7 Tips for Successful End-of-Year Planning | Fierce

3 employees using sticky notes to plan end-to-end


Your people are your greatest liability….But also your greatest asset!

How can you maximize the ROI for your human assets? Doing so would create a massive productivity increase and impact your bottom line more than any other investment you make.

It’s that time of the year when we all look back at the year and begin to project forward to the next year…

with plans for a better year. Often those plans are purely business and metric driven. What was top-line growth? How about the overall bottom line? Did we hit the milestones and targets on revenue? Did we successfully roll out new processes or products?

All this analysis is necessary and essential to growing your organization. But behind every number is a person or team of people generating that activity. Unfortunately, we all fall into the trap of sticking so closely to the metrics, we never consider the personalities and skill sets behind those metrics. As you begin looking at year-end planning, here are:


7 tips that will make planning more people-centered and build a team that can accomplish those objective goals we all set for our organizations.

1. SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis is one of those old standby tools that often is overlooked because of its simplicity. However, using this tool as part of planning often reveals insights that get lost during the fog of the work year.

For a quick refresher, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internally focused. Opportunities and threats look outwardly into the competitive and market landscape. 

Running through this exercise does consider your important metrics, but it forces you to think through the strengths and weaknesses of your people and teams. It gives you the ability to see gaps in skill sets or the ability for teams to innovate and collaborate. Knowing those strengths and weaknesses allows you to begin seeking out and building plans to optimize the abilities of your people. Detailing those abilities gives you the ability to capitalize on opportunities in your market and build a defense against threats.

2. SMART Goals

SMART goals like the SWOT are tried and true planning processes, but the reason they continue to be used is that they work. The specific steps in the SMART acronym give you the steps for effective goals. An effective goal is Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Reasonable, and Time-bound. 

As you build out actions you want to accomplish, make sure the plans fit this time-tested framework. If not, any plans you create are merely hopes and dreams with no real ability to create the traction you need for the next year.

3. People Recognition

At Fierce we continually research and analyze data to optimize the people element of organizations. With burnout and resignations a constant threat, delving into the psychology behind employee engagement becomes more important. 

One of the factors that continually stands out in all research around employee satisfaction is recognition. Often our default position for recognition is monetary, and because of that, we ignore it if we don’t have a budget line item assigned. While monetary recognition may be a powerful motivator for some, it is not always the main driver. Many times being verbally recognized or given other gifts is enough to build engagement.

Here’s something different to think about regarding recognition. As you begin going through the skill sets and behaviors you wanted to improve in employees, base your recognition around those abilities knowing they will ultimately achieve the organizational goals.

4. Employee Reviews

One of the most powerful sets of data you can use to begin planning for the following year is data you collect through employee reviews. You are able to capture the reasons people are able to meet or fail to meet their goals. Creating an open honest culture that allows for reviews to be built for development rather than viewed as threatening provides the type of data an organization needs to grow.

To make employee reviews as effective as possible solicit feedback from any of the employee touch-points. Discuss their stated goals and whether they reached them. Acknowledge obstacles and also the ability to work around problems toward achievement. If any criticism needs to be delivered, do so in the shape of a developmental goal for next year.

If you are struggling with effective review sessions, both the Fierce Feedback program, as well as the Fierce Coach program, was built to find solutions and prompt real action.

5. Qualitative vs. Quantitative

Don’t forget the qualitative aspects of your organization. These are aspects of your business that can be observed but are harder to measure. 

Questions to consider when thinking qualitatively:

  • How were stress levels throughout the organization this year?
  • Did people complain of burnout? 
  • Was there collaboration within teams?
  • Did the outcomes this year feel authentic to your mission?
  • What were attitudes like among employees and managers?
  • Any sense of toxic culture growing inside the company?

All the answers to these questions will help when you begin putting action steps to achieving plan goals. They will also help frame whether plans are realistic or will achieving them damage the organization.

6. Assess Limitations

There’s a temptation to think of limitations as negative. But boundaries and limitations are often where great growth and innovation come from. Think of the Great Inventions throughout the last 100 years. It was often limitations that forced their creation. 

Limitations have the potential to become one of the greatest leverage points inside your organization. Make a list of the biggest limitations you currently have in your organization. Then begin thinking through Solutions on how to overcome or use this to your advantage. Any solution you create immediately empowers your organization. Now think through the tools and resources you will need to enact these solutions.

7. Think Short Term

We all love to make long-term plans. These lofty goals are perfect for keeping before you as motivators to progress. However, they are often nothing more than dreams. Especially when you create plans 5-10 years into the future. Even one-year goals can be dreams. 

So much can happen that can derail a one-year goal because life changes so fast. Economic conditions move quickly. Political situations change. Market forces evolve faster and faster. A pandemic arises that nobody expected. 

What’s the solution? Keep building out those one-year plans, but make a slight twist. Begin chopping up that plan into 12-week segments. Twelve weeks is about the time frame that most humans can conceive of accomplishing a task. Beyond that, there are too many variables at play to create realistic action steps

So go ahead and build out your goals for the next year but do your deep thinking on action steps for the next 12 months. Your people will thank you. Any sense of overwhelm and limited capacity will disappear. Because they will think, ” I can make that happen in 12 weeks.”

Now is the perfect time of year to set aside time and reflect on your successes and challenges. Use these seven tips to make your planning for the next year more powerful. Remember, don’t forget the power in your human assets. 

The Fierce team is here as a resource as you begin thinking through the skills you need to embed into your teams to accomplish your goals for next year. 

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