The end of the year is reserved for reflecting on the past 365 days and setting goals for the year ahead. As we near the end of 2020, the tradition of setting resolutions can feel a bit overwhelming --especially considering that this past year threw us all a curveball. (Well, if I’m being honest, it wasn’t so much a curveball as it was gasoline thrown onto a dumpster fire.)
Going into the new year, it is important to reflect on what you have learned over the past year, what changes you want to make for your team and devise a plan that you can stick with and tweak when needed. Adversity precipitates change, and 2020 showed us all that change is needed.
The pandemic forced business leaders to change their business operations with absolutely no time to properly plan; transitioning teams to work remotely was necessary to protect our employees. We all had to learn to navigate that new norm while still trying to remain focused on our businesses.
As leaders, we are responsible for developing and managing talent within our organization; it is important to take the lessons learned throughout the year and use them to create meaningful resolutions for 2021:
What I've Learned
Fostering a great company culture takes time and effort by everyone, but even more effort (and intent) is needed when your team is working from home. Lack of solid communication, both internally and externally, leads to confusion and frustration. Conversations become deliberate when we are not working near one another. The lack of informal, lighter office banter we once experienced can often leave your employees feeling like a number instead of a valued team member.
Team burnout and frustration is real. According to a LinkedIn poll, employee burnout has risen 33% in 2020. It’s important to understand that although we are all in this together, the pandemic affected all of us differently. We have been forced to convert our bedrooms and kitchens into workstations, become unorthodox teachers to our children, and turn into daycare and/or healthcare providers at the drop of a hat; all this while juggling our full-time jobs.
Employee “temperature checks” are about more than screening for COVID-19. Regular check-ins with your team are important on a professional and personal level. The feelings of isolation brought on by social distancing have pushed many of us to psychological and emotional breaking points. How you handle yourself and treat others personally says a lot about who you (and your company) are. How you treat your team when your business is experiencing stress can have a lasting effect on the future relationship your business shares with its employees–for better or for worse.
Those without innovative technology will be left behind. New technology trends have been on the rise for years, and that technology train is not slowing down anytime soon. In 2020, finding new ways to enhance your business operations with the use of technology was paramount to keeping your teams running efficiently and keeping employee frustration to a minimum.
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My Resolutions for 2021
Make your employees feel special
Not because you must, but because THEY ARE. Kind, supporting words go a long way in making a positive impact in other’s lives.
Embrace the Technology Train
While remote work operations may have felt forced upon us, we learned that it was possible to sustain our business if we adapted quickly. Rather than rely on what worked for us in the past, in 2021, we must review and adjust business processes to find efficiencies, using technology as the driving force.
Be transparent and engage your team
There is no doubt that two brains are better than one. People want to feel like an integral part of their organization and its future – collaborate with your team on projects, and the future direction of the department. Ask your team for feedback and apply it.
Find new creative ways to motivate and incentivize teams
Between shifting work formats and high rates of employee burnout, the “old" methods of motivating and incentivizing employees can start to feel a little stale. Changing up the ways you reward a job well done can help jump-start declining employee productivity and morale.
We are all Humans
2020 took some of the professional sheen off the business world. Now, other household members are sharing our new office spaces, pets are making their presences known (sometimes at the most inopportune times), and we have redefined what business casual looks like (let’s not forget the months we all went without haircuts). That is our new normal. As leaders, we must continue to be flexible, lead with empathy, and trust our teams can be productive –even in nontraditional work formats.
Find something positive and fun every day
Having an optimistic and positive outlook is contagious. Finding small victories throughout your day can have a large impact on how you view the world and how you approach adversity.
Investing in Your Employees
While 2020 has certainly thrown a gamut of curveballs at us, it’s important we learn from our experiences, adapt professionally to changes, and develop a new plan of action that will enhance our businesses for the new year. While every business is different, I think we can all agree that employees are the most important aspect of our businesses. Resolving to invest in your team from a cultural and leadership perspective will ripple out to other areas of your business and provide a positive return on investment for years to come.