel “behind” this year, picking your head up and looking forward can be extremely helpful in adjusting your trajectory—and keeping your team motivated and excited about what’s next.
I’ll say again: this is a process. Your business, and your team, will get better at advanced planning over time.