Moving Forward by Looking Back at 2014

There’s nothing like a new year to inspire a fresh start and set intentions for more productive work habits.

Evaluating our performance over the past year, individually and as a team, can reap great rewards when done in the right spirit and without excessive criticism. Mistakes can be painful, so we tend to learn more from them than our successes.

Ringing in 2015

Each new year is like a second chance to polish attitudes and actions. Do you procrastinate over projects for fear you won’t achieve perfection? Are you a good listener and take advice with grace, or are you defensive and resist valid opinions about your performance?

Now is a good time to revisit your company’s accomplishments and share them with staff. Then be realistic about setting goals for 2015. Identify a few top priorities and share them publicly to create accountability, said Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of Business Psychology at University College London, in a recent Harvard Business Review article.

Choosing more than three goals a year can be overwhelming and set you up for failure, Chamorro-Premuzic said. He recommends that we develop an action plan outlining small steps that can be taken one at a time, arrange a supportive network for encouragement when the going gets tough, and set reasonable milestones to stay on track.

Here are some steps to help guide our 2014 business review:

  • Lessons learned from our biggest success and failures can help us better serve customers. Is there a customer service problem that remains unsolved? What would it take to win back an unhappy customer?
  • What challenges did we meet last year and what did we learn from those experiences?
  • Have we done a good job of recognizing employees for their competence, collaboration, and problem solving skills? What can we do to motivate them and promote a work-life balance so everyone comes to work with fresh ideas and perspectives?
  • We often overlook ways to save time and money. Is there software that can improve our work process? Could we hire an expert to help resolve our greatest weaknesses and help us see things we’re not seeing?
  • Are we maximizing our relationships with vendors and contractors?
  • Evaluating how other companies attracted or drove away customers can be a real boost to the year in review process. What can we learn from their mistakes and successes? What did they do to make you feel valued, and how could we adopt those practices?

This guest post is by Caren Burmeister. Caren is a retired newspaper reporter turned freelance writer who enjoys yoga and caring for her two fat cats.