How to get off to the best possible start!

On New years Eve we have all found ourselves setting ambitious resolutions, “This is the year I am going to get into shape and get my life on track”, “This year I will be more productive and stop wasting time”. The 1st of July is the corporate world's version of a New Year, people get new budgets, new targets and new direction.

A transition into a new financial year is an amazing opportunity to get our teams engaged and excited around the year ahead. Unfortunately most companies, like people, rarely manage to keep the momentum going past the first few weeks. Haven't we all been to a planning meeting and secretly thought "This is great now, but in a month things will go back to how they were!"

Here are a few things that many companies and teams do badly when transitioning from one year to the goals and expectations of the next:

  • Trying to change too much too soon.
  • Carrying the baggage from the previous year into the next.
  • Not being clear about the new vision.
  • Not articulating clear behaviours that will make the change possible.
  • Failing to provide a process where others can emotionally engage in the change.

Due to these mistakes, most businesses and teams miss out on making the most of a golden opportunity to re-engage and renew. As you move into the new financial year here are some simple steps to effectively manage the transition.

Step 1 Reflect:

 

If we have had losses and setbacks in the previous financial year, we often carry the emotional baggage with us into the new financial year. This baggage reduces our performance and ability to think creatively.

When we reflect on the previous financial year we tend to focus on what went wrong, what targets were missed and what didn’t get done. However this leaves us feeling heavy and burdened. While it is important to explore what got missed, just as much attention needs to go into analysing the positive. Ask yourself how did you grow and what did you do well last year?

The key step here is asking ‘why’ did you achieve these things. This is crucial as it gets you focused on success and most importantly understanding why you were successful. With this focus you have a greater chance of repeating it.

Human beings interpret the world by telling ourselves stories. For instance, the way we relate to people is through story. “Jane, she is always there for me and someone I can rely on”, “Peter can’t be trusted he is only concerned with furthering his career”. We do the same thing when we reflect on the year. “Last year was a disaster, it was just so hard and we didn’t get any traction.” These statements obviously don't set us up for a productive new start.

When you analyse the previous year, ensure that the story you tell yourself is Accurate, Realistic and Optimistic. This is crucial when it comes to leaving the past where it belongs, and only carrying the lessons forward into the next years opportunities and challenges.

Step 2 - Rest

 

Companies make the mistake of blurring from one financial year to the next, without a pause. Take the time to make a clear distinction with your team so that they feel that they are moving into something new. This can be done in many ways depending on your culture and budget. You could hold a team building afternoon, get a speaker in to address a relevant issue and here is where you map out the vision for the next financial year. If you wanted to keep it low key, simply mark the occasion by giving people an afternoon off, telling them that they have worked their butts off over the last year and they deserve it. Before you freak out, you know that what you pick up in cultural impact will greatly outweigh the small loss in productivity. What ever you do ensure that there is a distinct pause between the financial years.

Step 3 - Reset

 

This is where you map out the vision for the next year. Various research studies show that for people to feel engaged at work they need to know where the company is going and what is it trying to achieve. This 1st of July is your perfect opportunity to clearly articulate this a new horizon. However, one trap that organisations often fall into is attempting to overachieve by declaring too many goals and initiatives. All this does is dilute the message and detach people from the outcome. Make sure the message is clear enough that they can hold it front of mind and refer to it constantly throughout the year, much like navigating by an actual horizon!

In their World of Work survey, Randstad asked employees across the globe for the number one thing their employer could do to retain them. The most common response was “Show me how my actions contribute to something that is bigger than me”. People are crying out to contribute and have a sense of meaning. Use this new financial year to show your team exactly how what they do is meaningful.

The final thing is to clearly articulate the behaviours we need to exhibit in the new year. The most common reason that people fail in their resolutions is not articulating the new behaviours they need to do for the new vision to be a reality. Take the number one new years resolution of ‘losing weight’. The most successful people at weight loss are those that articulate the exact behaviours they are going to exhibit, “exercise 4 times per week, cut out desert and no alcohol during the week.”

Business falls into the same trap, for change to occur we need to articulate the exact behaviours that need to happen. “We get back to clients within 90 minutes, we solve people’s problems on the spot, each manager has a face to face with each team member every 2 weeks” etc. these are all clear behaviours that can be measured and followed.

Now that you have the tools go forth and transition into the new year with a clear vision and free from the baggage of the previous year.

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