Reflect on the Past Year to Create a Stronger New Year

With the end of the year approaching, it's an ideal time to review last year's accomplishments and to plan for the next. It's a chance to celebrate achievements and to reinforce the behavior that made them possible. It's also an opportunity to evaluate the year's mistakes so that they can be avoided in the future.

In addition to developing high-level business goals for the new year, assess the company's mission and culture. Share lessons learned and targeted improvements in company-wide events, staff meetings and one-on-ones. Consistent communication will help employees understand your expectations and build a more cohesive team.

Review Last Year and Envision the Next

First, meet with team leaders to review accomplishments and challenges, understand how employees feel about the company and assess the "state of the culture." As you "deconstruct" the year's activities, reflect on whether you're rewarding the right individual and collective conduct. Which behaviors proved successful during the previous year and which will best support the goals for the coming year? Determine whether your mission statement needs to be dusted off and updated to reflect what you learned during the past year.

Once your team leaders have converged on a list of accomplishments, top contributors and traits they want to cultivate, schedule a "town meeting," to include all employees. During this fourth quarter, "all hands" event, emphasize how the organization's culture is intended to create an environment that's compatible with the company's mission and conducive to achieving its business objectives. Recap last year's performance, then present goals for the upcoming year:

  • Review the company's financial achievements and client objectives from last year. Discuss high-level goals for the next year.
  • How did individual teams perform against their goals?
  • If formal goals were not set for the last year, convey the importance of establishing them for the upcoming one.

These topics will encourage conversation and lay the groundwork for the upcoming year.

Celebrate the Previous Year's Successes

Remember that it's important to praise top performers in public -- and in private.  In one-on-ones, managers need to emphasize and reinforce the individual strengths and conduct that led to success. Consider recognizing outstanding contributions with awards that employees will value, which will remind them of their accomplishments and build camaraderie.

Be creative and select items that reflect your company's culture. One of our clients presented jackets embroidered with the company logo to their high-achieving teams. Another planned a company outing during which top performers received trophies and an gift card. Still another gave iPads engraved with the company name in recognition of their outstanding work.

Set the stage for success in the coming year. Remember, your mission and new year's business goals should be aligned and clearly defined. Let employees know what's expected of them and reinforce that message throughout the next 12 months. Planning today will fuel greater accomplishments in the new year.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

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