Bethan Jepson, Allied Global Engineering Partner
I don't know about you but I love this time of year... not just because Christmas is on the horizon🎄, but because I love planning and goal setting 🥰 I love getting excited about the year to come, spending time with the team learning what they find exciting about where we are going and how they hope to have a role in this. I also find it super rewarding to reflect on the year and the wild transformations that have taken place - which is part of the fun of being a business leader right? Every year is crazy transformational! And reflecting on this is instrumental in making sure that you build upon these transformations and don’t let them go to waste.
STEP 1: Reflect & Learn
If I’m reflecting back on my own yearly transformation...At the start of this year, I joined forces with my Dad to build an engineering empire. When I joined in January, there was a team of 15, 13 engineers and 3 of us in the management team 😅 and we are finishing the year with a team of 68, 62 engineers and 6 of us in the management team, also with 2 award wins under our belt. We've also experienced 2 pretty big failures (one in our acquisition process and one in our ‘people strategy’) this year which we have learnt so much from, implementing proactive changes and seeking advice from those more experienced than us in the areas we needed help with... and we've already seen evidence that these learnings and actions we took off the back of them have massively improved our business model going into 2022.
So reviewing your year - your successes, your failures as well as reviewing your year against the goals you set last year, patting yourself on the back for the goals you hit and spending some time understanding the ones you didn’t achieve, WHILST IT MAY BE PAINFUL, it’s also one of the most impactful things you can do, because this is how you grow to be a better version of your business and a better leader next year than you were this year.
STEP 2: Establish your team vision
As the business owner, you will have a vision of what success looks like and you may be tempted to share that with your team and expect that they will share that vision with you. However, whilst your team may admire your mission and why you started this business and why you continue to dedicate your life to it, at the end of the day, your teamwork with you because it’s best for them at this point in their life. That even goes for you and your business partners. So even if your team buy into 99% of your vision, there will always be at least 1% of differences that disinterest them or don’t motivate them to go above and beyond to grow their capabilities and bounce back from failures.
So to achieve absolute commitment to growth in 2022, you need to give them room to express their individual visions of success and also get inspired by each other's pictures of what success in your business looks like and feels like to them. If you don’t think they are thinking big enough, then you can take this opportunity to encourage them, but you should also be prepared to listen to why there is a glass ceiling on their vision in comparison to yourself and actually question whether your vision is realistic and translatable - you may even realise some key gaps in the capabilities of your team by doing this exercise.
So every individual should be encouraged to share what their vision of business success looks like and their role within that. What’s in it for them to grow your business?
STEP 3: What dragons lie in wait on your path to success and what weapons does your team need to slay those dragons?
There are many people out there who despise setting goals because the reality is that there is a bigger chance of you failing to achieve them. Why? Because business growth and personal growth are more about how you react, solve and learn from problems than simply setting goals and working really hard to achieve them. Most people, most leaders, most teams are too afraid of the dragons to prepare for their appearance, instead finding themselves going into battle weaponless.
If you really want to grow faster than your competitors, then you need to be ready to solve bigger problems, faster than your competitors can stomach. So ask your team - what are the dragons we need to face to earn our vision for success? What can we predict about the year to come? What has happened this past year that we still haven’t properly addressed? What problems are we putting off? What problems have we assumed are too big to solve?
And once you’ve identified some potential dragons, ask your team what weapons you need to slay them. What tools do you need to invest in, what skills do you need to learn, what areas of improvement can each individual work on to have the most impact on your growth this year? (when you are addressing the strengths and weaknesses of individuals, I recommend anonymous peer-reviewing for this! And I would actually hire a professional to lead you through this exercise if you don’t know how to do it - you don’t want to risk individuals feeling attacked or underappreciated during this process.)
STEP 4: Put together your execution plan… and expect the unexpected!
Once you know where you are going and how you can prepare to slay the obstacles that appear, it then comes down to starting to walk along the path. What are the priorities, in what order, who is responsible for what and what daily, weekly and monthly support do the team need to keep the business moving forward?
Despite your best-laid plans, it is 100% likely that your execution plan won’t be perfectly executed. Disappointment comes from unmet expectations, but if you don’t expect perfection then won’t become bogged down with ‘what could have been.’
At the end of the day - if you only achieve 75% of your goal, you're still 75% better off than you were before and you will likely have acquired the knowledge throughout the process as to how you can get to 100%... it’s only a matter of time.
If you can find a balance between urgency and patience, building a business with a team can be the most rewarding adventure - I’ve certainly found that to be true. So please do get excited by your collective aspirations, but certainly also find a way to be inspired by whatever outcome comes to pass. Take all failures and near-misses as opportunities to learn, celebrate the successes when they come but be sure to use them as a launch pad to what’s next. The most secure foundation for any growing business is your team, so look after them, empower them and tie in their own personal goals, motivations and values to your business.
Here’s to another exciting year where anything can happen...