BY MANDY GILBERT, FOUNDER AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE, CREATIVE NICHE@VERYNICHEY
Don't miss the opportunity to look back and learn from last year. Whether it is your first year in business or your 15th, now is the time to reflect on your accomplishments and analyze your challenges so you can start 2023 on a fresh new page. No need to carry the same baggage around for another lap around the sun. Just like you would examine your finances, it is vital to use the same attention to detail when looking at yourself and your leadership in order for growth and change to happen.
1. Ask yourself the tough questions.
Where to start? Turn a critical eye on yourself. Here is the part where we get to ask one of my favorite questions: Would you want to work for your company? Take the time to make notes on what you like about your company and what you don't. In the moments that you struggled through, think about who and what helped you reach a solution. Now, do you recognize or celebrate the small and big victories? It can be enlightening to comprehend how you react to wins and losses.
Focusing on your employees will show you how your company culture is doing and, most importantly, whether it's what you imagined when you started out. Do you and your employees like coming to work each day? Do your employees feel heard and seen? Do they understand the goals and trajectory of the company? Informed and engaged employees will have a much higher interest and stake in the state of the organization.
2. Get feedback from your team.
I'll never forget being forced to open up a document that was filled with brutal feedback on my leadership abilities during a course I was taking. This feedback was an intense blow to my confidence. My biggest lesson during that experience was to face it head-on. As soon as I got back to the office, I called a meeting to discuss my experience and we talked about their feedback together. I promised my team I would be better, and I like to think that I did.
Ask your employees and leadership team for feedback. There is a reason you hired these individuals. Never overlook the importance of having an open line of communication with them. All this can be done in several ways: anonymous surveys, one on one meetings with management, performance reviews and simple honest casual conversations. What you should be looking for is the common threads: What are employees struggling with and what is working well?
3. Walk the talk.
Now here comes the hard part. You've reflected, you've listened, you've learned, but now you have to act on those lessons. This is a learning opportunity in itself. It is easy to say you will incorporate a change, do better, and be better, but it is entirely different to live within those changes day to day. You may realize that your promises were unrealistic, or that you should have been doing things a certain way for years!
To move forward after an evaluation, you need to develop action plans. Specific things that you or your company need to focus on and deliver on. You may need deliverables, timelines and consistent check-ins to make sure you are all following the right path. Maybe it's time to finally invest in yourself and your employees by attending a new program or classes. Maybe you can schedule quarterly feedback meetings or surveys. If you do the work throughout the year, the end-of-the-year reflection will be less of a hurdle to overcome. In order for your employees (and you) to continue having faith in you as a leader, you need to follow through. Don't let these lessons fall down the list of priorities as a new quarter gets underway. Make a plan and stick to it, so next year's time of reflection isn't déjà vu.