We’ve talked about the value of annual meetings to help summarize the year that was and to look at the year to come. One of the tools you can use to frame an entire year is a watchword.
Some may already be familiar with watchwords as a tool for personal development. A watchword is a word or phrase that expresses a core aim or belief. For example, people might choose “family” or “fitness” or “love” to help them stay focused on a particular goal that year.
Now a watchword doesn’t do well on its own. It has to be tied to specific routines and KPIs in order to have an effect. If you claim your watchword for a given year is “fitness” and you have no fitness plans or goals, that watchword will become a joke, like “fit-ness whole pizza in my mouth.”
If you haven’t had a business watchword for the year before, the best time to implement it would be at the year-end meeting or something similar. Employees are then given a sense of what the next year will be about, and that word will be something to rally around all year.
How to Determine a Business Watchword
There are many questions business owners can ask themselves to determine a watchword:
- What does the business need more of in the year ahead?
- What does it need less of?
- What one thing can the company do to be more successful next year?
- What have we struggled with in the past that we want to finally beat this year?
Once you’re clear on a word, then you’ll want to frame a narrative around it.
The word doesn’t have to be fancy. It could be something as simple as sales. Let’s say your revenues have been flat or not growing as much as you would like. Setting “sales” or “revenue” or “add more revenue” as watchwords puts all departments on the same page: this is what matters this year. When, for example, operations is reminded that “sales” is the watchword for the year, it can not only think about ways to cut costs to make those sales stand out more, but also look for tools and aids to help the sales team do better.
As we noted already, a watchword doesn’t mean anything without a plan and KPIs. Let’s stick with our example of “sales.” Let’s say that you want to grow revenues 7%. You’ll need to look at your existing lines of revenue first in order to make up that number. Add on any new lines of revenue you hope to introduce.
You can then create a plan to reach those KPIs as a finish line.
Setting an annual goal and setting a plan to reach it is nothing new for most business owners. But sometimes the way a goal is achieved is by psychological markers here or there that help nudge someone forward, particularly when they are feeling weak or demoralized.
The same is true of a business. Every fiscal year is a long slog for business owners and their team members. By having a watchword to guide the year, at least one particular focus will stay in front of everyone for the year, giving it that extra psychological boost, and helping coordinate team efforts around a single idea.
If your watchword for the year is “systematize” or “prep for sale” we’ve got you covered! Give us a call.