End of an Era: Stepping into 2022

This year has been a tough one for small businesses. The continued pandemic has largely moved the business world entirely online, and pivots have been necessary to navigate unprecedented circumstances. Likely, your business started and ended the year with very different sets of goals, challenges, and experiences.

While running a business during a pandemic and through the resulting economic and societal challenges has not been ideal, you’ve endured to the end of the year. You’ve likely come away with several business survival skills that have made your business stronger.

As you look forward to a “new normal,” first, pat yourself on the back — you made it this far and it’s too late to go back now.

We sometimes forget how much our psyches can endure until we look back at our experiences as a whole and realize we came out on the other side still standing. We got knocked down more than a few times, but if we hadn’t gotten back up, we’d be crawling instead of stepping into 2022.

2020 and 2021 had unique challenges, and as we forge ahead into 2022, let’s do so with as much presence and intention as possible. Forget new year’s resolutions; uncover what you want to experience, cultivate, and create this year and work effortlessly to bring your vision to life.

The holiday period, that should be full of joy and peace, is often punctuated by stress, anxiety, and frustration. There are deadlines to meet, holiday shopping to do (among unforgiving crowds), and decorations to put up and then take down. With all of this going on around them, employees easily become distracted and lose interest.

Keeping employees engaged is the edge that will propel your business to starting the New Year with a bang. Here are seven ways in which leaders and business owners can inject the motivational spark that keeps employees working to achieve this year’s goals and blast into next year’s targets.

1. Thank your employees for their hard work

At this time of year, a gift from work is commonplace. What is not expected is a demonstration of thanks for extra effort. Taking the time to do so inspires employees to keep going, realizing that their work is recognized as being valuable. Research has shown that nine out of ten people are motivated to stretch themselves when they are recognized by their manager. Writing a note, sending an email, or mentioning an outperformer in a team meeting produces a massive payback.

2. Hold your own team awards week

Building on the concept of recognition and thanks, plan a week of awards for work well done. Send an email out a week or two before, and then make sure you send an email out after each ‘award ceremony’. Employees will be motivated to continue their hard work, to see if they are a winner. The value of the award is heightened even further by the email alert, especially if it’s company wide.

3. Help your employees to be charitable

People work at your organization because they identify with its values and mission. Show them that you identify with theirs, too, by allowing them a day or half-day to undertake volunteer work. Or you could encourage your team to identify a ‘team cause’, and sponsor a team-volunteering day: great as a team building exercise, too, while giving back to the community.

4. Allow people to work flexibly

People will be busy in the office, but they will also have huge commitments outside of the office – especially at this time of year. Offering flexible working hours enables people to commit fully to both their personal and professional lives. A working mother or father can take an afternoon out to go and see their child in the school performance; an employee take a couple of hours to buy gifts for loved ones, or any one of a hundred different things that call on their time.

Don’t think that your generosity with company time will go unnoticed: flexible working hours often means the employee is more productive when they are in the office.

5. Engage people in the decision making process

Empowered leaders in the modern working environment understand that sharing ownership of decisions with their people engages employees more fully. As a part of the decision making process, responsibility for performance transfers to them: when their ideas work, satisfaction increases and motivation follows. And when they don’t work, people will have greater motivation to iterate process and procedure to get it right.

6. Make every meeting motivational

Hold an end-of-week meeting at which you encourage people to share their positive and negative experiences. The positives help to motivate for the coming week, while negatives act as warnings of pitfalls for others to avoid. These meetings can also be used to make an ‘employee-of-the-week’ award, rewarding someone for outstanding performance or great teamwork.

If you have a method which works to maintain your commitments, stick with it. Also consider new approaches which may make you even stronger and more rigorous in the choices you’ll make. Stick with your goals and you’ll certainly see a payoff in your improvement, growth and career development.

On that note, we wish you a very Happy New Year!

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