Three powerful questions for you to ask at the beginning of the year

Forbes 10 days ago

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After the ball drops, after your team comes back from travel or hibernation, after you have your first leadership team meeting, it can feel like the new year is far behind. Yes, you did some planning for the first quarter and yes you will have a kick-off meeting. To capture the real advantage of the “clean slate” that the new year gives you, here are three questions for you to consider to jump start your year.

1) What is your theme for the year?

A theme for the year is a great rallying cry for the team. Themes can also serve as yardsticks. How does the team know what to do next or which project to focus on? Does one contribute more to theme for the year? Pick that one.

One companyI work with spent last year focused on the theme of “learning.” That caused them to prioritize projects that would teach them the most. Yes, of course they sold to customers and fixed bugs and delivered new features. But they allocated time, energy, effort and money to thinking about what they wanted to learn and designing experiments to learn that. They dedicated time to debriefing these projects so they could reap and share the learning and they consciously implemented their new knowledge.

This year their theme is “execution.” They are ready to start building stronger processes. They are structured to do what they know works rather than choose to do something off the beaten path to see what happens. This shift will determine their work plans for the year.

2) What are your “quick wins?”

One of the best ways to motivate people is to help them feel successful. A good way to do that is to set some very attainable goals that people can achieve in a short period of time. Yes, you need medium and long-term goals, of course! Medium and long-terms goals are made up of short “sprint” milestones and helping the team set these up consciously will drive a winning culture.

One of the CEOs I coach is the founder of a SaaS software company. One of the company’s goals for the first 90 days of the year is to redesign and implement a new pricing model. So far so good: that’s tangible and that’s very important for the company. But it’s a bit of a slog. It will take the entire time to complete that deliverable. What is a quick win that someone can declare in the first month to help generate momentum and positive feeling?

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