The fiscal year for many companies ends December 31st, which is rapidly approaching. As I noted in last week’s blog, this is the time of year for annual performance reviews. When handled appropriately, the review can provide a source of renewal for employees. Your team will also benefit from renewal going into the new year.
The Definition of Renewal
Before I dive into why you should think about team renewal, I want to clarify what renewal is relative to teams. Team renewal is about restoring or replenishing your team with the goal of achieving improvement, and even better results in the next period. Similar to the impact of an effective annual performance review, managers can set their teams up for success in the next year by focusing on ‘team renewal’ at the end of the current year.
Why Your Team Could Benefit From Team Renewal
Many teams I have worked with start the year with challenging goals that seem impossible to meet. Those teams grind their way through the year toward those goals. Some of these teams are successful, some aren’t. But in either case, the year can feel like it’s just one long grind – without a break or an end in sight – before you start on the next year and new challenging goals. An effective renewal provides that short break that most teams need to regroup, celebrate, and reload for the next year.
The following are some of the specific benefits of renewing your team on at least an annual basis:
- First and foremost, renewal can help unify your team and reinforce your team’s identity.
- Renewal provides a break, even of just a day, in the type of work you and your employees do. It requires you and your employees to use different skills and thought processes which is stimulating.
- The process will provide employees with the opportunity to participate in the discussion, thereby increasing their engagement.
- Team renewal will reinforce the importance of achieving ‘team’ goals, along with individual goals
- It will provide the opportunity for your team to learn from the past by discussing past scenarios and actions that worked well, and didn’t work well.
- The group will be able to recognize and celebrate the team and, even individual, accomplishments.
- Renewal will provide a solid foundation for projecting past achievements and team growth into the future
- You will achieve a higher level of energy, commitment and accountability from your employees as you start the new year.
How to Renew Your Team
The process I describe below will enable you and your team to relive the past year with the goal of starting the next year with renewed energy and enthusiasm. I recommend that you schedule a day away from the office if possible where you can meet informally with your team. You need to set up the day appropriately with your team by telling them what you will be doing, and why you are doing it. Here are the major steps:
- Get back to basics. First, have your team put away their laptops, smart phones, etc. and capture the day’s discussions with flip charts or large sheets of paper taped to a wall.
- Start at the beginning. Have your team discuss what the team experienced and did from the beginning of the year through to the end. Be specific with details on who, what, when, where and why.
- Re-create your team’s history for the year. Make sure you capture the positives and negatives, including accomplishments and setbacks. Capture those with drawings and include names, dates, key decisions, external forces, customers, products, emotions and so forth.
- Get individual feedback. Seek out everyone on your team and ask him or her about his or her part on the team. If you have a really large team, you may want to break into small groups of 2-3 to ensure that people get involved in the process.
- Record everything. You should see an increase in energy and enthusiasm with your team. Try to capture their emotions and feelings, as best you can on paper.
- Analyze as a group. Next, lead your team through an exercise of capturing what the team learned about the year. This could be documenting what the team should start doing, stop doing and continue doing. You can also have the team do a SWOT analysis to develop a common understanding of the team’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Talk about what the team would want to do differently to ensure success in the future.
- Summarize and look forward. Make sure, at the end, after the team has gotten everything out on paper, that you yourself summarize the team’s accomplishments and growth through the year. Tell them how you will incorporate their input and ideas into your plans for the upcoming year.
- Celebrate! Finally, celebrate your team’s accomplishments for the last year by providing a team celebration. This could be a nice dinner out with significant others or just with the team.
Congratulations! By completing the renewal exercise, you have successfully closed out the last year, re-energized your team and set you and your team up for success in the next year.
Sometimes, it can be helpful to have an outside facilitator for this work so that you can fully participate. Contact us if you would like to discuss our services. We offer a money back guarantee that you will be satisfied with your results.
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