Every great business leader knows to take some time at the end of each year to reflect and look for ways to improve—as a team, as well as individually. Reviewing the year prior in detail is what allows a successful leader to see what went right, what could have been done better, and ultimately how to adjust the business and improve moving forward.
Reflection is the perfect example of taking one step back in order to take two powerful steps forward.
Arash Shirazi, CEO of the The Bullitt Agency, is no novice when it comes to end of the year reflection. In fact, having led his successful company for over a decade and worked with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, he knows the true value of looking back on what worked the year prior and finding ways to continue the momentum.
“Part of leadership is agility,” he said. “Being malleable and able to make important changes on the fly.”
Review The Goals You Set At The Beginning Of Last Year
Look back to the year prior and the goals you had set for yourself, your team, and your business. Did you achieve them? Or, better yet, did you even track them? If you didn’t, then that’s a clear sign of what you need to prioritize and work on this coming year—measuring your success. If you didn’t achieve the goals you had set, what went wrong? Look for places in your process where there was ambiguity, or people were unclear of what to do in order to be successful.
“Often times, it comes down to a lack of understanding somewhere along the line,” said Shirazi. “People are smart, and can perform well if you give them good directions. So, especially as a leader, if your team falls short, you need to look at how you can help be more clear the next time around with what you’re asking for.”
Gather Feedback From Your Team
360 degree feedback is crucial, said Shirazi.
“I’m not a big fan of end-of-year reviews, but rather gathering feedback in real time. But we do schedule year-end reviews to discuss topics such as performance metrics and employee satisfaction.”
Leaders, take note: end of the year reviews are not reserved just for upper level management. In fact, integrating feedback from the team members in the trenches is where you can learn the most about what’s working and what’s not. It’s about keeping that door for communication open so that all voices can be heard, and perspectives can be shared. That way, nothing goes unresolved.
Set New Goals For The Year To Follow
Everyone on your team needs to be part of this exercise. Again, this isn’t just for the CEO, or the team’s managers and leaders. “I really try to foster an environment where my staff is constantly learning, and hopefully I can guide them to reach their professional and personal goals.” Everyone should always be doing something to improve themselves, and measuring that over time is essential—otherwise how else will you truly know if you achieved your goal?
“We have everybody create development goals for the forthcoming year, including personal goals for themselves,” said Shirazi. “For example, some people might want more free time, or to take up a hobby, spend time working abroad at our Barcelona office, set fitness goals, etc. These are things we as an organization want to know so that we can not only be aware of what motivates them, but so we can do whatever we can to actually help them achieve those goals as well. Their personal fulfillment impacts the work they do in their career, so we see the two going hand-in-hand.”
Pick A Mantra
“My mantra for 2016 was AGILITY,” he said. “In business and one’s personal life, you have to constantly be agile and ready to respond. In business, this means whatever is happening in the market. In life, it’s what goes into staying happy, healthy, and focused.”
He went on to explain that your mantra is what drives your motivation forward, and helps you stay on track with the goals you set before yourself. Many leaders have shared a similar perspective, believing in the power of positive thinking, and even writing down what it is you want to achieve and deliberately re-reading your mantra or mission back to yourself daily. The famous self-development guru, Napoleon Hill, would call this your “Chief Aim.”
“At the end of the day, it’s about being deliberate with your process,” said Shirazi. “Too many people arbitrarily set goals, half-heartedly reflect, or set goals without measuring success. No. Block off an entire day or two, and do nothing but look back at the 365 days that you just journeyed through. Take a good hard look, and you will find plenty to work on. And then the key is constantly keeping tabs on those things each quarter the year to follow. But if you’re not deliberate and intentional, you are going to miss the important stuff—and you’ll be in the same spot you are right now, next year.”
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Nicolas Cole is a writer and essayist, and Top Writer on Quora with over 10,000,000 views. His work has been published in Time, Forbes, Fortune, Inc., The Huffington Post, Business Insider, and more. He is a columnist for Inc Magazine and is best known for writing true stories about self-development. You can follow him on Twitter @Nicolascole77