Have you gotten your team off on the right foot in the new year? Have you taken the proper measures to organize and motivate your team? A constant challenge for business owners is making sure that your team is organized, motivated, and ready to take on the challenges that you put on their plate.
In this column, I’d like to share the best practices that I’ve developed to get your team on the right page for the new year. The end of the year can be a rewarding period of time for your team as they get vacation time to spend with their friends and family, but it can be tough to get them back into the swing of things to get the year off to a great start.
If you don’t take the time to re-motivate and set the direction for your team in the new year, you may suffer the consequences of disorganization, low motivation, and a feeling of not understanding where the company is going. Don’t let that happen.
Step 1: Create a 1 Year Vision for the Company
As the leader of the company, it is your job at the end of each year to create a new vision for the next year of the company. How will the company grow? What new projects will you and your team be focused on? What financial goals do you want to achieve by the end of the year? What reality do you want to achieve at this time next year?
These questions are not easy to answer, but it must be thought about so that you can properly motivate and rally your team. From my experience, it is best to break your 1 year vision down into two core aspects.
Aspect #1: A Theme for the Year
Create a theme that you will continue to iterate throughout the entire year that will push you and your team towards the 1 year vision that you’ve created. With FreeeUp this year, we have created a mantra to “be everywhere.” We want the FreeeUp name and brand to be everywhere by the end of 2016. We should be reaching clients that never knew about us before this year. We should be getting featured in leading publications around the country by the end of the year. We should be featured on leading entrepreneurial, small business, and eCommerce podcasts by the end of the year. If we can achieve all of these things, we will effectively “be everywhere.”
It’s been a great goal to communicate to the team because they understand what we are trying to create. We want to build an amazing company that not only serves to a specific niche that we’ve started with, but we want all players within online business to know who we are and see us as an option for hiring online. That is a lofty goal, but one that a team can get behind. People like to be pushed to believe in goals that they wouldn’t think to create themselves.
Aspect #2: The Road Map
The second aspect is a well-laid out road map of the 1 year vision. It’s difficult for everyone to understand what you are envisioning if you just start talking about 1 year out from now. Not everyone’s mind works in the same visionary way as you so it’s best to break it down.
Create a road map. Break it into the 4 quarters of the year. Show where you want the company to be by the end of the 4th quarter and then work your way backwards outlining key milestones that you will have to reach as a company. This makes it much easier for the team to grasp what you are trying to achieve.
For FreeeUp, we want to reach 10,000 hours billed per week by the end of this year. Starting the year at 4,000 can make that 10,000 hours number seem quite far away. But when you break it down into the 4 quarters showing the growth that we have to achieve and the number of clients that we have to add, the numbers become much more realistic and the team can see how what they are doing can contribute to those numbers.
Step 2: Hold a Team Meeting to Discuss the Next Year
Communication is one of the biggest factors in properly leading and motivating your team at the beginning of the new year. If you were able to effectively complete step 1, now you are ready to share it with your team and get them geared up to take on the new challenge.
On the day of the meeting, I recommend providing your team with a 2-3 page brief of what will be discussed so that they have time to process the new information, gather thoughts, and come with ideas and feedback. One of the most difficult aspects of meetings is getting real feedback from your team. It’s even more difficult in a visionary meeting when they are presented with everything on the spot.
As you work your way through the meeting, be sure to take pauses to hear out your team. Ask them about the quarterly goals. Find out where they are unsure. Clarify goals if they are not clear enough. And really listen. At the beginning of the year, teams are looking for something new and they want their voice to be heard. As the leader, you want that as well so that they can take ownership in what you are trying to build together.
Step 3: Hold 1 on 1 Meetings to Discuss Roles and Growth Opportunities
Okay, now you have your team on the same page in terms of what you are trying to achieve this year and the steps that you’ll need to achieve in order to reach that final reality. That’s an amazing start, but it’s also extremely important to make sure that your team members feel confident in their role and how they can grow over the next year. Everyone has an innate sense to want to learn and grow. Make sure that you have them in a position where they see that happening over the next 12 months.
Hold 1 on 1 meetings to get the year off on the right step with each team member. Come to the meeting with a clear direction for each person on how they can grow and contribute to the overall vision for the company. Provide them with time to give feedback and express ideas that they want to tackle as well.
At the end of the day, you will need to be the leader of the company and make the best decision of where each person’s time is dedicated. However, hearing your team members out can help to further build your relationship with them and make them motivated to push forward.
Step 4: Lead by Example
With the team now on track and motivated to tackle the year, you need to be the leader that they are looking for. You can’t simply preach all of the lofty goals that you have for the company and then not live up to that standard. As the leader of the company, it is your job to lead by example and be the day to day motivator that everyone needs to keep pushing forward. You’re bound to hit hard patches and that is where your leadership will shine.
If you are excited, early into the office, and ripping through new projects, they are going to be motivated to do the same. If you are complaining about the difficulty of getting the new year started, they are going to mimic you as well. Be the leader that your team needs and motivate them through your own actions.
Get To Work
You can achieve all of this in 1 weeks time and it’s never too late. If you haven’t already addressed these four steps to start the new year on the right page with your team, now is the time to get started.