Productivity, Strategy

Ditch Resolutions This New Year: 5 Big and Inspiring Business Goals for 2017

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You’ve decided to ditch that tradition of making (and breaking) resolutions once and for all. Congratulations. So, now what? Close your eyes and imagine it is one year later. What would you like your company to have achieved? What obstacles will you have overcome, and what are the chances you actually will achieve those ends?

Instead of making resolutions, set some big and inspiring business goals for the new year because even if you don’t achieve them, getting a firm handle on objectives brings clear focus to opportunities and ultimately captures what your business is all about. Consider these five big and inspiring business goals for the coming year, and align your company to achieve them.

1) Spark passion across your organization

The legendary financial guru and advisor Suze Orman was once asked the secret behind her success. Her answer: If you are inspired, you will naturally inspire others. Passion is the product of inspiration. It ignites motivation, engagement and a feeling of belonging among employees but don’t confuse passion with company culture.

Any business leader will tell you that as a company grows, it becomes more and more difficult to actually sustain and replicate culture across multiple silos. Passion is different because unlike culture it replicates spontaneously. It connects your employees, customers and stakeholders with a set of common values that serve as a framework for sharing passion across an organization. Start the new year with a set of clearly defined values to guide your company forward, and watch the passion take hold.

2) Chart a powerful vision for your company

Powerful leaders are fixated on a powerful vision. When corporate leaders enlist the organization in a vision and model, organize and staff the work environment to reach shared goals, the result is an unyielding dynamic that drives performance and ignites excellence. Employees are attracted to a strong vision, and they notice when a leader walks the talk. For the coming year, chart a course of action that is based upon a crystal clear vision for growth and success.

You may be thinking your organization does not lend itself to having a particularly compelling vision. While it may not be intrinsically inspiring, most companies started because the founder had an idea of what they wanted to create. Rekindle that nascent idea -- that original “vision” or set of business goals -- behind your company in the coming year, and recommit to the reasons why it all started. Then, share that vision so that every employee can serve a cause bigger than themselves.

3) Recognize what your customers want from you

It’s easy to make assumptions about what your customers want. This happens with your management team dives too quickly into solving problems because they errantly believe they know what’s good for customers already. The first step is to admit you don’t actually know what your customers want. Even if you think you know, you don’t. To truly understand them, you have to do something that is often quite startling to consider. That is, ask your customers directly. For the new year, commit to opening up a dialog with your customers in the form or direct conversations, focus groups, surveys and improved customer service. Encourage your customer-facing employees to feed information back into the company, and ask people who don’t deal with customers on a daily basis to spend a little time getting to know them. The results will be transformational.

4) Recognize what you want from your customers

As with the previous point, most companies actually spend a lot of time trying to understand and deliver what their customers want. If you ask them to tell you about it, they’ll launch into a well developed set of ideas around the needs and desires of their customers, and ways the organization is striving to satisfy them.

But how many times have you asked your organization, what do we want from our customers? For example, sales and revenue growth comes primarily from customers, but have you thought about how to turn your customers into a virtual salesforce? Consider adopting a new mantra for 2017: Every customer should be a powerful reference for your business. All decision making should flow from that mandate.

5) Assess your company’s potential and then unleash it

Many business ideas never make it any further than the boardroom because the idea makers, part and parcel to planning and evaluation, test their assumptions and deem the ideas unfeasible. But really, aren’t we doing ourselves a disservice? How many times have you thought to yourself, we could do this if our organization had the will! Unfortunately, we’re programmed to avoid taking risks, but if we don’t take on the big challenges we’re ultimately going nowhere.

In the year ahead, confidently assess your company’s potential. Consider the combination of talent, resources and connections that are spread out across the company, and decide whether you’re being held back from achieving something important because of a bias for seeing the glass as half full. Banish the idea that there are wrong answers, and unleash uncommon results. Smart leaders know that setting goals like these is indispensable to giving your company a sense of direction and shape. Take these big and inspiring business goals and incorporate them into your organization, and make 2017 a year to remember.

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