Year End Review – Check Up from the Neck Up

As we go through our evaluation process, I want you to begin by answering these questions for yourself.

  • Where have you gained?
  • Where have you struggled?
  • Where did you encounter unexpected turbulence?
  • Who stepped up?
  • Who stepped back?
  • Who needs to be added?
  • Who needs to get lost?

No doubt, a lot of change has taken place in your company this year. It can be very helpful to get your own perspective or bias out of the way prior to looking at the numbers. Be aware that you don’t let these dictate the results, let the numbers speak for themselves.

Once you’ve taken into account your biases or expectations, begin by reviewing the expectations that were set internally for 2017 for each department (buying, sales, inventory, manufacturing, and production).  If you did not set goals for the prior year, now is your chance to evaluate and add departmental goals for the new year.

For the busy owner and general manager, one of the better ways to develop managers and leaders in your company is to engage them in the evaluation process by having them gather the numbers to report back to you. It can be a tedious task to run through year end evaluations, besides all companies should be working to increase employee engagement across KPIs. This makes the year end evaluation less anxious. They know what’s coming and they are now more knowledgeable on how to evaluate their progress going forward.

As you and your managers begin diving into your numbers, I find it is important to remind GM and Owners that any failures do NOT rest solely on those carrying out the tasks. This is an exercise of what WE were able to accomplish or what WE failed to accomplish. Owners and managers bear the weight of setting their team up for success, providing the right guidance, training and opportunity. Taking this stance, enables you to work on any short comings collaboratively with your key personnel.

  • Is there anything I can do to make you more successful?
  • What went wrong?
  • Do we need to make any policy or procedural changes to increase productivity or accountability?
  • What are your ideas for how to improve performance in this area?
  • Do you have the authority you need to produce the results we are expecting?

Again, this helps remove the Owner and GM from being the only one working to solve problems. Many medium to small companies stagnate and get stuck because they do not develop multiple problem solvers and leaders.

Once, you and your team have a handle on the outcomes of this past year, you can move into setting expectations for the year to come. Always start by what is the most important number or area we can focus on that will bring us the most success. By focusing on what matters most, we avoid the calamity of having 14 goals for every department and increase the likelihood of success.

Management maxims such as “if everything is important, then nothing is important” fit the bill for many floundering companies. You cannot push in all directions at the same time. Sustained progress and change comes from direct focus and attention long enough to establish a new habit. New research is showing it takes 2 months or 66 days for new behaviors to become automatic.

Set a focused goal for the year and then schedule a checkpoint to review progress to date. For most people, the progress to goal should be reviewed at or before the end of the first month to avoid loss of focus. These goals must be instilled and repeated early and then can be extended over time.

Even if the year has been disappointing, year-end reviews are the most critical for your best performers and are loathed by your worst performers. This is a time of year to recognize who stood out from the pack and give notice that the rest of the company can respond to. Your best performers, will appreciate the recognition and you can get them to set their own goals that usually drive the company forward. Your under-performers, now have to face the spotlight and can give you the chance to prepare for changes as needed. Not having some form of accountability for poor performance is detrimental to company culture as it validates what the real “standard” of performance is in your company.

 Robert Counts       Chad Counts         Johnny Logel






Robert Counts,; 512-693-6915

Chad Counts,; 512-963-4626