Managers: 4 things to check before the year ends
As the year winds down, it's a good time for managers to step back for a little review and reflection. I suggest that you check areas that are time-sensitive as well as those that are timeless leadership responsibilities and opportunities.
You're busy, of course, so I'll keep the list concise:
- Look at your budget. Is there any use-it-or-lose-it money that will evaporate at the end of December? If so, how might you creatively put that to work in a hurry? While you are scanning your financial records, review your spending categories. Are you seeing any trends, any surprises during this calendar year? What does it tell you about planning and priorities? How might that guide your future decision-making?
- Look at your team. Who hasn't had some quality time with you in a while? It might be your highest performers, the ones who don't make problems and often get less attention. Don't miss a chance to let them know they're truly appreciated. What about your newest hires? Are they still happy they signed on? Listening to their feedback can help them -- and you. On reflection, how would you describe your entire team's year? Was it one of accomplishment, turbulence, growth or resilience? How can you help the staff learn from the year's low points and celebrate the highs? The way you frame that story can tee them up for a focused re-start in January.
- Look at your tools and training. Did you introduce new hardware or software this year? Who's using it well? Who's lagging and could use some coaching? What's broken and still hasn't been fixed or is dated and causing frustration? Can you make one more stab at short-term fixes -- or at least communicate the long-term solution strategy to the troops? Sometimes they just need to hear one more time that you feel their pain and have a plan. What conversations should you have about training in general - from technology to skills - to improve your team's performance? If your training budget is low or non-existent, can you tap your in-house experts to help? Now's a good time to put that plan together for the road ahead.
- Look in the mirror. I've asked you to consider your budget, team and tools, but you're important as well. I know too many dedicated managers who forget to take good care of themselves as they tend to the needs of the organization. What did you do just for you this past year? Did you take time to recharge your batteries? When the digital world conspires to keep you "always on," have you learned when and how to disconnect? Are you effectively delegating to others by sharing knowledge and power? Did you get a chance to learn something new that made you more effective in your role, or simply happier as a person? If you haven't done enough for yourself this year, how about pledging to make it happen in the year ahead?
As you do your review, there's one more important thing to keep in mind. I share that extra tip in this column's companion "What Great Bosses Know" podcast:
FYI: if you're a podcast fan, you can download my entire Poynter "What Great Bosses Know" collection free on ITunesU.