As the first days of school begin, as the leaves begin to show their colors, there is not a more perfect time for leadership to reawaken a team bidding farewell to summertime. Remember back to getting ready for a new school year. Each September I would choose a new outfit for the first day of school. I would grab my new notebooks and pens and head out the door with an optimism and hope for a successful year ahead. It was a great feeling to think I could begin anew each fall and transform myself into a “new me”. Although I could build upon my successes of the previous school year, I could also create a new vision of how the coming year should take shape. Who would I reconnect with? What new skills and knowledge would I obtain? What projects or reports would I be given and could I achieve my best grades? It is time to reboot and open ourselves up to what the coming year has to offer! What a perfect opportunity for leaders to recharge our teams!
Hold a team dream session: One great way to “psyche up” a team is to gather for a re-imagine meet up. Send out an invitation to each of your team members and ask them to prepare a list of things they enjoyed doing this past year and things they might be interested in doing in the coming year. The key is to keep this session as optimistic as possible- focusing on upbeat projects and connections. Make sure each team member gets an opportunity to share their ideas and try to have everyone stay as open-minded as possible. Put everyone’s suggestions on a board or poster to visually see what was successful in the past year and what might motivate the team in the upcoming year. Finally vote on 3 or 4 ideas to delve into more deeply. Make sure to follow through on those ideas and implement the new direction or project.
Get reacquainted with the team: Over the course of a year many of us experience changes and challenges in our lives. It has been proven if team members are willing to be vulnerable and share personal obstacles with each other, a more trusting environment will emerge. Over coffee or lunch, leaders and team members can make the time to purposefully share stories and events that have impacted them during the past year. Getting to know the entire person can bring great insights into the ways we relate to one another. Establishing rapport is the best way for leaders to bring energy and electricity to a team’s performance.
Commit to transparency and honesty: Make this the year that you lead with an open flow of information and communication. When new projects and directives are launched, lead with clear vision and succinct goals. Be honest about your expectations and encourage truthful reporting. Each team member should be held accountable and understand clearly what their job responsibilities include. Create short-term feedback mechanisms to timely discover obstacles or barriers to successful completion of projects. When mistakes are made and we all make them, make sure lessons are learned. We all need to grow and blossom professionally. Lead with an eye to helping develop future leaders.
Are you ready for September? Are you gearing up for a new year ahead? How are you preparing for your new work year?