Turning the calendar to a new year often brings renewed focus, energy, and resolution. For individuals and businesses alike, January is a fresh start. It’s a time for realigning priorities, setting goals, and making plans to achieve success. This is a make-or-break time for leaders. How do you effectively strategize for the year ahead and empower your teams to achieve new heights? We’ve asked a few industry business leaders to share their advice.
Start on a High Note
What better way to kick off a new year than with a celebration of the previous year’s success? Review your results, acknowledge the hardworking contributors who made it possible, and commend your team on a job well done.
Whether you do formal surveys or 1:1 check-ins, get a pulse for employee sentiment and collect valuable feedback about the previous year.
Peter Martin, president of Pella Northland, finds survey feedback especially beneficial. “We survey our employees every year using the Gallup survey method,” he shares. “The results tell us if we’re improving or regressing in terms of culture and how our teams are feeling.”
Share Your Vision
Where is your business headed in the new year? That’s where the strategic plan comes in.
“The new year is an important time to articulate our strategic vision and foster excitement and curiosity for the year ahead,” shares James Vagle, CEO with Housing First Minnesota. Clarify the business’s top priorities and the long-term goals for each team.
Set Short-Term Goals
Seeing the big picture and not knowing where to start can be overwhelming. As a leader, your job is to identify the steps that need to happen to accomplish your vision. “Big goals are often missed because the work toward them never gets started,” states Jerry Olson, a business advisor with the Resultants. “The key to overcoming this is to break the work down into bite-sized pieces.”
Amy Hendel, marketing director with Hendel Homes, swears by the 90-day method. “Think through the next 90 days for your team — what’s working well, what isn’t working well, what changes do you want to see, what goals can you measure?” She stresses the importance of setting clear direction and keeping your employees in the know.
Check In Regularly
There can be no progress without measurement and modification. “Have a robust model of weekly team meetings to track progress and adjust course,” Olson shares. When you utilize data to gauge the progress toward goals, you notice when things get off track and can address obstacles in real time.
Martin requests that his team leaders conduct formal quarterly check-ins with their teams. “In our one-on-one ‘mentor meetings,’ managers grade cultural fit and productivity, discuss what’s working and what’s not, and set a plan for the upcoming quarter.”
Know that your teams are looking to you for regular direction and realignment. “It’s so important to have consistency in goals, clear communications throughout the organization, and to celebrate successes and challenges overcome,” urges Vagle.
Positive reinforcement will foster engaged and well-performing teams throughout the entire year. “Leaders will be amazed at the engagement of individuals when they repeatedly clarify the vision,” Olson says.