Beyond the Numbers: A Year in Review

Welcome to December — and the all-too-familiar fourth-quarter slump in which so many businesses find themselves. Maybe we failed to meet our benchmark in this area. Maybe our metrics for that area are way off course. Maybe we completely forgot about those areas. But maybe, just maybe, we also need to reassess.

The Big-Picture Mindset

While the bottom line is always important (it’s business, after all), sometimes the numbers inadvertently paint a much more dismal picture. As business leaders, we place such a high value on numerical success that we sometimes fail to recognize the progress we make in other, more qualitative areas — the same progress that ultimately drives new business and innovation.

With that said, when entering into your company’s yearly performance assessment, it’s important to keep an open mind. Getting too bogged down in metrics can lead to over-corrections and unnecessary stress at an already tense time of year. Instead, try making a list of failures and successes for both your quantitative and qualitative goals.

While some of your numerical benchmarks may not have been met, you’ll find that the qualitative achievements you’ve gained help to close what once was a massive gap in AGI. But wait a minute! How can you determine the true value of something like an award or software upgrade or seminar? How can we know for sure that our qualitative accomplishments translate to anything tangible?

Qualitative Areas of Assessment

Where we fail in metrics, we sometimes make up for in progress. To prove progress, though, you must analyze the success of any improvements, upgrades and investments that you made during the year. Not only does this provide your team with a sense of its value (albeit estimated and non-numerical), but it also makes advocating for future investments easier. When performing your annual review, keep the following areas of qualitative assessment in mind:

Industry Clout: Is your trophy case in need of expansion? Did your team bag a few new accolades this year? Although these achievements won’t increase your bottom line directly, they definitely help drive new business down the road.

KEY WINS:

  • Industry awards from competition submissions
  • Recognition from related industry publications
  • New certifications or licenses obtained by your business

Market Expansion & Diversification: Maybe your business is in the process of reaching new markets. While this sounds simple in print, the process is anything but (and requires serious investment, too). New marketing collateral and outreach initiatives can come at a hard cost, sometimes leading to a downturn in AGI. However, the benefits of diversification can become invaluable in the long run, leading to financial stability and new clients.

KEY WINS:

  • Completion of new marketing collateral and strategies for an unsaturated market
  • Lead generation materials made live for new market
  • Professional development conferences and/or classes attended for new market insights

Operational Infrastructure: From time to time, every team needs a “building year” to restructure, reorganize and reassess. These introspective periods require significant investment, unfortunately, but can lead to big leaps in software proficiencies, work equipment quality and facility upgrades. With better tools and increased knowledge, your team is now equipped to best competitors and provide higher quality products to clients, which means more future business for you!

KEY WINS:

  • Upgraded softwares and training for team members
  • New equipment for product creation or service offerings
  • New or remodeled facility spaces for team activities or work areas
  • Streamlined processes for increased efficiency

Businesses pour large sums of revenue into these categories each year, but many fail to perform any kind of follow-up. Was that conference worth the trip? Did that software increase efficiency? How has the new facility improved productivity? Don’t let this lack of post-assessment cost you valuable insights into the worth of your qualitative investments.

Keeping Spirits Bright

Remember, the numbers are only part of your yearly snapshot. Understanding how those investments have affected various facets of your company are vital for growth and future spending. So, shoot for a more holistic view with some analysis of the qualitative investments you’ve made. Trust us, the bigger picture always looks better!

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