5 ways to inspire your team for the new year
By liz sheffield in Appreciation
Dark nights. Cold days. Even amidst holiday cheer, it can be difficult to inspire employees and your team about what’s ahead in the New Year. “More work? Thanks, I’ll take a rain check!” If you’re finding that it’s bah-hum-bug around your office, here are five ways to create some inspiration for the year ahead.
1. Appreciate employees for their contributions in the past year.
How are you celebrating what your employees, team, department, organization accomplished in the past 365 days? You don’t need to plan an elaborate celebration; a simple demonstration of your appreciation will go a long way towards creating a strong foundation for the next year. Schedule time on your calendar to handwrite thank you notes to employees, send emails to express your gratitude or give recognition during a team meeting before the year is over. (Side note: expressing your gratitude is also important if you want your employees to be working for you next year—lack of appreciation is the number one reason people leave.)
2. Set a clear strategy, and stick to it.
Don’t put off your strategic planning until January—employees need a map of where they’re going. Without direction, it’s difficult to get inspired. If you already have next year’s strategy identified, be sure you’ve shared it with employees at all levels. Talk with employees about how their role directly contributes to the organization’s success—they’re more likely to feel inspired if they know their contributions will make a difference. And, as much as possible, once you’ve set the annual strategy stick to it. There’s nothing more frustrating for employees than buying into a strategy only to find the organization has left that strategy in the dust just two months later.
3. Plan for professional development.
Engaged employees are not only invested in your company’s growth, but they’re also focused on their own development. Start having conversations now about development planning for the next six to 12 months. Even if an employee isn’t promotion ready, talk about their professional interests and goals. What types of development can you suggest to help them achieve those goals? Maybe you can find a suitable mentor, enroll them in a workshop, or recommend a time-limited assignment in which they can increase their skills and knowledge. Make professional development a priority and employees will look forward to the next 365 days.
4. Ask for insight.
Employees have ideas to share; ask them for their input. This request for their insight will serve to inspire them, and their ideas might just deliver some amazing business results. LinkedIn has a quarterly program called [in]cubator in which “any LinkedIn employee can come up with an idea, put together a team, and pitch their project to the executive staff.” Talk about inspiring! This type of program may not be an option for your company, but asking employees to make suggestions or share their idea about a solution is something we can each do every day.
5. Share your inspiration.
As a leader, you set the tone for your team. If you can’t wait to tackle what’s ahead in the New Year, your enthusiasm and inspiration will rub off on those around you. Likewise, if you’re not feeling inspired about where your business is going, employees will struggle to find work-related inspiration, too. If you need a boost, check out these quotes—they’ll help you pause, reflect, and discover some inspiration about what’s to come once January arrives.
Don’t let Scrooge take the reigns—with some thought and care, you can create opportunities and moments that will unleash inspiration and create a sense of possibility about what you and your employees can accomplish—together—in the year ahead.