Do You Need a Mid-Year Course Correction?
It’s hard to believe, but 2009 is nearly halfway over. It’s been a rocky 180 days, to be sure, but there are another 180+ days yet to come before 2010 arrives.
Mid-year is a very good time to take stock of your progress and decide if a course correction is needed. Here’s what to explore:
Budget. Take out your spreadsheet and see where you are financially versus where you thought you would be. Any overruns? Underruns? Were there any surprises during the first two quarters or did things go relatively according to plan? Compared with last year at this time, how did you do? Ask yourself these questions to ensure your awareness of your fiscal situation is where it should be.
Plans. What did you plan to accomplish for the year? Did you meet your objectives or did the economy or other factors get in the way? Are the priorities you set at the beginning of the year the same or have they changed? If your business flowed its goals down after the start of the year, do your targets align? Making the necessary changes now will save a lot of scrambling when the end of the year comes.
A simple tool. For a simple but revealing look at your organization, we recommend the use of a four-block or “quad” chart. To visualize the tool, make one quickly yourself. Draw a square and segment it into four equal parts. Label the blocks: What’s going well; What’s not going well; Improvement actions; and Upcoming activities. Not only will the simple tool allow you to easily capture your status at mid-year, you can also use it as a communications tool and a visual aid during your meetings with members of your team.
Open dialogue. Speak with your colleagues. How have they fared during the period? Have their priorities changed? Are you meeting the expectations of your functional customers or is a different approach required? Sit down and meet with your colleagues at mid-year to ensure that their needs are being met – and to ensure that there are no “surprises” on the horizon that will impact your budget and your ability to successfully carry out your own objectives.
Oops! What do you do when things don’t go according to plan? What if there was a significant unexpected event that was a big hit to your plans (and your budget)? Talk to the boss as soon as possible. First, prepare a short explanation of the situation, what happened, why it happened, and what the impact is. Next, present a recovery plan. What steps will you take to “get well?” What metrics and measurements will you use to ensure you’re making progress in the right direction? Ignoring the issue will only make things worse. If things haven’t exactly gone according to plan, NOW is the time to address issues. Remember, the recovery runway only gets shorter every day after July 1.