Adjusting Your Strategic Plan Mid-Year
Adaptability is key to ensuring your business stays on track.
By RaeAnn Thomas, PT, DPT, MS
Many business owners know consistency and execution is the key to accomplishing all that was set out in a strategic plan.
However, agility and adaptability throughout the year is just as important. It can be a little like changing routes on a road trip. You may hit some detours or find out there is bad weather ahead. You may need to stop, see where you are, and find another way to get to your destination. Regardless of whether you’ve created what you thought was an iron-clad strategic plan or you’re new to strategic planning entirely, it’s wise to stop, evaluate, and consider whether any adjustments are necessary—either to your plan or to the tactics you’ve set out to achieve the plan—to ensure that your business stays on track.
STAYING OPEN TO CHANGE
I think of strategic planning in terms of running a marathon. If a marathon equaled a year, we would have 365 days to run 26.2 miles. We can run that distance in circles on a track or we can create a roadmap to a finish line 26.2 miles down the road. I think we can all agree that a change of scenery and forward progress is the way to go. I urge you to be flexible to the change that may be required to achieve forward momentum in your business.
Before starting this evaluation of your strategic plan, consider: Did you have a shotgun start to the year and take off running in circles—perhaps a less-effective start to the year warranting a readjustment—or did you prepare for this year’s race and know where your destination was and where the mile-markers were located? Knowing where you started, and where you hope to be, may help predict what a mid-year assessment will reveal.
TIPS FOR A MID-YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN CHECK-UP
How have you and your team performed thus far? Are you on pace and 13.1 miles along in the marathon that is your strategic plan? Help your team locate their current mile marker. What have you all achieved so far? What has gone well this year? What has not gone well? Is your annual goal still relevant or was it too complicated? These are all questions I recommend asking your team with plenty of time set aside during a staff meeting. Then, fine tune or completely revamp your goals for the rest of the year.
Bring in the Team
Yes, I am referring to buy-in. You likely know exactly what your team needs to do to course correct. So do they! It is important to let them be the ones to verbalize it. Now, they will need you to provide the data to help guide their decision. You may have been tracking your cancelation rates or evaluation numbers, but have you shared those numbers with your team? They need, and more importantly, want to know expectations. Provide them with the data, reflect with them, and let them set their own goals and their own rewards.
Finish Strong with Short-Term Goals
At this point, you need to rejuvenate your team and no one wants to wait six months to see if a goal was achieved. Ideally, at the beginning of the year, we create an annual goal (commonly referred to the Big Hairy Audacious Goal, courtesy of Jim Collins and Jerry Porras from their book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies1). Then, we create some sub-goals or shorter-term quarterly and monthly goals. The monthly goals help your team receive feedback relatively quickly and provide motivation to keep going. If you have not done this, it is not too late. For the rest of this year, I recommend setting weekly and monthly goals. However, you must deliver the information timely and consistently the rest of the year.
Everyone loves a prize, though the kind of prize varies by team. You may have a young team who will work hard for a night out at the trendiest new restaurant with their work family or a staff who has a hard time finding a night without their kids’ baseball games. It is your job to find out what motivates your team, and it is simple: just ask them. “If we reduce our cancelation rate to 9% for October, would you rather win a gift card, do a team outing, or get a new piece of equipment for the clinic?” You may be surprised on that last one, but it is usually a popular option. You can certainly do a combination and mix these up each month or quarter.
Make it Meaningful
As humans, we are primarily motivated by having purpose. Numbers and visit goals are not inspiring. We are running a business and need to hit certain metrics to pay their salaries. Most employees understand that. What will quickly demotivate them is if you start turning humans into metrics. When you discuss your goals, be sure to recognize the number of people you will be helping.
SUPPORT THE PLAN WITH “WHY”
As private practice owners, we do need to hit certain targets to be profitable. We are all facing declining reimbursement and increasing salaries. There is no need to shy away from this reality. However, I recommend consistently revisiting the “why” behind what you and your team are doing in the process. If you are seeing more visits per month, you are genuinely helping more people stay off opioids or out of an operating room. The good news here is that we happen to be selling a safe, healthy, and effective service. Now go get that mid-year strategic planning session scheduled!
1Collins J, Porras J. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. Chicago, IL: Harper Business; 1994.
RaeAnn Thomas, PT, DPT, MS, was in private practice for over 17 years. She currently teaches at the University of Oklahoma part-time. She can be reached at email@example.com.