Leaders should reflect on their businesses monthly, quarterly and annually, looking at what did and didn't work. It's the only way to keep pushing the needle forward and grow.
And while every company's challenges are unique, there are a few things all leaders can do to ensure they see bigger wins in the upcoming year.
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1. Develop backwards timelines.
People focus on weekly or daily to-do lists, but they don't always look at the bigger picture. Help staff see through this lens and ask them what they want their yearly contribution to be and how will they achieve that? Whether it's helping cut costs, growing annual revenues by a certain percent or building national brand awareness, encourage them to think about the future. Then create a backwards timeline of how to get there month by month, week by week, and day by day.
2. Invest in the term 'accountability.'
Staff should hold themselves accountable and be accountable to their colleagues. Being accountable means taking ownership on a project or assignment, and taking full responsibility for any shortcomings. It encourages a more aggressive attitude towards completing a goal, because there's more purpose and passion when a promise is made to a team.
3. Practice 'corporate grandparenting.'
This is a management and retention strategy of creating relationships with employees two levels below where someone sits in the corporate hierarchy, allowing for an open dialogue beyond direct reports. While mentorship programs operate to advance an employee's hard skillset, discussions that take part through corporate grandparenting are more about bigger picture things like corporate values and how the employee can contribute to the end goal.
4. Refill an empty organizational chart.
Business leaders need to look at a blank company organizational chart on a quarterly basis, then refill it. This doesn't always mean exiting someone from the organization but making adjustments. Consider moving employees with strong work ethics who aren't producing to a different group. If the employee is currently a revenue producer, would it make sense to put them in non-revenue producing role? Would their energy be suitable in a different group that lacks morale? The slightest change can make the biggest difference. Also, during this reorg, think about new business opportunities. If the company were to get a flood of new business, which unit would be overwhelmed? Which team would be understaffed or lack the skills to do the job? Then, fix the problem before it happens.
5. Conduct stay interviews.
Stay interviews are interviews conducted between a high-potential employee and their manager with the sole intent to retain employees and keep them happy and motivated. It's a performance review on the company to understand what top performers are most excited about or motivated by and what might tempt them to leave. Stay interviews help companies avoid turnover by pinpointing employee pain points before they are out the door.
6. Create a mentorship program.
A leading reason people quit companies is because they don't feel invested in. A mentorship program allows for one-on-one developmental training from tenured staff, which helps increase employee retention. It also gets new hires assimilated to their roles and to the company culture faster.
7. Commit to inspire.
Inspiration has to come from the top. The leader has to take full responsibility and accountability for how his/her staff is developing and make tough decisions when needed. Reflect on last year and consider the hard decisions that were made. How would they be handled differently if they resurfaced this year?
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