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4 tips on energizing your workforce post-holiday

Are you ready for the first week of January? For many businesses, the last two weeks of December are slow to say the least. With customers, vendors, and employees taking time off for the holidays, some companies shut down completely between Christmas and New Year’s, or operate on a skeleton crew. When people arrive back at work after the 1st, there’s usually a bit of a lull as people transition back to ‘work mode’. This can be a golden opportunity for you to set the stage for a productive and profitable New Year. Below are some tips for business owners to re-engage your workforce following the holidays to increase productivity, morale, and profitability.

  • Have an official Welcome Back ‘event’. I put event in quotes because I don’t mean a big expensive THING. It can be as simple as a morning meeting with doughnuts (or kale chips if you’d prefer) a bbq lunch, or something similar. The idea is a gesture from management to let employees know the holiday chapter has closed and the New Year chapter has begun. It goes a long way to tell employees you appreciate them and let them know some of the things you’re excited about for 2018. Because of the way our minds are wired, clear lines of transition like this help people get out of ‘holiday-mode’ and into productivity.

 

  • Share Vision – Many of the smaller businesses I work with don’t always have formal mission/vision/values built out, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a clear and compelling vision for your company. To reference Simon Sinek, your vision is your ‘Why’. It’s why you’re in business and ultimately how your business will change some small (or large) piece of the world by being there. Your vision is what will unite the different departments, get you through hard times, and help people ‘care’ about their jobs beyond their piece. It’s worth the time to think about this Why, and definitely to share it with your people, and get their input.

 

  • Goals – Every business has goals, whether they’re written out or not, but structured goal-setting is a powerful way of making sure you achieve those goals. If you haven’t got your goals spelled out yet, it’s probably unrealistic to try to have something done by the time work starts up on Tuesday, but that’s okay. Participative goal-setting with your managers can be very effective as well. Whether you announce it during your Welcome Back meeting, or some other time, make sure to let your teams know that they will be involved in setting the road map for the company over the following weeks. This is exciting, so make sure you communicate that!

 

  • Training – One of the nice things about January for many businesses is that everyone’s back at work but it’s not too busy yet. This can be an excellent opportunity to provide some training. Many of the businesses I work with see a need for their managers to brush up on skills like interviewing, dealing with performance problems, holding more effective meetings, or delegation. Having the time to pull everyone together for training is often a challenge for businesses, so it’s nice to take advantage of some downtime this time of year. An added bonus to company-provided training is that it shows employees that you value them enough to invest in them.

 

These are just a few ways you can rally the troops after a holiday slow down and prepare for a busy and exciting year ahead. I’d love to hear from you. What are some of the things you’ve done to set the stage for the New Year for your employees?

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm providing comprehensive organizational development solutions for companies who are growing and who truly value their people.  With certified Executive Coaches, Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) practitioners, SPHR-certified HR professionals, and Organizational Development Specialists, Carrie’s team brings a unique perspective and a cross-functional approach to providing workplace solutions that work.  Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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Do you have your Mountain yet?

If you’re a success in your business, whatever it is, you are no stranger to setting and achieving goals, sometimes seemingly impossible ones.  Almost every significant thing I have ever accomplished was done through methodical planning, setting of milestones, and slow, steady persistence. As much as I am an impatient, ‘get er done and done NOW’ type of person, this has not been the key to success as much as the often boring, far less glamorous trudging. If it weren’t for a combination of having a Mountain AND the markers I’d set along the way (i.e. mini-goals), I might have lost sight of the prize and wandered off into more exciting terrain (not that I haven’t done THAT a time or two either).

In my opinion, there needs to be two kinds of goals to really inspire, motivate, and achieve long-lasting improvement, and it starts with a Mountain. Notice I did not say Mountains, plural. Your Mountain is the overarching goal (the ‘why’ to borrow language from Simon Sinek) behind all your other endeavors. Your Mountain is your big dream, and, if you share it with your team the ‘bigger than yourself’ experience that draws people together to accomplish a mission that can feel life-changing. It is probably not going to be a revenue and profitability goal, although those are likely going to feed into the dream. Your Mountain is bigger than that.

My Mountain, for example, is to eventually start a foundation whose purpose is to seed and grow self-sustaining, entrepreneurial businesses to help people grow incomes outside of typical job structures. This grew slowly out of my firsthand realization of the limited career opportunities available to me after having children. I didn’t want to spend all day, every day, away from my children, nor did I want to completely take myself out of the workforce. This turned into a passion to help others in my position find fulfilling, lucrative, and most of all flexible opportunities – something that is just not available currently.

Of course, there are a lot of things that need to come into place before I can get anywhere near achieving this dream, not the least of which are proving out the model, generating capital, and building out a program that makes sense. Each of these is a daunting endeavor in and of itself. I can easily get bogged down in the day to day of the entrepreneurial life of marketing, networking, and of course actually performing the services my clients are paying me for, and start thinking that any of those ARE the Mountain.

Losing sight of the Mountain is what leads to stress, burnout, and taking on distractions that may seem enticing but don’t really lead anywhere. The Mountain is the gel that holds teams together and the thing that keeps you excited about slogging through. But the Mountain is not enough. Just like great leadership is ineffective if no one is managing the processes, a Mountain in and of itself is just a pretty view without a trail, a backpack, a map, and supplies. These are your goals.

My Mountain won’t be achieved in a year, but you can bet I have a solid 5-year plan that gets me closer and closer and none of that will happen if I don’t set and track the steps I need to take me there. The reason both together are so important is a funny little thing about goals and human nature. We always (without exception) tend to cease our effort when we hit a goal. It’s why so many of us fail to make long-term improvement. Don’t believe me? Look at the average person’s weight, bank account, and even career. Most people make progress towards a goal, hit the goal, and then stop effort until they congeal around a ‘set point’, determined by a belief about what’s possible.

Keeping a Mountain in mind is imperative to not only changing your belief, but in generating forward momentum PAST your goals – ‘Onward and Upward’ (to quote C.S. Lewis).

So before setting your resolutions and goals for 2017, take a moment to consider your Mountain. Dream big. Forget SMART for a moment and forget realistic too. Your Mountain should be bigger than you and require more than you know at the moment to attain it. And that’s where the fun really starts!

 

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm focused on helping organizations, leaders and job seekers to identify workplace solutions that work.  As a certified executive coach, organizational development expert and resume writer, Carrie consults with small to medium sized businesses on OD, human resources and recruiting solutions in addition to providing career coaching to managers and executives in transition. Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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Reso…What? Goal Setting Techniques for Personal and Professional Success

I’ve noticed a trend in the last few years of people not doing New Year’s Resolutions.  It’s like an anti-resolution backlash.  People are refusing to make resolutions because they never follow through.  It’s now the cool thing to not try something because you’re just going to fail anyway, the same way as it’s incredibly cool to not care overly much about anything.  Cynicism and bitterness are the new black (or grey, I can’t keep up).     There are other people who still do resolutions, but they are insistent on not calling them resolutions, because resolutions always fail.  So they call them ‘changes’ or ‘goals’ but phrased or planned out pretty identically to the ‘resolutions’ from yesteryear and those usually don’t work either.  Well guess what?  I’m calling this out as foolish. What on earth is wrong with being intentional about making a fresh new year your best yet?  

Now, for the downer pessimists (I know, I know, they call themselves ‘realists’ but the ‘reality’ is they are downer pessimists) who want to tell you that it’s stupid because nothing will change I will tell you: if you don’t change anything you’re completely right.  Nothing will change.  So if your Resolution is to earn more money, but you don’t learn new skills or apply for new jobs, you will not make your resolution happen.  My husband and I do goals every year and you know what?  We achieve them!  The reason why we achieve them is because we are good at setting goals that work.  These goal setting techniques have helped me achieve things that a lot of people have told me is unlikely or impossible.  I have written a novel in 30 days, I have carried twins to 38 weeks (and gotten to my pre-pregnancy body in 6 months), we have started successful businesses, we have survived newborn twins and a toddler and we have also gotten through some really hard stuff as well.  

Because I like you and want you to be successful, I’m going to share what you need to do to make your resolutions happen.  (Unless of course, you’d prefer to be ultra cool and laugh about how you’re going to ensure your unsatisfactory life stays that way forever.)  I think these will work for everyone.  Some of them seem weird and uncomfortable, so you have a choice.  You can try it anyway, or you can say, in a whiny, fearful voice “that’s different from what I’m used to.  I’m not going to do anything different.”  Cool  Then guess what?  (See paragraph one).  

1.    For all your ‘resolutions’ or goals, get to your ‘why’.  For example if you want to get a new job in 2015, ask why? So you can make more money? Why? So you can upgrade your home?  Why? So you can live in a more tranquil environment?  Why? So you can feel more peaceful?  AHA…you are getting close to your why.  Going through this process will give you clarity to what you REALLY want in life and some insight into what your core beliefs tell you will get you there. You can then decide if you’re on the right track or not.  Do this for all your resolutions.  Get down to anywhere from 1-3 big “Why’s”.  One might be, “I want to work in a career that makes a difference in my community and earns me enough money to provide for my family and help others in need.”

2.    For each WHY, pick a few milestones that will get you there.  They might need to be incremental.   I like to include an overall goal as well as a performance goal physically. For example, “I am going to increase my marketability by earning a sought after credential” or “I am going to increase my professional network by joining an industry association and attending the meetings.”

3.    For each milestone, develop a list of the behaviors that get you to where you want to be.  You’re not going to get a certificate if you don’t research and start studying.  You won’t increase your network if you don’t meet new people.  

4.    Do your homework. ANY goal can be achieved if you break it into small enough pieces.  Remember this. If your goals seems unattainable, maybe you’re not being realistic about how long it will take.  Reassess.  If you have a goal you really want to achieve, but can’t break it down into the discrete steps you need to do to get here, you need to figure it out.  Research online, talk to a friend or a professional.  There are people who can help. If you think you should be able to do it yourself, or are embarrassed to ask for help, let me ask you…how’s that working out for you in getting to achieve your dreams?

5.    Affirmations.  Yes, they sound cheesy and weird.  You can let that stop you, it won’t bother me any, but once again, contempt prior to investigation is foolish.  Part of the reason resolutions fail is because we are trying to do something we don’t believe about ourselves.  If you believe you hate exercise or are just destined to be overweight you absolutely will be .  THE key to success (besides point number one) is to change your beliefs.  Write an affirmative statement about your resolution.  For it to be effective, it needs to be positive (not phrased in terms of a negative), present tense, action oriented.  For example a BAD one would be “I’m going to try not to hate my job”.  A GOOD one is “I take every opportunity I am presented with to teach, learn and grow.” And “I am developing my new career through hard work and mutually beneficial relationships.”

There’s more, but you get the general idea.  You can start over any day of the year. It’s never too late to start attaining your dream life, but you do need to start.  Why not New Year’s?