Mid-year strikes – is your business’s destiny secure or teetering on the edge?
As we leave the first half and enter the second half of 2023, how are you doing against the goals and objectives you set for yourself and your business?
After all, it’s been a tough start for most people around the world: inflation continues high, as do interest rates, Europe continues to feel the effects of the war in Ukraine, the US elections looming next year, like those in the UK which are due a couple of months later, seem to have an aura of indecision mixed with growing political conflict about them, and China continues its sabre-rattling. In South Africa we are also facing elections next year, with the consequent political posturing impacting sentiment here and our record unemployment rates reflecting business confidence levels at historic lows.
So, with all this going on, it’s difficult to believe that in the fast-paced world of business, where time is money and goals are the driving force, one essential practice often gets overlooked – the mid-year review. And in uncertain times, doing this is even more important.
After all, how often do we pause, take a step back, and evaluate progress? The mid-year review is more than just a check-in; it’s a vital tool for assessing where we stand, realigning our objectives if needed, and setting ourselves up for a great second half.
In this article, we’ll explore how the mid-year review can be structured to be a real game-changer for a business and propel it towards success. So, let’s dive in and discover the power of this invaluable practice.
Where to start?
While the prospect of a mid-year review can seem daunting, it need not be, and a good place to start is to look at your numbers to date – whether you use OKRs, KPIs or another system for measuring and tracking performance.
Starting with the basic figures – revenue, profitability, costs and cash-flow – will typically highlight where to focus next in order to understand how these numbers were arrived at.
If your revenue is down, for example, have your costs decreased proportionally? If not, you’ll need to take a close look at how to decrease costs and/or increase revenue in the second half to retain profitability.
If your cash flow is suffering, you will need to understand which of the levers are out of balance and what to do about this, and so on.
And remember, too, it’s not just numbers that are below expectations that you need to consider; those that are ahead of where you budgeted also need evaluating to understand whether this trend is likely to continue as well as the impact on cash-flow, costs / staff, and so on.
We know the numbers, now what?
This is where the analysis comes in. Initially, decide which numbers need to be understood at a deeper level, and the impact of them on the business as a whole in terms of your goals and objectives for the year.
And then consider what the effects of the changes experienced so far this year could be on your business vision, mission, and values, if any.
This will give you a basis for looking at things more deeply, and this is where you can also start to involve your team more.
Call a brief meeting (30 minutes should do it) to present your findings and thinking at this point – where the company is tracking against expectations for the year, what it is you need to understand and a deeper level and what the impact of the changes could be to the business as a whole. Then ask the team members to go away and look specifically into the numbers within their areas of responsibility and authority, so they can report back on their findings and their suggestions, considering, too, the impacts on the business as a whole (vision, mission, values, etc.).
Perhaps a way for them to frame this would be one where they look back and see what they might have done differently, if anything, and how they would go through this material if a new CEO was starting who had no real experience of the company.
Give a clear deadline – preferably no more than a week – for this work to be completed and set the follow-up meeting / workshop day and time, allowing 2-4 hours for it, depending on company size.
As with any business meeting, this needs a clear agenda (sent out well ahead of the meeting), minutes and a chair. In this case, the CEO should chair the meeting. Either bring in somebody to take minutes or record the meeting and have it transcribed, with minutes derived from this by one of the many AI tools around.
If the latter approach is used, the CEO should check the AI minutes for sense and correctness before making them available to the team. Minutes should be distributed within a day of the meeting.
A structure for the meeting which is often successful is one where the CEO, followed by each team member in turn, presents their findings and potential actions in a concise summary of no more than 5, or so, minutes each. This allows for a complete picture as some of the findings may overlap with others.
Thereafter the Chair (CEO) leads the discussion, section by section, to agree a set of actions for each, including any appropriate changes to structure, resources and opportunities to overcome possible obstacles, that will form the basis for the rest of the year’s performance, allowing 15-30 minutes (depending on complexity) for each section. These will be combined, according to company structure, into higher levels and ultimately the company’s overall set, including any necessary changes to vision, mission and/or values (although these changes are rare in a mid-year review).
These actions will, in turn, be translated into the OKRs / KPIs that are set for everyone for the remainder of the year.
And one more point to bear in mind: if you are making changes to the budgets for the rest of the year, do not give into the temptation of revising them for the period gone, to reflect those results. Nor should they be revised more than once during the year, for if people know that the budgets can always be changed to fit what happened, they won’t be motivated to achieve that which was initially agreed.
As the article in Forbes, referenced at the end of this post, says, “Every business plan reflects a tension between planning and flexibility… However, slavish devotion to a plan may cause missed opportunities or even fatal pursuit of a flawed strategy. So business leaders need to find the balance.”
The mid-year review gives you the opportunity to reset the clock, so to speak, and put your business on a path to greater success in the months ahead by clarifying the goals and re-energising your team.
So, remembering the words of the Ghanaian author and teacher, Ernest Agyemang Yeboah, hopefully, despite the storm clouds around us, you’re remaining vigorous and will tenaciously tackle the reast of the year with a focus on your goals.
Will you be undertaking a mid-year review of your business? Comment below – I read and respond to every comment.
If you’d like to read further, these related posts might be of interest:
- “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Dwight Eisenhower
- “The future belongs to those who plan for it.” – Jim Moran
- OKR – Measuring What Matters
- “Doing Things is Not the Same as Getting Things Done” – Jared Silver
- “There’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst.” – Stephen King
- “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn
- Are You Running Your Business or Leading It?
- “Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.” – Zig Ziglar
- Inflation – Reducing the Risks to Your Business with the 5 Cs
- Planning to De-Risk Your Business Against Future Threats
- “There is nothing permanent except change.” – Heraclitus
- Drive your Business by Looking Through the Windscreen Not the Rear-View Mirror
- The Power of Accountable Leadership
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