In the first quarter of any new year, it’s standard practice to have a pow wow to define this year’s business goals. Think of it as a mini business plan for the year. The most unfortunate thing here is having a group of people sit around the table with blank stares, struggling to come up with ideas. This happens often and it’s essentially a total waste of everyone’s time – not to mention a morale degrader.

To skirt around a disastrous first quarter goals meeting, try giving everyone a good two week’s notice letting them know this is coming up. Then set expectations:

1.What’s the goal of this meeting?

Are you looking for ideas to increase brand recognition, sales, quality of clients, personal productivity?

2.Set clear expectations of where you want to see goals defined.

Should each person come up with items only relevant to their department, for example?

My recommendation here would be to have all areas target. So for example, at the time when the meeting is set, you could also attach a goal worksheet for team members to fill out that could look something like this:
First Quarter Goals
Please take a moment to fill out the questions below with thorough answers. We’ll be ground around the table asking everyone to share their answers, and then integrating the strongest recommendations.

Review

Where do you feel we fell short last year as a department, a company, as managers?
What personal goals did you set for last year that you were able to meet? How do you feel this helped you in your position?

Forecast

What do you see as a target area(s) for the New Year? Is there an industry we should be more aggressive about? Is there perhaps a underlying internal weakness we need to overcome?
What do you predict is our growth potential as a company for the next year if absolutely nothing changes?

Goal Setting: Personal, Department, Organization

1.List 3 areas where you would like to make a personal professional improvements in the next year? This could be either an area of improvement or a direction that would benefit the company as we continue to grow.
a. Why is this important to you?
b. How will it benefit the company?
c. What do we need to do to make this happen?

2.List 3 areas where you would like to see improvement in your department, with either the overall structure, flow and/or with the colleagues within your department. This could be either an area of improvement or a direction that would benefit the company as we continue to grow.
a. Why is this important to you?
b. How will it benefit the company?
c. What do we need to do to make this happen?

3.List 3 areas where you would like to see improvements as an organization. This could be either an area of improvement or a direction that would benefit the company as we continue to grow.
a. Why is this important to you?
b. How will it benefit the company?
c. What do we need to do to make this happen?

Wildcard Question

This is an optional question. Top three winners get $25, $50 and $100 gift cards. Submit as many ideas as you like; each idea is considered one entry, so 5 ideas are five different entries for a prize.

What is something creative we can do to further our organization in the following areas: sales, press and public relations, branding, client relations? The best answer will be one that ties in more than one area.

Save this worksheet as a PDF and attach it to your meeting invite, along with sharing the link. Since some of these questions require peer review, let it be known that peer review questions won’t be shared publicly, but that management will review all the answers. In the interest of time, the composite answers from the staff company-wide can also be submitted privately, at which time department managers can collate answers in advance of the goal setting meeting.