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Kenneth W. Keller: The business owner’s mid-year checklist

Posted: July 7, 2009 4:13 p.m.
Updated: July 8, 2009 4:30 a.m.
 
Early July signals an opportunity to review, refocus and renew.

Every owner is typically overwhelmed but conducting periodic review and planning sessions is an essential part of success. Here is a guide for conducting a mid year evaluation.  

What were my priorities at the start of the year? Did I make satisfactory progress? If not, why not? If so, what were the results? What are my priorities for the second half of the year?

Have I personally performed formal performance evaluations for every person who reports directly to me? Have I made certain that all of my direct reports have actually had one-on-one meetings to discuss performance with those that work for them? Have I seen those written evaluations, reviewed them and made appropriate comments?

Am I calendaring and conducting one-on-one meetings with those who report directly to me? Am I monitoring the one-on-one meetings my direct reports should be having with those that report to them? Am I enforcing this policy?

Since considerable time is spent in meetings, how effective are they? Are we improving the process of how we conduct meetings, or are they less effective than at the beginning of the year? What are five things we could do to make our meetings more effective?

When it comes to leadership, am I truly leading by example? Does my entire management team understand the standard that I set for myself is the standard I expect for them to set?

Have I met in person with significant clients in the first half of the year? Am I regularly in contact with other clients to see what kind of opportunities and challenges they are having? Do I ask about problems that clients are having with my company and am I working to eliminate or reduce those challenges?

Have I spent enough time with those in sales and marketing to insure that they have enough quality leads? Have I reviewed the process to make sure that leads that come to us are not forgotten or set aside, but are responded to professionally and timely?

Does my sales team have specific objectives for specific periods of time? Has anyone reviewed how each salesperson is doing compared to the objectives that have been set? What, if any, corrective action has been taken in the first half of the year to close the gap between plan and results? What will we do about the second half of the year?

Are my sales people improving their sales skills or are they declining? What is the company doing to make them better sales people and what are they doing as individuals to improve? Can we start an in-house sales training program? Should we bring in someone from the outside to conduct training?

Have I reviewed the organizational chart in the first six months of the year? Am I satisfied that the current lines of reporting are the most efficient way to run this business? Does anyone have too many direct reports working for them so as to hinder communication and execution of responsibilities?

Are we training every employee? How much and what kind of formal training has taken place in the first six months of the year? What additional areas, topics and responsibilities do people need more education in? Are we ‘throwing” people into jobs and giving them responsibilities before they are ready? Does every employee have the authority to do the job they hold?  

Have we been able to reduce operating costs and expenses in the first half of the year? Has the management team been leading by example to demonstrate how to operate more efficiently and by operating with what we have as opposed to purchasing things that would be nice to have?

Where else in the company could we reduce expenses?

How much time do I spend reviewing the financial and operational business plan for the year? Am I having a monthly financial review with my finance team to see where we are ahead and where we are behind? Am I getting specific recommendations from the team that the company can take action on?

Have I searched for financial leaks in the first six months of the year? Have I met with my insurance advisor to review coverage? Have I met with my business attorney for a review?

Have I met with my labor attorney to discuss changes in the law that might affect my company?

Have I met with my tax advisor? Have I met with my estate planning attorney? Is there any other external support I need that I do not have at present?

This review consists of fifty questions created to challenge and provoke. A full six months remain in the year with plenty of time remaining to achieve goals and end the year on a positive note. There is no time like the present to review where you’ve been and where you are going.

Ken Keller is president of Renaissance Executive Forums, which brings business owners together in facilitated peer advisory boards. His column represents his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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