As I write this blog I’m doing some prep work for Print Audit’s annual Strategic Planning week. Soon, I’ll be with fellow executives at Print Audit, and we’ll be locked up in a room together for 2 days as we reflect on the year that was and plan for the year ahead. Next to spending Christmas with my family, it’s one of my favorite things about December.
No, seriously, I mean it. 100%. I LOVE our Strategic Planning days! I can hear some of you groaning. Who likes being stuck in 2 days of meetings, usually 10 hours a day? Who in their right mind likes taking time away from the busy hustle of year-end to do such a thing? I do. And I know my fellow executive team members do to. Let me explain why.
To master the future you must learn lessons from the past. We do a few things at Print Audit that are directly related to reflection on the year that was. This pre-exercise is an extremely valuable way for us to make sure we’re doing all we can to rock it. We reflect in 3 ways:
1. Employee Survey: If you don’t do this at the end of the year, I highly recommend that you start. In our surveys we don’t require the employee to submit their name, so they can be honest and frank in their responses. There are the usual questions related to professional satisfaction, but Print Audit goes much further. Print Audit’s culture is very people-focused and many of the questions are directly related to the well-being of our staff. Some examples:
“I have a good friend at work.”
“My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.”
“At work, my opinions seem to count.”
Why do these questions make a difference when they have nothing to do with job functions? Because the people doing those job functions are living, breathing, dynamic PEOPLE! The happier they are, the more productive they are too, which is an added bonus.
2. Premier Member Net Promoter Survey: Of course our customers opinions matter too! Print Audit doesn’t sell anything as one-off sales. Our Premier program is subscription based and we have to make sure our customers are 100% happy to ensure they keep paying us every month. Our Premier member survey’s are filled with incredible insights and gold nuggets to ensure that we are doing our level best to lead the industry and to help our customers to be more successful. This survey includes 3 important questions or frameworks:
Start: What should Print Audit start doing that we haven’t done before?
Stop: What should Print Audit stop doing?
Continue: What things do you love that we should continue to do?
The Start, Stop, Continue framework is an excellent way to get the facts about how you are performing for your customers and it’s one of my favorite things to read through once our customers have submitted their responses. It’s never all good, and that’s the point: Being the best requires more than just the pats on the back, it requires honest reflection and more importantly, future action to deliver on promises.
3. Running the Numbers: One of the things I love about Print Audit is that the books are open to all of our staff. We have a bonus program that all of our staff benefit from, and when they see the financials, when they understand them, it helps everybody to make better decisions about how and where we spend money. Most private companies don’t have such an open book policy but I would encourage others to rethink that. When everybody knows the numbers, when everybody has a stake in why that matters, it dramatically increases employee satisfaction.
Well, I have to stop writing because I’m hours away from heading off to our annual Strategic Planning event and I want to make sure I’m ready as ready can be! We’ll start the 2 days off by reading and discussing the 3 items listed above. These will act as our “level-set” and ensure that any planning we do is as close to the mark as possible. If you aren’t doing similar exercises this time of year, I strongly recommend that you do. The payoff is worth every ounce of effort. 2019 is going to be as exciting a year as any in the history of Print Audit and I’m looking forward to doing my part in making it the best it can be.
What kinds of things do you do this time of year to get ready for the year ahead? Do you have some of your own advice that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you so please leave your comments!