The Quarterly Review: 9 Questions to Help You Stay the Course and Adjust with Confidence
Ensure that you’re embracing positive changes, and addressing wins and missteps productively.
When it comes to business, planning is an ongoing and continued process.
Wouldn’t it be great if planning and goal-setting were a one-and-done deal? If only we could plan every step just once, never waiver, and achieve all our goals. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
Most of us started the year with lofty goals and a lot of energy (I can do #allthethings!). Too often that energy begins to lag after three months of slogging through the trenches, especially during the darker months. Before we move on to all the new and exciting things that Q2 promises, we need to take stock of where we’ve been, what we’ve accomplished, and what we may have missed. This important pause allows us to accurately realign our Q2 plans with our long-term goals.
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Keep in mind that as we grow and change, the best path towards our goals can shift (and that if we’re planning effectively, we’ll always be changing our plans). Sometimes, even the goals themselves can shift. This is where quarterly reviews come in to help you stay on track (or relocate your track completely). Below I’ve outlined our own quarterly review process we use here at PF, so grab your coffee and strap in because we are really into our quarterly reviews.
1. Check In On Your Yearly Goals and Quarterly Objectives
It’s important to note where you started the year and where you started the quarter. This allows you to calibrate your measuring stick and ensure that your evaluations will be accurate. It also helps you analyze your growth more efficiently. The first step in staying the course and/or adjusting with confidence is to make sure your metrics are correct. Take a few moments to look over your yearly goals and quarterly objectives (AKA review your starting points).
2. What Were Your Major Wins?
On your list of quarterly objectives, take the time to mark the wins and truly honor the work that went into making them happen. It’s easy to brush off the little steps you’ve taken, but when you remember the space these accomplishments hold as you move toward your goals, you’ll quickly realize these little steps are vital and worth celebrating. Remember, there’s only one way to eat an entire pan of fudgy brownies — one bite at a time. :)
3. What Projects Emerged and What Got Displaced?
Often, things shift throughout the quarter. Some of these shifts are good and healthy. Other shifts occur due to distractions, staffing shifts, or demand changes. To get a true picture of your quarter and map your next quarter effectively, you’ll want to note what projects emerged over the quarter that weren’t on your original plan and why. You’ll also want to do the same for any projects or objectives that got displaced.
4. What Were Your Major Setbacks or Challenges?
Take a moment to list any setbacks or challenges you’ve encountered this quarter. Part of this may be some of your “Why” from what got displaced, and it may also include sicknesses, impromptu travel, things out of your control, family-related things, etc. Answering this question should help give some support to what got displaced and help you as you’re looking at your Q2 objectives: Will any of these setbacks/challenges affect what you’re planning in Q2? Do you need to account for the possibility of any of these seeping over into Q2?
5. What Are New or Sustained Best Practices to Continue Implementing?
Review your major wins. What made them major wins? Are there any underlying best practices you used to make them major wins? Are those best practices new this quarter or just ones that need to be highlighted as a reminder that they work? Noting these best practices will help give thanks where thanks is due and serve as a reminder to use them more as you move into the next quarter(s).
6. What Are Your Growth Edges?
Based on what happened in Q1, where do you feel like there’s room for growth? Sometimes these growth edges come as questions, which is fine. Some of our recent ones were “What’s it look like when we have a fully functioning marketing team?” and “How do we get Charlie creating consistent content for PF and other places while getting ready for the book launch?”. These are not items that need to be answered or dealt with right away, but they’re important to get written down and revisited. If the same growth edge shows up quarter after quarter, you know you’ve got something that needs more urgent action. Growth edges are something we are consistently looking at from previous quarters. As I’m preparing Q1’s review, I’m definitely looking at Q4’s growth edges to see if there’s a trend and something we need to address in the upcoming quarter.
7. Where Are Your Places of Stagnation?
In other words: What’s the dead weight? What’s stalled and just not getting anywhere? Is “this thing” still worth doing? These can be anything that you think needs a deeper look to know if your time, energy, and attention should be focused on them or decidedly not focused on them. Dive in or leave ‘em behind! Going through this list can help set your focus for what’s coming up in Q2. This is also a section like Growth Edges that deserves review from quarter to quarter. If something is consistently showing up as stagnant, something’s gotta give.
8. Where Are Your Places of Strategic Uncertainty?
Here’s your chance to ZOOM UP and take a look at the bigger strategic picture. Often these places of uncertainty form themselves into questions. Some of our recent ones have been “How will the Campfire and community engagement evolve?” and “How will Amazon sales of the Momentum Planner affect our total sales, brand lift, and operations?” This is the time to think about those big questions. They need to go somewhere and a quarterly review is a great place for them (they may also inform how your next quarter shapes up). You don’t want those questions sitting until that yearly or bi-annual strategy meeting. Get ‘em out and, again, this is a section to review quarter to quarter. If the same uncertain strategic questions keep being uncertain, you may end up adjusting your yearly goals or quarterly objectives to include leaning in to answering some of them.
9. What Are You Doing Going Forward?
Once you’re reminded of your starting point, have analyzed where you’ve been, and assessed changes, you’re poised to make informed decisions about your Q2 plan.
Some more questions to think about as you’re planning your next quarter:
Have I collected new information in my review that alters my yearly goals?
Have I learned some things about myself and how I work that need to be taken into consideration?
Has my team changed?
Have new priorities emerged?
Your responses to these questions will allow you to know where you need to adjust your Q2 plans so that your yearly plans will still succeed.
This entire process ensures that you’re embracing positive changes, addressing wins and missteps productively, and asking the right questions all while staying on track to achieve your yearly goals. (Tweet this.)
When a small business owner or entrepreneur plans ahead or does yearly business planning, it is always important to review the plan, analyze the progress, assess what changes have presented themselves, then adjust.
So what are you waiting for? Now it’s your turn to review, adjust, and plan. We promise it’s worth it. :)