As we approach the end of the year, many financial institutions are wrapping up their plans and getting ready for the next phase – execution. This is where the real work begins. You’ve spent the better part of 2015 preparing for this next chapter. It’s time to put the pieces in place so those plans become actions when the calendar flips to 2016.

Hopefully, your financial institution won’t fall into the trap that so many other organizations do. They breathe a sigh of relief that planning is over for a while. They tuck all of their papers and reports back into their respective folders, and they forget about most of what was discussed until it’s time to start planning for the next year.

Here are two ways to help you remember to keep strategic plan in focus:

1) Make goal review part of every monthly board meeting. The first thing your board members should see in their board books/packets, even before the meeting agenda, is a list of 2016 goals with a status update for each one. Board members must stay in the know.

2) Hold quarterly planning meetings. Even if your executive team has to meet via teleconference, put dates on your calendar now. Your leaders should spend a few hours at the start of each quarter discussing what did and did not work during the previous quarter and what adjustments you will make moving forward. Brainstorm solutions for getting back on track.

On a different note, remember how important milestones are to your members and why your financial institution should not ignore them. Milestones relate to customer and member loyalty, which will increase when you acknowledge a birthday or other special occasion. You also will find creative and affordable tips for helping them celebrate their special occasions.