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4 Tips for Q4 Planning with Remote Teams

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Q4 Planning
Q4 Planning

It's the time of year that can sneak up on you fast. Summer ends, school starts, the leaves and weather start to change and suddenly you are staring down the end of the year. It can be easy to justify skipping any Q4 planning with all that’s going on and year-end right around the corner, but here’s why I find Q4 planning important particularly for remote teams. 1. Why Q4 Planning Matters for Remote Teams 2. Effective Strategies for Q4 Planning 3. Conclusion

Why Q4 Planning Matters for Remote Teams

  • Finish strong and focused - you still have goals for this year so it’s important to elevate the urgency for the final push. There are plenty of distractions to come with the holidays so it's best to get ahead of that with some planning

  • Final adjustments - you’ve likely learned something this year and this gives you an opportunity to make some final adjustments to improve and test that you can build on going into next year

Planning for 2024
Planning for 2024

  • Build Momentum - Q4 sets the table for the following year for many obvious reasons. A strong finish gives you a nice running start into the near year instead of waiting to reset

So, what should you cover during your Q4 planning? Every company runs differently, especially if you are remote or hybrid, but I’ve found over the years that a slightly different approach to Q4 can be helpful.

Effective Strategies for Q4 Planning

Here are 4 tips to help with your Q4 planning that I’ve developed over the years for my remote teams:

  1. Keep it Simple: the easiest trap to fall into is trying to do it all in the final quarter. It can be tempting to try and “swing for the fences” and catch up on everything you set out to do at the beginning of the year - projects, goals, hiring, improvements, etc. That often results in less focus and more stress than is necessary. I’ve found that Q4 is the time to reset and simplify. Eliminate distractions and get ultra-focused on what matters. It’s not the time to try a bunch of new stuff in hopes of a miracle finish. Figure out your strengths, lean into what’s working, and/or get ultra-focused on what’s not working. Less is more this time of year.

  2. Be Realistic: This is not about lowering expectations, but rather being realistic about what you can accomplish over the next 3 months. There’s nothing more deflating for a team that has a great finish to the year only to feel like they’ve failed. I’m not suggesting you should lower targets or sandbags to make people feel better. What I am suggesting, however, is assessing where you stand and getting really clear on what winning looks like for the quarter ahead. Perhaps it’s the same goal you laid out in your annual plan. Perhaps higher or maybe lower. It doesn't matter but it’s not the catch-all for the entire year. In most cases that’s simply not realistic and can actually hurt your results once your teams realize they cannot make it - they will shut it down in anticipation of a fresh start in January.

  3. Be Proactive: This is something I see missed all the time as most companies use Q4 as a chance to sweep stuff under the rug until “next year”. While I suggested that simplicity and focus are key, that doesn’t mean you should shy away from taking on tough decisions. For example, if you implemented a new strategy for the first few quarters that isn’t working - don’t be afraid to just shut it down. Have a tough personnel, process, or product decision to make? Make it now. The sooner you proactively address issues and opportunities in Q4, the sooner you can have the right team, strategy, and processes in place for the next year. My goal is always to walk into year-end planning with the team and core strategy already in motion vs. figuring out what happened and starting fresh in Q1.

  4. Plan for PTO: You didn’t think I’d let this slide did you? I see one of two things happen when it comes to time off in Q4. Either too many people take it at the same time which virtually shuts down the business or nobody takes time off and burnout builds quickly.

Plan for PTO
Plan for PTO

It’s best to get ahead of this and plan for it. Clearly communicate your strategy for operations and time off to your team and customers well ahead of time. You might very well be able to shut things down for a week if you plan for it! Or if you are a 24/7 operation, then you can help your teams properly plan to ensure the coverage needed while also ensuring everyone gets time off with their family and friends.

Whatever your plan, figuring it out ahead of time will reduce stress, and improve motivation and appreciation.

This is a busy time of year, but with some simple adjustments, you can put yourself and your team in a position to do their best work and set you up for a great year to come.

If you haven’t already, put time on the calendar to outline your Q4 strategy with your team. Ask them what they think, what they need, and how you can help them finish strong. They will appreciate it and you will appreciate the results.

Here’s to a great Q4 for you!


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