As the year comes to an end, we find that most business owners naturally take time to reflect on how the year has progressed. Having worked with a few educational institutions, however, I find that school managers sometimes overlook the importance of such an activity. And many do it incorrectly.
You should not do a year-end review just for the sake of it.
Some schools do the exercise just because it is mandated. They end up treating a year-end review like a New Year’s Resolution, and never follow through in the following year.
However, if you follow these 6 steps (which we explain and help actually do at the Strategic Planning Day), you are more likely to conduct a practical and useful review, which is more likely to stick and help further your school’s ultimate goals.
Understand How Your Year Went
The first thing you should do at the end of every year is take a step back and ask yourself how you did in the past 12 months in comparison to your goals in January. In order to do so, there are a number of questions you need to ask yourself:
- What were your broad organisational goals for your school at the beginning of the year? Were you able to achieve them?
- Out of the goals you did not achieve, what were the reasons behind their shortcomings?
- Have your teachers and support staff worked efficiently together over the course of the past 12 months? If there were any hiccups, what were they and where did they emanate from? To address such hiccups, you should consider implementing team management strategies which could help organise them into a cohesive team.
- How has your educational institution changed as compared to the previous year? What impact has this had on you and the school?
Review Your Current Situation
Once the annual review has been completed, narrow your focus to the present. Look at the last 2 months and conduct an objective review of your achievements and shortfalls. The latter is the most important part of this review – what have you not yet achieved and what is missing in your organisation?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Have you been able to balance your cash flow?
- What goals did you have for the last quarter? Did you achieve them?
- Why were you unable to meet some of your goals?
- What have you learned from this quarter that you can carry over to the next?
Set Your Organisational Goals
As the manager of your educational institution, it is your role to set strategies for your schools for the next few years. Educational coaches and business coaches in London would largely agree that the best way to achieve your goals is by first defining your long-term plans, which could be for the next 10 years. You can then break them down into 3-year goals and then work out what are the goals you need to achieve in the next year to achieve that.
In business coaching, we often tell our clients that they need to convey their vision to their employees with confidence. Showing short and long-term goals that are promising and achievable creates motivation within teams. This is especially true for teachers, who often wish to be dedicated to their work, but feel like the admin tasks are weighing them down. Showing them how the various administrative work they need to do will achieve goals that will ultimately benefit them and their students is critical to keeping them from feeling jaded about their work.
Remember, although you are running an organisation, you are also managing people who are educating others – the atmosphere and sentiment is one of the most critical aspects in keeping a school thriving.
Develop Your Action Plan
There 4 stages to developing an effective and actionable plan:
In the last step, you defined the goals you want to achieve in the next year, and now it is time to categorise them. These categories usually emerge naturally, and could include areas such as finance, teacher relations, legal, support services, marketing/prospecting etc.
Now that you have categorised your goals, it is time to prioritise them. Choose just one goal from each of the categories that is the most important within that bucket. Those goals will now be the items that you must complete in the next year. Now you have a focus.
3. Define Actions
For each goal, write down a list of action points that needs to be done in order to achieve it. Be cautious about assigning too many tasks to a single staff member – multitasking can often be less productive.
Now that you have your goals and required actions, you will need to ensure that you do not bombard yourself or your teachers and staff with too much work all at once. To avoid this, spread your actions through the next four quarters so that it is broken down into manageable phases over the next 12 months.
If your goals are substantial enough, which they should be at this point for any ambitious educational institution, you will realise that you and the executive staff are unable to do this all on your own. Therefore, you need to ensure that you manage the actions by delegating effectively to various department heads as appropriate.
When you delegate tasks to individuals, ensure that you not only communicate the exact actions they need to do, but also the context behind them. As mentioned earlier, teachers especially need to understand the goals they are contributing to if they are to stay motivated.
In business, we create an accountability chart to officialise each individual’s role in the attainment of your goals. Many educational institutions have found this to be an excellent tool to ensure you keep track of who is responsible for what, and also to ensure no one staff member is overloaded.
Follow Up on Actions and Your Overall Plan
As a manager, you cannot simply delegate to others and leave it at that. Especially in an educational institution where teachers have many different duties, you must ensure that you maintain constant and consistent contact with them to ensure that they are on track to achieving their tasks.
At weekly meetings you should spend a small amount of time discussing the organisational goals. Each member of the meeting should be responsible for a particular goal and give a quick update on progress. This way the whole team is aware of how the entire institution is moving forwards.
If certain goals are lagging, ask yourself – are those goals still relevant and achievable? If so, then find out what is holding up progress – where is the bottleneck? If you are in constant review, you can catch lagging goals before the end of the year and get them on track again quickly.
Following these 6 steps is likely to produce the kind of review and plan that will send you into the next year armed and ready for serious efficiency. Remember that doing a full review of your business will take time and effort, so ensure you put aside a decent amount of time to it. It is time spent now to save so much time wasted later.