March-April: the month of momentum and rallying potential.
Updated: May 31, 2019
The word of “March” is adopted from Mars, or the "God of War" in the Roman civilization. English word “march” (such as in 'marching'), hence related to the war-like actions, where a group of people rallying together in a show of force going for an action. Just like a marching band, where the parading players are as awesome as the music it plays. In a marching band, the power of the musical performance lies in the large numbers of instruments that is being played with scale. Equally the same with organisation, in which you need everyone to work together in the same rhythm. In my view, that is also what a month of March means for a Leader: to get everyone at the same rhythm. Not only it is the month to rally organization, but also to energize them for marching to the second, third and final milestones, in the same rhythm. In most organisation, March-April is where a quarter (Q1) ends, and if your start the year with a great Q1, it is easier to maintain the winning momentum and bullish feeling of your team to get into your first semester target (Q2), the quarter afterward (Q3), and then closing the year (Q4) with a high note. In a race, Q1 is your first sprints where energy at its height. You can't lose that energy.
The reason why March is also a good month to rally the whole organization is because you want to achieve a quick wins of your annual business objectives. In FMCG industry, first quarter achievement for the business always important to fuel the next three-quarters journey. March-April, is the month with a momentum to leverage. If you are a revenue-driven organization, this is where your 3-4 months plan shows whether choices you have made on your go to market strategy works or not. In publicly-listed company, March-April is an important milestone since analysts would take result of these months as the first impression of how business is going for the year. This is also a period where the first 100 days gone, and most of your team members and employees would like to understand how things are in the business, and consequently, how they have contributed impacts to the bigger scheme of things. This is also why, the month of April would be a good pit-stop for you to celebrate any achievements you would have made in March and close Q1 strongly, from team energy perspective.
Do this in March-April
Here are simple things you can do as a Leader to utilize the unique momentum of the March-April (and hence, HR business partner also need to help remind their leader accordingly):
1. Do your quarterly checks and taking stocks on how things are going so far. And take your team for a half-day or a full-day time out to reflect, celebrate and recharge, and plan for Q2 stronger delivery.
2. If you already have a monthly Townhall event as your leadership engagement platform, make the Q1 townhall special by celebrating any achievement you can collected and has made impacts. If you lead a small team, then you can do a small 'away day' to deliver the same purpose. Leading a team means to energize them for a long marathon, and Q1 is the right “water station” to rehydrate and re-energize the team for another three quarters to go.
3. Use the first-half of your townhall event or team 'away day' simply to share how the business is going, recognize achievements and celebrate any notable contribution that made impacts to any positive momentum. Remember, the keyword is to energize.
4. Now, with the first-half celebration gone, use the second-half of the Townhall/team 'away day' to re-strengthen commitment and sharpen team’s focus by nailing down key priorities that everyone must drive cross-functionally. Host a discussion or a working session if needed, depend on how you want to position the second half opportunity to use the energy you created on the first-half to fuel marching-force entering second half. This is even more important if you lead large team with cross-functional agendas, as you can use March to remind everyone about “One Goal, One Team and One Achievement” prioritization in which everyone need to land key needle-shifting impacts that might need other team members to support which can potentially lead to de-prioritise other elements. This is the moment where you bring your whole team to make choices (i.e service vs costs, market share vs volume, going-wide-but-shallow vs going-segmented-but deep, etc).
5. If your business is not as large as others, in which you need to drive cross-functional collaboration, then use the second-half Townhall/ team 'away day' to simply ask your team member to take time to sharpen and share their individual action plan and commitment to drive second-quarter impacts, and how you as Leader can help them to make it happen. I would also suggest that you are using this Q1 moment of engagement to deliver feedbacks on behavior to sustain, and behavior to adjust.
This is how I positioned the month of March-April in the cycle of leadership engagement. It’s the best pit-stop in the year, as its momentum will set the tone for your entire business year, so don't lose it.