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I’m hearing the B word a lot these days: BUDGET. In my coaching I find that this is the time when all my clients are focusing on goals and objectives for the coming year. The thing is that they are focusing on it only because they have to, not because they want to: It’s time to get those forecasts and pro-formas in!
While goal-setting with that financial catalyst is better than nothing, and it can be a good thing in terms of better realism with dated business models, the wiser, forward-thinking companies are those who use this time for financial goals connected to career development, service enhancements, and the customer-responsiveness of product. They connect those financial objectives—which will never go away, nor should they—with people objectives.
What does this have to do with my learning theme this month? Plenty. This is just a short list for starters:
- Learn to use a better budget-writing process, where you look forward and not backwards. If your only research is the pattern of your past history + a new quota, no surprise that come year’s end you’ll only get what you’ve always got before.
- Learn to involve the rest of your staff. In my experience, the more the merrier when it comes to the budget process. A goal for all managers should be banishing any entitlement mentality in staff and replacing it with business partner collaboration. Budget time is a great time to start: If they affect the budget, they should influence it and own it.
- Learn some new measurements. I’m guessing that ROI has always been in your budget; now how about ROR (Return on Relationships) and ROA (Return on Attention)?
- Learn that investment is a better word than cost. Asking yourself, What better investments can I make next year? is far better framing for your own thinking than Where can I cut costs? yet you answer the same question in terms of money and time, and cut out those un-worthy expenditures that won’t hurt anyway.
- Learn to look outside versus inside. Lucky for me, fresh out of college, the first company I worked for never started the budget process until the coming year’s marketing plan was written, and an internal company campaign had been started to inspire us. Then the particulars of the marketing plan was presented in dialogue format to all the managers who’d then write the budget. Customer focus, company focus, then budget planning.
- Learn to love numbers. Really. Fact of life: work success—not just business success—revolves around them, and once you set a new goal of improved financial literacy for yourself your outlook changes. Befriend someone who works in corporate finance, investment banking, or money management today, and get a window seat into their world: There’s a lot of passion to be felt there, a lot of smarts to get infected with.
Finally, Learn to Learn. I urge all of you now in budget-crunching land: Get that line item in your budget for “Staff Training and Education” and make the numbers work for it to happen. Then, set your own goals in learning and personal growth using that cash: Connect all the dots.
There’s just one Thursday left for our September Learning here on Lifehack.org this month: Comment here or email me if there’s a learning topic you’re interested in for next week. On every other day, you can visit me on www.ManagingWithAloha.com. Aloha! Rosa Say
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