Given this time of year is busy and stressful both in our careers and in our personal lives it seems impossible to even begin to think about next year when there is so much crammed into the end of this year. But it is really never too early to start thinking about the future.
As a leader it is your job to set the tone. When looking at your end of the year numbers, keep in mind that you’ll want to budget both time and resources to invest in the professional growth of your time. You’ll want the best quality training you can get. Whether it is keeping up with new technology, changes in regulations that affect your business, or changes to products, services and branding you’ll want your team up to date for the challenges ahead.
Pep talks, metaphoric speeches and rallying the troops is all well and good, but you’ll want real, concrete goals for the new year. Vague New Year’s resolutions like ‘getting the business into shape’ are useful and it is hard to make your team accountable for such vague goals. You want to set goals that are specific and achievable—if you set goals too high you are setting your team up for failure. You also want to set goals for which you can measure you and your team’s success. Also, give yourself and your team a time frame for achieving these goals.
At some level all successful businesses depend on quality data. Whether your team collects this data for the organization or you organization outsources their data acquisition make sure you are acquiring data that is not only accurate, but the data you actually need. Look back at your year and decide where you data was lacking.
Resolve to be the kind of leader we want to follow. Be consistent. We can tolerate even a poor leader if he isn’t channeling a different sort of poor leadership each day. Be real. Let us see how you as a leader effectively manage emotions and frustration at work. Show us what excites you about the challenges ahead.
Resolve to help us understand how we can develop. This helps us be better in many ways. It allows us to understand our future with the company; it gives us a way to structure our efforts to learn more about our jobs, our company, and our industry; and it shows that you have a personal interest, because you have made an effort to know our individual strengths and weaknesses.
Become a better listener. We have ideas. They won’t all be great ideas, but if you listen to us you can coach us to develop our ability to better vet and sharpen the next one.
Hold the micromanagement. Let’s talk trust. Nothing is more frustrating than to be prevented from just doing the job you hired me to do. We understand that it can be uncomfortable to delegate work. We understand that in many cases it is your reputation on the line when our team fails to produce something to our standard.
Hold poor performers accountable. If they can’t improve, pay the price necessary to cut them loose. What could be more damaging to the morale of the team than the struggle associated with carrying dead wood? We understand that you may not want to lose a position, that you may have some hope that you can magically restore someone’s motivation or suddenly implant some talent, or that politics may provide the poor performer with protection.