AS we approach the end of year, let’s take time to appreciate our accomplishments and review our strategies. When the end of the year approaches, there are many loose ends to tie up.

You may be reviewing the goals you established for the year, those financial objectives, and trying to squeeze in your holiday shopping too. Alongside all of this, it is also time to start year-end planning. This article has a checklist of items that every business should take a look at, especially towards year-end.

Overview of accomplishments

Start your year-end review by taking some time to assess what you really accomplished this year. It is more than just revenue and profits or measures of statistical output. Along with accomplishments and successes, you may have experienced failures. These questions can help you weigh what worked and what didn’t, so that you can use those learning steps to make improvements to your business.

This exercise gives you the opportunity to see the bigger picture and ask more conceptual questions to help us make a more qualitative assessment of what has been happening and where we need to go.

This initiative can help you jumpstart the business next year, with a clearer focus on solving prior issues and developing solutions that drive continued growth.

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Review your systems, policies and procedures

Policies and procedures are living documents that should grow and adapt with a company. While the core elements of policy may stay the same, the details should change with time as new national policies are also amended.

At year-end, carefully examine your policies and see improvements that need to be done. Outdated policies can leave your organisation at risk and at the same time, policies may fail to comply with new laws and regulations.

They may not sync with new systems or technology, which can result in inconsistent practices for the year to come.

Regularly reviewing policies and procedures keeps your organisation up to date with regulations, technology and industry best practices. Policy review ensures that your policies are consistent and effective and that should be done at year-end to prepare for the year to come.

Annual performance reviews

Performance reviews have been universally applied in many industries across the globe because they provide excellent benefits for both employee and employer.

They offer a platform for open communication about employee evaluation, employee coaching and development and goal setting and many others. After doing these performance reviews, it is good to discuss with your employees what they can do to help the company run more smoothly. Also, you can take the opportunity to find out what they feel most passionate about in their work, and ask if there is need for improvements to help them attain set goals.

This is the right time to ask for feedback, let them suggest how they might improve their own performance and ask them what you can do to help them achieve this.

This might include further training, or perhaps altering some aspect of their job for the coming year. If you treat the performance review process seriously, then your staff will also take it seriously and they will feel appreciated.

Know your best customers, appreciate them

End of year is when companies appreciate either their suppliers or their customers in various ways. During year-end, you are to examine all your customers microscopically in terms of profitability and see who is worthy to be given a small token of appreciation.

Just because you always seem to be doing something for certain customers does not mean they are the one who are the most profitable.

When you are fully aware who they are, be sure to tell them you appreciate their business and ask if there is anything you can improve on or do differently to help them grow their business. This can be done even via formal letters thanking them for doing business together that year and assuring that you still want to continue to do business with them. 

Appreciate your internal customers (employees)

The brutally honest truth is this: It is just about impossible to have happy external customers when you have unhappy internal customers — that is, employees! Internal customers are people who make up the other departments that work inside your business.

The best people to help you solve problems, particularly those involving customers, are the ones who deal with them on a daily basis. Your employees are a reservoir (possibly untapped) of ideas about how you can make your customers happier. Hold an end-of-year forum designed to get them to share those ideas. Listening to and implementing your employees’ suggestions is a great way to make them feel like valued business partners. Your goal is to let employees know their contributions are valued and remind them that your organisation is a great place to work.

Review all your vendor contracts or suppliers

Take a close look at how much business you are doing with each supplier. Are you getting the best rates based on how much you are working together? Is the relationship mutually beneficial for you and for them? If not, do not be afraid to make a change. If you are happy with your suppliers, tell them. It is a good idea to review your suppliers’ performance at regular intervals.

A service level agreement will help you to assess the business/supplier relationship in the most objective way possible. Changing suppliers when they are not delivering according to your expectation is also a good idea in organisations. When engaging new suppliers for the following year, make sure it is done professionally so that there is no conniving with the internal employees.

What should we do next year?

The preceding questions all feed into a qualitative analysis that will help you prioritise and choose the right strategies and actions for the coming year. You will be taking time to reflect on the current year and really learn what happened, what mattered, what should matter, and how you can build on it.

Turning this reflection toward a forward-looking plan helps narrow things down to a few high-level strategic priorities for the year ahead. You should choose specific targets and goals for pursuing those priorities and start sketching out a list of projects and ongoing work that will help you get there.

Once you begin planning for the new year, one of the most important decisions is to decide what should come first. In particular, what can we do during the first three months of the year to achieve some accomplishments and make a strong start toward achieving our annual goals?

Small wins create momentum, so it is often best to start with projects and goals you can complete and achieve early on.

  • Emmanuel Zvada is a human capital consultant and international recruitment expert