We all set goals in life, or at least we should. But sticking to those goals is tough. In business, you probably experience something similar. For example, how many times have you set goals at the start of the quarter yourself or with your team but gradually lost consistency executing against those goals?
Sometimes you might set targets that are a bit lofty or otherwise not “right,” which we can cover in a future post. But typically, you just get too bombarded with managing the day-to-day business to progress towards the bigger picture goals.
Setting strong goals as a team that aligns with your company’s vision is doable using certain goal-setting frameworks and getting better at them over time. Once you have a goal, executing and achieving that goal can be easy if you take the time to plan out the entire process and have a way to check-in and adjust over time. From there, it’s a simple matter of executing the plan each week to achieve the outcome you are targeting ultimately.
Anything is possible to accomplish if you have a plan and stick to it, but if you lack a plan and there’s nothing to stick to, you won’t achieve the goal.
At HelpFlow, we run 24/7 live chat and customer service teams for over 100 stores. We’ve been in business for seven years and have a team of over 100 employees producing millions in revenue. A big part of the success is our goal-setting process and execution routine, which we’ve improved quarter by quarter since year one.
Today’s post will cover how we create and execute action plans for our quarterly goals so you can use it within your business and your team. This post will assume you already have solid goals set that you’re working towards, but if you have questions on that process reach out… that’s a post for another day.
So let’s get into it! How can you create an action plan to hit your business goals.
Create a 12 Week Action Plan
Once you have your goal set, start by creating a 12-week action plan to reach the goal. Then, for each week for the entire quarter, what is one specific measurable outcome you can do that will take you to the next step of reaching your goal? This is not rocket science, but mapping out the entire plan will give you clarity on achieving the outcome and also simplify the weekly execution we’ll talk about below.
Here are a few tips to consider:
- Make sure each week is a “S.M.A.R.T” step, which means specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. In short, something that can be considered “done or not done” at the end of the week.
- Steps should be quantifiable but don’t worry about setting the specific number for that step yet. For example, if your goal is to hire an operations manager then, one of the weekly steps will be to interview candidates. The weekly plan can be set as “complete initial screening interviews” and then the following week “complete final interviews,” but you can wait to select the specific # of interviews for each week until you start that particular week while executing.
Again, this is not rocket science, but it gives you the clarity to see exactly how to reach the goal you’re targeting and also simplifies the weekly execution process that will get you there.
Set Targets Weekly and Execute Against Them Every Day
Once you have your weekly action plan, you can check in on progress at the start of each week and set your targets for what to do in the coming week. Again, this is not rocket science, but it simplifies the process of executing towards your goals.
Each week, typically on the weekend or Monday morning, before doing anything else, do the following:
- What were your targets last week, are they each done or not done, and what can be done this week to course correct or accelerate that progress?
- Based on the above and your quarterly action plan, what specifically is your target this week for each goal to move forward. Again, these should be “S.M.A.R.T” weekly targets.
- Typically, you’ll set a target for the week for each of your goals.
Once you have the weekly targets, you simply execute against these each day:
- Take 15 minutes to plan each day. This can be done at the start of the day in the morning or possibly at the end of the day prior. What matters is that you’re doing it every single day.
- Like the weekly review process, look at your prior day items and be clear with yourself on whether they’re done or not done and what can be done today to course correct or accelerate progress.
- Ultimately, lock in your task list for the day. What we’ve seen work best is (a) top 3 tasks that MUST get done (b) hot list three tasks that really should get done (c) and miscellaneous three tasks that you ideally want to get done.
This weekly and daily process brings a clear and simple focus to each day so you can progress towards your goals. To be clear, you’re not mapping out your entire day hour by hour. Instead, you are being clear about the top three tasks that you demand to get done to progress towards your goals and then basically six more tasks that you want to get done as well. Nine things every day. Pretty simple
The Most Important Step – Monthly Check-in and Changes
No matter how well you set goals or plan the entire quarter, curveballs are going to come up that will slow your progress or change your plans. Many people resist planning specifically because of this. If the plan goes out the window, why bother planning.
The solution here is simple – building and replanning into the plan!
We have an extremely simple but effective routine we use throughout the quarter. It has enabled us to consistently hit our goals and keep momentum regardless of what comes up day to day or week to week. In short, at the end of each month, we review our progress and then literally re-plan the entire rest of the quarter.
- At the end of month 1, review what you have accomplished in that first month and then plan the remaining eight weeks of the quarter. Sometimes this will be a similar plan that you started with, but often it will have adjustments from what you’ve learned in the first month.
- Then continue executing weekly and daily.
- At the end of month 2, review what you’ve accomplished again and plan the final four weeks of the quarter. This gives you a checkpoint to see the reality of where you’re at, where you are falling short or exceeding, and to plan the four short weeks of execution that can lead to hitting your
Yet again, this is not rocket science. But baking in the ability to change the plan based on insights and lessons learned along the way drastically increases the ability to hit your goals.
Goal Setting is important, but the execution is what ultimately creates results. This is a proven process for planning to hit quarterly goals, executing weekly, and course-correcting along the way.
What are your current quarterly goals that you’re working towards? Do you have a week-by-week plan that you’re executing against? If not, get it in place and adjust it on a monthly basis to get to your outcome.
Want a Template?
We have a google sheet template we use to plan our quarters as a team with each of the weeks mapped out. If that would help you, let us know in the comments, and we can share it with you (it’s a private google doc that we can share with you).
Jon Tucker is CEO of HelpFlow, a provider of 24/7 live chat and customer service teams for 100+ eCommerce stores. Launched in 2015, their team of agents has produced nearly $100M in chat revenue for a wide range of stores using a conversion-focused approach to live chat.
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At HelpFlow, we've run live chat and customer service operations for 100+ brands since 2015. While we offer full service live chat and customer service solutions, we also support leadership teams to overcome challenges and pursue new opportunities through consulting projects.