We are close to the end of a calendar quarter – how has your team performed? With one quarter to go in the calendar year, are you on track with your budgeted revenue? Finishing strong sets you up for the next period of performance. More cash on hand means more fuel for growth. If you want to boost your results for the next quarter, consider instituting the 13-week race.

The context

Of course you need to start with a bigger picture, like your revenue goal for the year. What percent of your overall total do you expect to achieve in the upcoming 13 weeks? Are you making up for lost time earlier in the year? Are you expecting to capitalize on bursts of seasonal activity?

The type of revenue might also be important. Year round you might be working toward higher gross margins, but is there something specific right now that will make a difference on your year-end results?

Breaking it down

For some brain types, and in some busy work settings, even 13 weeks seems like a long time. Daily crises can pull focus away from the bigger goal. So take that quarterly number and set a weekly target. Go daily if you have to.

Engaging team participation

If you have been operating under the assumption that your plan should be super secret stuff known only to your senior leaders, think again. Who do you think is going to help you achieve it? Talk about it with your team. Tell them why it’s important. Tell them again. And again. You should feel like you’re repeating yourself, but that’s OK. It will take 5-6 repetitions for the info to reliably sink in.

Make it visual. Post a graph on the wall so everyone can see the team’s progress. You wouldn’t get excited about the baseball game if they didn’t keep score, and same goes for your team at work. Pictures communicate more effectively than numbers, so arrange your data in a chart. For example, if your “must do” number is 500 units per day, make that level a line across your chart. Then mark where the actual performance is each day relative to the 500 level. If your aggregate number is most important, fill a bucket with ping-pong balls as you accumulate wins, or draw levels on a thermometer – stretch your creative muscles.

If you really want to go big, develop a theme. Heck, dress in costumes and do a skit at an all-hands meeting! Decorate your workplace along the theme lines. And remember to celebrate success – cheer for the big win at the end, but also the milestone victories along the way.

Remember the story about the two stone cutters? One saw his job simply as cutting stone, but the other saw himself contributing to the building of a cathedral. The second stone cutter found a sense of purpose in the big picture that sustained him. These 13-week races help your team members rise above the mindset of the first stone cutter “I’m just a _______ doing ______” and into the mindset of cathedral builders. You can help them become fully committed partners in your company’s success.