For many organisations the beginning of a new year is the start of a new phase in their development, most will have set out targets and aims for the coming 12 months (or possibly even longer). January is the ideal time to kick start this advancement as everyone returns to their role, hopefully rested and refreshed. However, getting the new year off to a great start can be a little tricky; it may take a while for people to escape the ‘holiday mode’, they may be unclear of what’s ahead and they will likely have tasks from the preceding year that they have to finish before moving onto the new set of priorities – all of this can lead to delays in launching your new strategy if not accounted for and managed properly. Therefore, having a concrete approach to help your team get back on track and in alignment with your latest priorities is essential, and luckily, it’s relatively simple to implement.
Setting an Example
The first challenge will be supporting your staff back into work. This transition can be a struggle for many people, and there is likely to be a period of readjustment which may impact productivity in the first few days. This is almost inevitable in most cases, and while staff shouldn’t be encouraged to do nothing, it’s probably a good idea not to bombard them in the first few days as they try and get back on top of things. Trying to limit stress for your staff as they settle back in will be highly appreciated by them and will pay dividends when they achieve their prior level of productivity much more quickly.
This also includes setting an example by not rushing headlong into work yourself. You need to ease yourself back into work, take time to set priorities and divvy up your time accordingly, as well as supporting your staff to do the same, and they will find it easier to do if they have you leading the way.
If you manage to achieve the above then often your staff will settle back into their working life as if they’d never been away, and this could actually be your second challenge. In most cases they will simply pick up where they left off and carry on as normal. While this is highly commendable, if you’ve got upcoming changes on the horizon it might not be the most effective use of their energy as you’ll want them to be focused on the changes ahead, not bogged down with the issues of the past. The solution to this challenge is to interject early and make the upcoming priorities for the business, and everyone within it, clear. For many this would have been done prior to the holiday break, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be reiterated when people return. Not only is there a high chance that not all the information was assimilated before the holiday thanks to stress, high workloads and gradual wind down, but to many people the aims of ‘next year’ may have seemed far away at the time and perhaps weren’t fully internalised.
Set the vision
One of the most important things you can do to galvanise your staff and help them to re-prioritise in alignment with your current strategy, is to set out clearly what the upcoming vision and goals are for the company and also help your staff understand and visualise how they can contribute to this. Outlining the bigger picture will ensure that as you begin the year, everyone is starting out on the same page and are heading in the same direction. This message obviously needs to be repeated throughout the year, but by making it clear at the start, you help ensure your staff are on the right track, making it much easier to keep it that way going forward.
For many people and organisations a new year signals a time for change and progression; to set challenges and to see how much further we can push ourselves, and what more we can achieve. It’s a time to look back and reflect on the achievements and challenges of the past and identify ways to improve in the future, and finding ways to harness that conviction within your workforce is the true key to making it your best year yet.