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Ken Keller: Questions for your company’s midyear review

Brain Food for Business Owners

Posted: July 8, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 8, 2012 1:55 a.m.

June 30 signaled the end of the first half of 2012 and the passing of the Fourth of July holiday means we are now officially in the second half of the calendar year.

Sometimes companies take time at this juncture to reflect on past performance and regroup for the push to the end of the year. It is a practice I recommend to my clients that should become a habit but not all of them take the advice.

Maybe that means they are satisfied with their results or perhaps they are so busy they don’t have time to reflect on what has taken place thus far in 2012. It could also mean they are having a horrible year and don’t want to dwell on it.

Regardless of the industry, headcount or revenue of my clients, here are nine questions that I ask to provoke serious reflection and forward-thinking:

Question one is, “Are we, as a company, better off now than we were six months ago?” This can be answered any way those participating feel comfortable doing as it lends itself to making a critical decision if things are getting better or worse.

The second question is, “What were our goals for the first half of the year, financial and otherwise, and how did we measure up to achieving them?” In the haste to determine if a company is on track it is easy to default to the financial situation to the exclusion of other critical goals the company might have set. Take time to assess the goals and the results before moving on.

“Do we have a game-changer for the second half of the year?” is the third question I ask. It could be that the first half was the set-up for a better third and fourth quarters, or maybe this question had never entered anyone’s mind. Growing companies often give consideration to bringing breakthrough products and services to the market. Can you launch it so that it impacts this year?

The fourth question is, “What do we need to stop doing because it hasn’t worked for the last six months?” If there was ever a time to consider stopping pouring resources into something that is not generating the results desired, it is at midyear.

“What didn’t work as well as we planned and needs to be changed for the second half?” is the fifth question I toss out. This refers to reviewing how well people executed against a plan to achieve a goal.

The sixth question is, “Do we need to adjust our year-end numbers and other goals at this time, and if so, what will the revised goals look like?” I never ask this question before I have worked through with the client the answers of the previous five questions because up to this point the first six months are still being looked at.

Seventh, I ask, “If we change our goals for the second half of the year, what do we need to start doing that we aren’t doing today?” I’ve discovered that new goals often provide a different way to execute and it is certainly an opportunity to consider a new path.

Next ask, “What can we do to reenergize the team, increase focus and engagement levels of everyone for our year end push?” No one can win alone, and the leader must have the entire team supporting the efforts of the organization to succeed.

Finally, I lay this challenge out, “What are we missing, not discussing, ignoring or failing to see that can increase our chances for success in the second half of the year?”

These nine questions aren’t the only questions that can be asked. Whatever your form of a midyear review is, use the questions that will allow you to have a strong second half.

Ken Keller is CEO of STAR Business Consulting Inc., a company that works with companies interested in growing top line revenue. He can be reached at Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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