Leader Letters are monthly letters from the Maintex Leadership team. This month, Maintex President Linda Silverman discusses the value of frequent reflection and planning.
On January 1st, with the new year stretching wide open before us, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of creating goals and resolutions.
We are two weeks into the new year now. How are you doing with your goals? Are any of them starting to look overly ambitious? And why do we do that? Why do we set goals that are not (entirely) realistic to achieve?
Setting realistic goals
The answer to setting better goals starts with our past. I believe that there are benefits from lessons learned. When setting goals, making plans, or starting a new project, we must start with a critical look at our past efforts. I like to think of this as a purposeful nostalgic reflection. At Maintex, this exercise is a powerful way to recognize team efforts, celebrate successes and determine ways we could have improved.
Planning more effectively
Whenever I make a plan, I begin by envisioning what my ultimate objective is. I set my goals and then decide what needs to be done to achieve them. By focusing on the end result and looking back, I can plan for success. I can determine the milestones I want to achieve and the obstacles I may need to overcome on the journey. This practice also enables me identify where I need creativity and extra effort.
Planning for the long-term
Many of the projects we work on do not deliver quick results, thus patience is important. Large-scale projects continue from year to year. We plan because we need to know where we are and keep moving towards our eventual goals, one step at a time. This process enables us to do more than hope for a bright future, it allows us to prepare with the benefit of hindsight.
I would suggest that when achieving goals:
- It is not a sprint but rather a long journey.
- We may work at different paces, but the most important aspect is to keep moving forward.
- We need to move along according to the plan.
- We must stay positive and motivated, and persevere.
Case study from Maintex
A recent example of a longer project at Maintex was the creation of our new Employee Onboarding Program:
Reflect: We started by reviewing a number of materials we already had in place. The project team also met with all relevant department leaders to gather their insights and suggestions.
Refine: We refined, augmented and modified the original program based on the extensive information we had gathered.
Release: After months of development, we launched the new program for all new team members. It can now be customized to fit specific departmental needs, just the way we planned.
Review: In several months, we will ask trainers and new employees about their experience so we can review the effectiveness of the program and make improvements.
What’s your plan?
By looking forward and backward we can review what has worked in the past to get where we are today.
A few planning thoughts to remember are:
- Beware of becoming too comfortable - change is a constant and we need new goals to meet those changes.
- Understand the competition. And you can learn from businesses everywhere - both inside and outside of your industry.
- Know your organization thoroughly and focus on your strengths as you plan.
- Include your leadership in the planning process and meet regularly to assess your progress.
Planning at Maintex
Each December, the Maintex team reviews the past year and sets goals to prepare for a successful upcoming year. During this meeting, our Executive team reviews our accomplishments against our three year plan. This is our time to formally assess our results and adjust our plan as needed.
Although we meet monthly during the year, it is during this annual planning session that we look to the future, learn from the past and stay focused on the present. We realize that by doing this we have the greatest likelihood of success.
The Clean Up
The first step in any good plan is to reflect on past successes and missteps. From there you can identify outcomes and processes, refine your tactics, and achieve your goals. Just don't forget to review every outcome so you can continue to improve!