How to Keep Employees Accountable for Key Results in the New Year

Read the original article published on Inc. Magazine: This Is the Number 1 Practice That Can Catapult Your Success in 2018 – and 85 Percent of Companies Don’t Do It

Out with the old, in with the new! Above all else, a new year brings change, which can come in the form of positive progress, like new markets and technological advancements, or unexpected shifts, such as new industry regulations.

While consistency is certainly critical, remaining too rigid and unwilling to embrace the changes that come your way can easily cause your company to fall behind. In order to remain successful, it is essential to embrace such changes and adjust your Key Results accordingly. It’s not always easy, but when change comes knocking, it’s important to answer.

Change Brings Opportunity

In industries that value predictability above all, changing your goals isn’t always rewarded. Rather than being celebrated as a sign of agility, changing tack midstream may draw doubts about a leader’s vision and expertise. These attitudes lead to a change-averse environment where obsolete Key Results remain in place despite unexpected changes that have rendered them irrelevant.

A company that refuses to acknowledge and adapt to change is like an ostrich with its head in the sand. Changes in the competitive landscape do occur, and they must be addressed. If a competitor beats you to market with a similar product, for example, your first mover advantage is erased, and your entire strategy will need to be reformulated. How leaders react in the face of such unforeseen obstacles can speak volumes about their chances of long-term success.

Consider, for example, how Papa John’s and Domino’s restaurants reacted to the slump in casual dining following the recession in 2008. As Domino’s stock fell, the company cited the economic downturn as an excuse for their decline in revenue. In contrast, Papa John’s reacted to these same conditions in a more productive way, changing their marketing strategy such that their stock prices actually rose during the recession.

Focus on a Results-Based Accountability Program in the New Year

That being said, not all organizational goals are created equal. While smaller targets should shift alongside changes in the marketplace, your company’s Key Results should only be recalibrated mid-year in the most extreme circumstances. That’s why it’s crucial to establish meaningful, measurable, and memorable Key Results at the start of Q1 to keep your employees accountable for results throughout the year to come.

Key Results must have meaning to every member of the company, from entry-level employees to the C-suite, and they must be measurable — meaning that progress towards these goals can be quantified in a tangible way. In short, Key Results are the definition of what winning the game looks like for the year, and they serve as a yardstick against which every employee can measure their progress.

Above all else, your company’s Key Results must be memorable. First, they must be memorable to employees, so that the whole team maintains focus on the goals they are working towards and remains steadfast in this pursuit. Secondly, they must have a lasting impact on outsiders, including investors, competitors, and key decision-makers. At their very heart, your organization’s Key Results should demonstrate the strengths of your company, serving as a proxy for the culture, beliefs, and values that define your organization.

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