Once the goals are set and plans are in place, execution takes over. Once the ball gets rolling, it is easy to just follow the momentum and keep on rolling. Therein lies the danger of being caught up in the excitement of execution that we lose sight of the goal and get off course. It is an important step to pause and review the progress of your plans and achievements and if necessary make adjustments to your plans and even goals.
I survived a world of reviews. Weekly, monthly, quarterly, half yearly and yearly and that’s not counting the daily meetings. One of the many learnings from that world is that reviews done with the right purpose and outcome is powerful. However, unless it is conducted with the right intention and atmosphere, it generally goes downhill if questions are asked to find fault vs. to build a constructive conversation of identifying areas of improvement. So let’s just say that I have a great amount of experience in this area.
For those who are new to the review process, there are a few structures that you can put in place to ensure that progress review is part of your action plans:
- Set the Review upfront: Ensure that you set aside time on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. At the start of the execution phase, ensure that you have more frequent review cycles as this will ensure that you take stock of the execution of the plan and closely monitoring the outcome or response.
- Be clear on what you are to review and the desired outcome of the review. This is critical to ensure that the review is productive and the outcome is clear and actionable. It is also important to ensure that the participants as well as yourself come out of it motivated and ready to put the plans into action.
- Schedule it in your calendar: Yes, it might seem like a no-brainer, but unless it is in your calendar, it will not happen. The tendency to push it back or even forget is there.
- Get the team together: If you have a team, ensure that you get them together for the review. It is always good to get everyone on the same page and to gather feedback.
- End it on a “positive”. Acknowledge the work, effort and results. Remove barriers if possible. Encourage the next steps. Stay focus on the goal.
A few simple tips to ensure a productive review meeting:
- A review template. Yes, it sounds scary but a template ensures that everyone knows what is being measured and how it is tracking vs. the goals assigned.
- Review template key components. The review template must have key components:
- Strategies or Goals being measured
- Critical success factors
- Key dependencies
- Action Items and Ownership
- Don’t over engineer or complicate the review template. The review template is NOT meant to track and measure every single activity. You can have that as part of the project plan but NOT a review template. The template should just measure key outcomes.
- Don’t over analyze and have analysis paralysis. There a great tendency to over do a review session. Bear in mind the purpose of the review and that is to know how you are progressing and to take necessary actions to course correct or continue.
- Clear ownership and assignments of task. At the end of the review meeting, everyone should be clear of the progress and action items that needs to take place. Assigning clear ownership and timeline is critical to any campaign coming together.
Some simple steps to ask yourself when you are reviewing your progress:
- What is the purpose of the review?
- What are the key areas that needs to be reviewed?
- At what stage am I over analyzing?
- Are there enough insights from the review to build a good set of action plans?
- Are the plans achievable or just a wish?
- Am I clear on the outcome?
- Is it time to stop?
Analyzing and reviewing is a necessary part of any plans to ensure that we are on track and if required, to make the adjustments. Without this step, plans will not go as plan. So take the time and stop and review.