Having a nice restful break is a great thing. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the year that was, and to think about the upcoming year. I have some big challenges ahead next year as most others do as well.
This next year needs to be different for me. I need to think differently, act differently and lead differently. My management is expecting a breakthrough result, but the good news is I believe I have a plan.
While I can’t discuss the plan, I can describe some of the key considerations I made going into the development of the plan. These elements are answering the “why” question, developing a clear set of expectations (down to every team member from Day 1 of the new year) for higher levels of performance, strategies for rewarding team members who rise to the challenge as well as plans to deal with those who don’t make it (and that’s OK) and developing the metrics to figure out how we are doing.
Answering the “why” question is probably the most important part to get right. People will want to know why this plan, why we need a certain result, among other things. From there they will be able to better connect to the plan once it is communicated.
I will keep track of my progress here and share any lessons learned. No doubt there will be some.
A couple of weeks ago I received the results of the employee opinion survey. It’s hard to stomach reading about your failings as a leader, but if one can manage to set the ego aside, it can prove to be quite useful to find some improvement opportunities. The answer isn’t always what is obvious, but with some deeper analysis often some useful nuggets can be unearthed.
In my case, I was able to trace back a few key issues to a simple and common problem — communication. Specifically, my team felt that the information did not flow consistently and a couple of key topics. After having the sort of year we had, with the lack of a leader for over half of 2010, it wasn’t really a big surprise that I saw that feedback.
To respond to it, I have adopted the theme of rhythm. Rhythm is defined as the uniform or recurrence of a beat, accent or the like. In this context, I am applying rhythm by making sure that regular communication meetings, employee 1:1 meetings among others are prioritized and carried out. People tend to appreciate a level of structure that they can count on. It is kind of like a metronome is used by a musician. Even if they choose to complain about more meetings, they actually do want those frequent touch points. I also used to complain when a metronome was brought out when practicing piano!
This seems obvious, maybe, but the ability to respond, adapt and sustain new leadership habits is another example of a Big Play. So far, so good for me after making this choice. The feedback has been positive, and it has done a lot to help me reconnect with my team.