Q1 Planning Checklist for a Successful 2022

Follow these 8 steps to establish strong strategies in Q1 and steer your business toward success.

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Business Continuity

Here's what you need to know about planning for Q1:

  • Evaluate what worked and didn’t work in the previous 12 months
  • Be sure to align with future goals for the rest of the year
  • Try a new way of achieving your business goals
  • Remember your company's mission, vision, and values

If the whirlwind that was the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 is finally just letting you catch your breath (we’re looking at you, Omicron), you’re probably realizing that you’re behind on a few things.

If one of those things is planning for Q1, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Even though Q1 is underway, it’s never too late to get a plan in action to keep the rest of the quarter on track.

As Inc. explains, planning for Q1 is all about evaluating “what worked and didn’t work in the previous 12 months” in order to improve the year ahead. Let’s dig into how to create strong strategies this first quarter of 2022.

Build in flexibility

If the last 2 years have taught us anything, it’s the value of flexibility in an ever-changing world. As Omicron has most recently highlighted, you never know what’s coming down the pipeline — so the more flexibility your business can have, the better.

The thing about flexibility is that it can come in a variety of forms. Flexibility can mean options to work from home or flexible hours to accommodate the demands and responsibilities people have outside of work, like childcare. It can also mean the option to select and use the benefits most useful to each employee. Someone might really enjoy a subsidized gym membership while another might rather use that money for daycare or a cell phone bill.

The more flexible your company is, the better it can bend (rather than break) when the winds of change get to gale-force levels.

Consider how Q1’s plan will ladder up to Q2’s plan (and the rest of the year)

A successful Q1 checklist will be the starting point for the rest of the year — a runway for Q2 to launch from.

When planning for Q1, remember that no quarter stands alone. It can be tempting to focus your Q1 plan just on what needs to happen in the beginning of the year or what didn’t get accomplished last year.

But a successful Q1 checklist will be the starting point for the rest of the year — a runway for Q2 to launch from. Be sure to align with future goals for the rest of the year as you structure your plans for Q1.

Always focus on hiring and promoting the right people

There are some things that you have to always focus on, no matter the time of the year. One of those things is hiring and promoting the right people. Even if you’re not in the middle of a hiring push, it’s never a bad time to make sure that your hiring and promotion processes are aligned with your goals for Q1 and beyond. Having good people in the right places always helps, while the opposite can cause major damage that even the best Q1 plan can’t overcome.

Make space for data

One of the many reasons that People Operations is beginning to replace HR in modern workplaces is its reliance on data. POPS relies on surveys and other tools to get the data they need to make nimble and informed decisions rather than simply relying on old processes because they’ve worked in the past.

It can be tough to make the switch to a data-based approach, but the thing about data is that numbers never lie. When you’re armed with data, it can be easier to get clarity around the decisions you need to make.

Address the places where you fell short last year

Because the end of the year is a great time to review the previous year, what did and didn’t work last year is likely fresh on your mind. Don’t just ignore the places where your team or the company fell short. Instead, analyze them and think about ways you can avoid making the same mistakes in 2022. That could be as simple as making more achievable goals or as complex as redesigning your strategy for achieving them.

Try new goal-setting methods

No business evolves without trying something new.

Speaking of strategies, the new year that Q1 represents is a great time to try something new. Whether that’s trying the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) model, introducing a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis, or something else entirely, maybe a new way of achieving your business goals is what you need. Plus, no business evolves without trying something new.

Consider adopting a cascading goals framework, which involves establishing company-centered objectives from the executive suite and having them descend to other levels in your organization. This can help ensure teams, managers, and employees have goals that align with the company. Q1 can also be a great time to shift from traditional performance management to performance alignment — which helps ensure that your employees are working in conjunction with organizational goals.

Build on the successes of 2021

Planning for Q1 isn’t just about focusing on what didn’t work in 2021. It’s also about building on what did work in 2021. Even though it was a year that was more challenging that most of us expected, there were certainly silver linings to be found. Even if those successes are lessons about what to do or how to adapt when things don’t work out, be sure to carry those gems of knowledge into this year.

Stay aligned with your company’s mission, vision, and values

The last thing to keep in mind when you’re planning for Q1 is to remember the larger goals of your company — its mission, vision, and values. Done right, these elements steer a business toward its definition of success, so alignment with them is essential. Plus, considering the number of people who want mission-driven work, one way to keep employees engaged in their work is to continually ensure that it is mission-aligned.

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