Rallying Your Team at the New Year

The cold, the dark, the post-holiday hangover… we get it, it’s hard to motivate your team in January. And with the unemployment rate at its lowest point in years, offering more money alone isn’t going to cut it.

Instead, you’re going to have to give people a reason to come in in the morning; you’ll have to convince them that the work they’re doing is worthwhile. So take advantage of these slower weeks to really think about how you can rally your team around your mission and make their work more meaningful.

This certainly sounds like a lofty aspiration, so before going on a vision quest, remember:

  • You don’t have to reinvent your company’s purpose or vision statement. Just focus on your team’s purpose—who are you trying to serve? What can you realistically impact?

  • Your work doesn’t have to save the world to be meaningful. It can be as straightforward as giving your customers peace of mind or providing them with more value. What are you doing to be useful? Why do customers keep coming back?

With those parameters in mind, you can help your team make the most of 2018 by doing the following:

  • Discuss what they want to accomplish professionally. We love the concept of jobs as a “tour of duty” — a set period of time that a company or team and an individual commit to each other in order to achieve a mutually beneficial goal. At the end of that tour, employees are welcome to re-up or move on, but for the time being (usually a two- to four-year cycle), both parties have a clear idea of what it is they’re here to accomplish. In fact, having a defined assignment with a clear endpoint can make people feel more satisfied than an open-ended but nebulous role. Sit down with your employees in a 1:1and map out how they want to progress in the coming year or two, and how that will contribute to the team’s overarching goals.

  • Remind them of how their work impacts others. The beginning of the year is a great time to reflect on the bigger picture, so ask your team to share stories about a time when they made a difference in a customer’s life. You can also show how your work impacts people by experiencing a “day in the life” of customers or partners. At a Starbucks leadership offsite, for instance, store managers learned more about the coffee farming process—including raking coffee beans—so they would be able to share the information with customers.

  • Dedicate time to making the work itself better. Part of your role as leader is to remove the obstacles that prevent people from doing their best work. Schedule Customer Sensing meetings,Retrospectives, and 1:1s to give your team time to reflect on how they’re working together throughout the year and make course corrections as needed. Bonus points if you set up an offsite.

Next week, we’ll look at how you can put a personal stamp on your company’s vision when you’re a new leader. Know of a new leader, or someone who’s looking to improve their leadership game this year? Encourage them tosign up for our newsletter!


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