Herzlich writes the Small Business column in Newsday.
The midyear mark has already come and gone. If your company isn't on course to meet its performance objectives, then time is of the essence to make some changes.
According to a recent survey of small and midsized businesses by Insperity Inc., 71 percent of respondents say they are meeting or exceeding their starting 2015 performance objectives, down from 79 percent in July 2014 and 74 percent in April.
With the clock ticking to year-end, having an open dialogue with staff and re-evaluating your objectives to make sure they were realistic can prevent your company from falling short.
"It's a great time to step back and take stock of where you are to make sure you are on the right path," says Rick Gibbs, a performance specialist for the Melville and Manhattan offices of Insperity, a provider of human resources and business performance solutions.
This should be ongoing from the very beginning, he advises.
"Keeping it right in front of you is more effective in preventing the year-end scramble," he notes.
Regular review. Companies should be doing a scoreboard review of critical areas monthly or even weekly with each team, such as marketing and customer service, to assess progress, he advises.
It could be a regular agenda item at your meetings, and each team should have its own scoreboard review to keep a constant eye on how it's doing, Gibbs says.
This ensures you're on course, instead of hitting the end of the year and finding that all you have to show for your strategic planning efforts are SPOTS -- strategic plans on top shelves, says Kimberly Douglas, president of FireFly Facilitation Inc., an Atlanta-based management consultancy firm, and author of "The Firefly Effect" (Wiley; $24.95).
Make a road map. Often companies have some big targets they want to meet but don't have a road map to get there, she notes. She advises clients to come up with a road map -- two pages, tops -- with the various milestones that need to be met for the company to meet its performance objectives.
This road map should be visible to each staff member at every staff meeting, where a quick assessment can be done on each milestone, with employees categorizing them as green (on target), yellow (in potential danger of not hitting) or red (at immediate risk of not meeting the objective), Douglas says.
Quarterly checks. Each quarter assess what you accomplished and what more needs to be done, she notes.
Get feedback. "Obtaining feedback from your team is extremely important," says Jerry S. Siegel, president of JASB Management Inc., a Syosset-based management training and development firm.
If they're falling short, it's important to hear their input on why they have been unable to meet the objectives, he notes.
Perhaps the goals weren't realistic, he says, adding that goals need to be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and tangible.
They require action steps to be accomplished, but those steps may need to be revised over time because "there will always be obstacles, roadblocks and setbacks," Siegel says.
Team, common goals. There should be goals for individual teams as well as overall company goals, says Keith Simmons, a Bay Shore-based partner at B2B CFO, an on-call chief financial officer firm. "Individuals perform better when they clearly understand how their individual goals support corporate objectives," he notes.
And top management needs to be supportive in helping staff meet those goals, which may require added resources or training, he notes. This kind of support should be ongoing.
The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to achieve your objectives, Simmons says.