THE THREE Rs FOR A STRONG, STRATEGIC Q4
Just a few weeks ago, my family and I had a whirlwind Labor Day weekend in Toronto to wrap up the summer. Over three jam-packed days, we took in all the city had to offer, including the Canadian National Exhibition, an outdoor concert by Arctic Monkeys, and roller coasters and fireworks at Canada’s Wonderland.
It was hot, humid, and tons of fun.
Since then, my son’s gone back to school, the leaves have started to change to orange and red, and my clients have well and truly returned to the office, some refreshed from vacation, all refocused on the last quarter of 2023.
For many people, September, more than January, is the actual new year, a reset for a last chance for a solid finish to the year.
Bon voyage, vacation vibes!
While this clean slate can be invigorating, it can be overwhelming. We’ve all had that feeling of returning to work after a holiday, all rested and renewed, only to find that freshness evaporating by noon. Sadly, vacation vibes tend to fade quickly in the face of workplace realities. You’ve got real work to get done, goals to accomplish, strategy to execute. Team members still need attention. Competitors are still competing. Customers are still demanding.
If you’re already feeling overloaded by accumulating demands, let’s take a breath, step back from task mode, and refocus on what matters most so you can effectively drive your strategy to results by year’s end.
Here are three ways to head into the rest of the year with clarity, calm and confidence. Sure, it might not be the Zen of vacation, but it beats the frantic busyness that is the norm for far too many leaders.
1. Revisit your map
The first step is to revisit your big picture: your strategy. Things change quickly in today’s hyper-accelerated business climate, including, perhaps, your company’s highest priorities. It’s easy for even small shifts in direction to get lost in the summer shuffle. So, before you launch into action mode, confirm if there have been any changes to your strategy that might have a knock-on effect on high-priority items.
Talk to your colleagues and higher-ups to ensure you’re up to speed, and confirm your course. Even subtle shifts in focus can compound results if you’re not aligned. It’s a lot easier to get clarity now so you can make any necessary adjustments to your team’s work plan for the rest of the year rather than trying to correct your course weeks or months down the road.
2. Reconnect with your team.
It’s easy in the summer to go days or even weeks without communicating with your colleagues and team members, especially since so many people now work in remote or hybrid models.
Fall is the perfect time to get the band back together. Make time to connect with your key team members individually and bring everyone together.
This is important for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a chance to reconnect around priorities and tasks and convey any shifts in direction. It’s also an opportunity to hear from your people about how their work is going and get debriefed on what they’ve been up to. What progress have they made on key projects? What challenges are they anticipating or experiencing?
Along with the work-focused part of this outreach, actively connecting with your people is also a chance to renew your relationships and show them that you care. This is crucial to engagement and employee satisfaction. People want to feel seen, valued and respected,to know that their contribution matters.
Once you’ve reconnected, make intentional regular communications, both one-on-one and as a group, part of your plan moving forward.
3. Reclaim your calendar
I’ve said it many times: leaders really only have two assets: your brain and how you choose to allocate your time to optimize it.
But too many leaders live deep in the weeds, lost in the day-to-day busywork of keeping things running. Delegation is critical to reclaiming your calendar and focusing on high-level thinking and tasks.
I’ll dig deeper into this vital topic in our next post. Along with an overview of the leading time management theories, I’ll share our tried-and-tested framework for getting the right things done, even amid the chaos. You can take back your time and head into the last few months of the year feeling calm, confident and in control.
For now, make a list of those things only you can do. Avoid the roller coaster. Anything that doesn’t make the list, delete or delegate.
As always, we love to hear from you. How do you refocus in the fall? What are your greatest challenges heading into the last stretch of the year?