Ugh. 2020 has been one heck of a year, hasn’t it? I don’t think ANYONE will miss it when it’s gone. So it’s understandable that many business leaders will be happy to just get 2020 behind us. But let me encourage you to make the most of what’s left of the year – and end on a high note. There’s still time to set your business up for success in 2021.
But how do you get there from here? Well, here are some action steps you can take as the year winds down that can really make a difference.
Check In With Customers
When was the last time you reached out and checked in with your customers? No I don’t mean a sales call or a marketing email. I mean truly checked in to see how they are doing, how the pandemic is impacting them, and how you can be supportive. If you haven’t done it in a while, now could be a great time.
Just make sure it doesn’t turn into a sales-y thing. This is a relationship-building exercise, not a revenue-generating exercise. Will it pay off in the end? Yes. You will get additional insights into what your customers are thinking and the challenges they are facing; better preparing you to position your organization to best serve their needs. And they will appreciate your sincere concern. A stronger customer relationship will ALWAYS provide dividends down the road.
Develop a 2021 Plan
This year may feel like it’s been a long, slow slog through some never-ending mud. But you know what? Believe it or not, 2021 is right around the bend. And you should be planning for it. Use this fourth quarter to allow yourself and your team time to look ahead. Revisit your strategic plan – or develop one if you don’t already have one.
It’s a chance for teambuilding and reconnecting your team with the mission to bring them together around a common purpose and set of goals. Think about how it will feel when you have a plan for coming out of gate swinging in 2021.
Improve ONE Key Business Process
Use this time to improve (or implement) a process or policy that’s important to your organization’s future. There are ALWAYS operational improvements we can make within our organizations. Perhaps it’s a process that just doesn’t seem to work well for your customers. A process that is inefficient. Confer with your team and select one (and ONLY one) that you think will have the most impact on your operations next year. Put a task force together and let them attack it. With three months left in the year, you have a natural deadline for getting this done. You can go into 2021 with a key operational improvement in place.
Find a Way To Escape
This might feel a little counterintuitive when you think about “pushing” forward to the end of the year; but it’s important. Allow yourself and your team to give your brains a rest. With all that has gone on in 2020, we can use it more than ever.
Sometimes when we’re in the middle of a storm we lose sight of how stressed it makes us. We just keep our heads down, slog from day to day, put out the fires, and move on to tomorrow. We all need a recharge. Encourage all of your team to find a way to enjoy the cooler weather and some distance from the pressures of your work. Nope it’s not wasteful at all. You will find that (1) your employees appreciate you showing that you care about them, and (2) they will be more engaged and productive when it’s time to execute that 2021 plan. Some time for rest and reflection can help us all prepare to more fully take on the challenges ahead.
Although it may not be possible this year because of the pandemic, you might consider a Fall retreat. Even a single day away as a team can help ease stresses and build camaraderie. If you can’t do it this year, put this idea in your back pocket for next Autumn.
The fourth quarter of 2020 starts next week. That’s right…NEXT week. But I encourage you not to think of it as the last few crummy months of an unbelievably crummy year and just run out the clock. The heck with you, 2020! We’re gearing up for 2021. Let’s commit ourselves to using these next few months productively and set our businesses up to hit the ground running in 2021. You, your team, and your business will truly be better for it.
Let’s make sure your organization has a solid path to the future. Please feel free to reach out and get in touch and let’s explore how I can help you and your business succeed. No pressure. Just an informal discussion to explore some ideas.