January: The month of energy.
Updated: Dec 11, 2021
Every organisation usually reset their annual work and performance year in January (I understand that few organisation has different financial year cycle, but most companies and organisations follows January-to-December cycle as their annual performance calendar). If you lead a team - or HR business partner for a team - January is the month you must leverage to build a new momentum as you started fresh. Here are couple of things I would advise you to do in January.
As per one of my blog has stated, Clarity is key for any People Manager. Bring clarity as soon as possible to your team on what are priorities that you want to drive this year. Get as many inputs as possible (data points, feedback, insights), align with your line manager/Board and other key stakeholders, and then debate and discuss with your team to sharpen the direction you already had.
By "Clarity" I'm referring to as much as operational as you can get. The best output of your first team meeting in January is a work plan of everyone in the team that is aligned one-another. Look for synergy, and be brutal on priorities: aim for initiative that really going to shift the needle. Once you have clear draft on this year priorities, then drive the next "C" (re: cross-functional alignment) and inform them from the very beginning that you will be driving this-and-that, and will say "no" to this-and-that. It is important to ensure you put the right energy and focus to your priorities.
Now, to close the loop, discuss with your team the final "C" our of the triangulation of Clarity, Cross-functional alignment, and Commitment. Yes, drive commitment. How to do it? By ending your team session with defining clear milestones throughout the year (I would suggest once every quarter at least), where you and the team will gather to review how things unfold while (hopefully) celebrating every key milestone you would have achieved by then if you do your January start right, including fully-aligned stakeholders.
Nothing gives you the best feeling in the world as a Manager (or HR Business Partner) in January, but to see there is an air of energy coming out from the people you are leading/managing as they get the basic rights: clarity, cross-functional alignment, and commitment.
How to do it? The soonest you get people back from their year-end leave, bring them all together. Its a good momentum also to welcome them back from their well-deserved break, and provide bridging in their mood from holiday into back-to-actions. Treat them special welcome lunch, at the very least, as part of this energy-igniter. If schedule is tight, use your nearest Leadership Team monthly meeting that any Manager usually had, and spend time to do this.
To ensure maximum impact of the clarity you had, it would be good to also communicate the priorities to the wider operational team you are leading. If you are sitting in a C-suite, then your next 2-3 weeks to-do-list is to cascade your Board priorities down, and engage everyone in the organisation to own it. If you are leading an operational team, then the above is the only thing you need to do. Just reflect on magnitude on the communications, but its always good to over-communicate Clarity then under-communicate: that is the principle.
If you are the HR business partner of the unit/organisation, and you don't see the above happens, then have a conversation with Leader that you partner, and ensure it happens. You will lose your momentum to energize your organisation if you missed it. Not only it will help you to create a great Culture of responsibility and accountability throughout the organisation, it will also train your Leader to do things differently and making him/her a better leader this year.
Happy New Year!