4 business practices to leave behind in 2017
Culture | December 29, 2016
Steph emailed us last week sharing a unique dilemma. She was actually looking forward to a meeting, for once, and needed help preparing for it. Her manager, Gwen, had given her (and every attendant) an assignment for the half-day meeting. Every participant was asked to share their thoughts on the question: “What is the one initiative or trend our business has undertaken in the last year that we should pause or abandon in 2017—and why?” Gwen asked everyone to come prepared to discuss, because at the end of the meeting, the group’s ideas would be sent to the executive team for consideration.
“It really got me thinking,” Steph wrote. “Of course, my company isn’t perfect. But I’m pretty happy with how things run every day. I don’t know that I can point a finger at one specific trend I’ve been unhappy with. What do you think? Are there any trends that are pretty widespread around businesses throughout America that actually hurt companies and their employees? I want to share something insightful at our year-end roundup, and I thought you could help.”
With that in mind, we compiled this list for Steph—and for you. Not all of these points apply to every company, but as business speakers and consultants, we’ve see them crop up in every kind of organization: big and small, private and public, start-up and established. Read on for the insights that will prepare you for 2017—whether you’re attending a meeting like Steph’s, or you just want to prepare to lead in the right direction in the year ahead.
1. Overlooking Onboarding.
If your business doesn’t have a well-planned onboarding strategy, you’re missing out. Not only does onboarding prepare new employees to get along with their new team, a great program will also give them the tools and skills they need to understand the business inside and out. Plus, research shows that nearly 7/10 employees are more likely to stay with a new company for at least three years after a great onboarding experience. In today’s high-turnover environment, that’s key—especially since up to 20% of turnover happens within the first month and a half of employment. So if you don’t have a great onboarding program, now’s the time to rethink your strategy. And take your time—employees whose companies have long onboarding programs are proficient in their roles 4 months sooner than those who have a brief onboarding experience.
2. Outsourcing Top Leaders.
Harvard Business Review recently released the findings of a ten-year long study on great executives. The findings reveal that two traits the very best leaders exhibit are industry knowledge and a real understanding of their company—inside-out, top-to-bottom, from initiatives to employees, and everything in between. But how are such leaders made? In our experience, it’s all about the time and effort executives put in during the course of their careers. The truth is, the best way to build a knowledge base specific to your company and your people is to put in the time, learn the ropes, master the skills, and grow as a respected leader among peers and colleagues. Companies that often outsource for executive positions are missing out on reaping the benefits of their own top talent. And as Harvard’s recent research shows, homegrown leadership might be the way to go.
3. Letting Tech Do All the Work.
The 21st century is great, right? Professionals use online tools to plan everything from meetings, to meals, to Mother’s Day. The convenience and knowledge at our fingertips make life better in myriad ways. But the truth is, tech isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. There’s something to be said for “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” because certain messages—like a genuine thank you—are still more powerful when they’re delivered the old-fashioned way. There’s a time and a place for sending quick e-cards, like for a pat on the back or last-minute team motivation. But if you’re really trying to thank someone who has done an extraordinary job—whose efforts and expertise saved the day—you have to do it in person. And if you can, you should include the team in the celebration, too. Otherwise, your appreciation may fall flat. It’s key to match your appreciation to the occasion—so read up on how to best deliver thanks before you fall back on a stand-by that might miss the mark.
4. Overstuffing Your Closet.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the notion of creating new habits for a new year, but it’s a trend we all tend to practice as we approach the conversation about New Year’s Resolutions. You’ve read the articles and business books. You attended the seminars and come back thinking about all the new ways your going to improve work. But, there’s also a wise old theory of organization that says, ‘If you buy a new shirt, you should ditch one old shirt from your closet.’ So, as you head into the new year, be mindful that as you add new practices to your plate and consider all the things you need to start doing in 2017, you also need to think about all the things you need to stop doing. And, that takes some prioritizing. Don’t make the mistake of dropping the practices that create the biggest impact—like recognizing the people who work with and for you.
Around the country, you’d be hard-pressed to find a business that avoids all four of these tired trends. Even Steph confirmed it. “These are on point,” she wrote us in her response. “In fact, Gwen brought up our lack of onboarding solutions at the beginning of the meeting as an example. And it’s true! We hardly stop to welcome new employees, let alone integrate them into the team. I’ve been here so long that I hadn’t stopped to think about it—but it’s true. And my organization doesn’t do a great job of creating a leadership growth pathway, either. That’s what I shared, and a lot of people nodded in agreement. I think there’s a lot of growth to be had, even in businesses that treat people well.” And that’s the bottom line. You’re probably doing a great job, but there are still ways to improve. Sound off below and let us know if there are other trends you want to retire as a business New Year’s resolution.
This post was originally published on Forbes.