Another year has ended and no doubt your team worked hard to the very end to hit their marks. While there's lots to celebrate about that, good leaders recognize that they may have tapped out their reserves to make it happen. Your team may need to refresh and recharge to bring their best to the table for 2017. In this article, I will cover three ways your team might be feeling at the beginning of 2017 and three ways you can sharpen your team-building skills to help them replenish their energy and enthusiasm. It may help you achieve even more in the next twelve months.
Tap Into How Your Team Is Feeling Right Now
Let's face it: Pushing to hit year-end goals can sap resources like nothing else. Long hours of mental, emotional and physical focus can tap out even the most seasoned worker. Though they may have gotten a short break between Christmas and New Year's, chances are your team isn't coming back to work at 100 percent capacity.
Before we tackle how to help them get their mojo back, let's take a few minutes to consider how they might be feeling right now. (Empathy is one of my high-priority team-building skills.)
Your team members may be feeling one, two or all three of these emotions. They may even move from one to another at any given moment:
- Burned out. Some of your team members may feel as though they gave it everything they had, burned the candle at both ends and used up all of their reserves towards the end of the year. A few days off may not be enough time for them to refill the tank so they can bring their best back to the table.
- Unappreciated. It's frustrating to work as hard as you can and have it go unnoticed. Whether they hit their year-end goal or not, acknowledging their hard work and contribution may do a lot of good—especially if you want them to do it all over again.
- Hungry to prove themselves. With a new year wide open in front of them, your team may see a fresh opportunity to show what they can do. You can fill their tank with all the right stuff to help them soar.
Build On Your Team-Building Skill Set
Now that we've gotten a clearer picture of how your team may be feeling right now, let's turn our attention to what you, their leader, can give them to replenish, re-energize and refocus their efforts.
This can be a great time to sharpen your team-building skills. Done right, your efforts can help create a sustainable momentum that may help your team succeed in 2017.
1. Debrief 2016.
Consider setting aside a few hours to revisit 2016. You can go beyond the cursory broad brush debrief and dig down into what went well and figure out how it went well. Who contributed what to make it happen? How can more of that occur? Could it have gone even better? How?
You can use the same magnifying glass on the things that did not go as well as expected. Ask the hard questions. Is there a missing skill set on your team? Was there an unforeseen impediment? How will you deal with it if it, or any other unexpected setback, shows up? And, something I think is most important, find out who got credit and acknowledgement and who should have and didn't.
2. Go overboard with appreciation.
Genuine appreciation and gratitude can help you refill your team's tank. You could give a handwritten note, a gift card or another special something to individuals who went above and beyond in 2016 and to those who continue to go above and beyond in 2017.
As the team leader, consider making time to ask each individual about their favorite places and things. This can help you personalize your expressions of gratitude and acknowledgement. Make sure you use your team-building skills to appreciate the team as a whole, too. Plan team recharge outings or schedule some special breaks in the office. When your team knows you appreciate how hard they are working, they may work even harder for you.
3. Ask your team what they need from you in 2017.
This may be the most important team-building skill you can develop and one of the most difficult. Pose the question and then stop talking. No matter what they say, write it down. Lead with curiosity, ask them to say more and keep any judgement you feel to yourself. This is not the time to interject your opinion about what they want from you.
After you've made a list of their needs, mull it over and then come back to them with how you can deliver. You may not be able to deliver everything they asked for, so try to be honest and upfront about it.
And if you're really brave, ask them what they needed from you in 2016 and didn't get. Same rules as above apply: No judgement, just listen. This exercise may help give you rich information on how to be a better team leader.
Consider investing in replenishing your team right now, while 2016 is still fresh and before 2017 picks up its pace. Recharge them. Re-energize them. Lead them. Continue mastering your team-building skills and you, your team and the work you produce may be the better for it.
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