Five ways to position your business for growth in 2020

Business owners and leaders, beware: January will be here before you know it. With that inescapable reality in mind, consider the following strategies you can use right now to ensure your business is positioned for maximum growth in 2020.

Get specific about what success in 2020 looks like. When you’re communicating with your teams, break down each team’s goals into behaviors that people can understand and buy into. For instance: Don’t just keep repeating the sales team’s annual or quarterly financial goal. Break those numbers down into specific behaviors for both the team and the individual. How many initial discussions with potential buyers need to occur for the person, or the team, to hit that quarterly goal? Set up a “cookbook” for everyone that outlines specific daily, and weekly, behaviors necessary for the team to hit the target.

Get each team leader to validate his or her team’s goal and timelines. Do this in a one-on-one meeting with the direct report. Your direct report should be able to communicate his team’s exact deliverable for the coming year. Make sure the discussion is supportive, positive and clear—with no room for “I didn’t understand what you meant.” Why is this step so important? Think of your own interactions with your kids. Just telling them something they’re supposed to do doesn’t always sink in. You need to have a tactful, engaged conversation that clearly indicates the message really has been received—and bought into. Make sure there are no disconnects about the expectations.

Don’t just focus on the “what,” focus on the “how.” Ask each manager to share with you how the team is going to reach the key benchmarks that support the team’s goal. Do a little brainstorming together. Ask the manager about potential roadblocks they may encounter and figure out some possible solutions for these issues ahead of time. Have that conversation early. Your direct reports will appreciate this. Most leaders simply announce what the team is supposed to deliver, then dust off their hands and walk away—which is actually the opposite of leadership.

Set up the calendar. Don’t assume one meeting will give your direct reports everything they need from you, or answer every question they have. Figure out what the team’s key deliverables are, and when those deliverables are due … and then schedule additional meetings that come slightly before each of those dates. There should be time for check-in meetings, set aside in each of your calendars, so you can briefly share feedback with each other about how things are going, what kind of progress is being made toward the annual goal, and the best ways to handle any new challenges that may have emerged.

Compensate and reward at the individual level, not just the organizational level. Your compensation and bonus system should connect to annual organizational goals, but it also should allow you (and your direct reports) to have meaningful conversations about why the goal is important on the personal level. For instance: “If we hit this quarterly goal, Tom, you’ll get a bonus of X dollars—and just out of curiosity, what would you do with that money if it came through?” In other words, find out what the goal could really mean to the individual employee, and help the employee connect the dots between what the company is trying to achieve and how it lines up with what he or she is trying to achieve personally. When those two goals are well-aligned, anything is possible.

Jim Marshall is owner and president of Sandler Training of Tampa Bay, which provides sales, corporate and management training to high-achieving companies and individuals. Contact him at 813.287.1500 or

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