As the holidays wrap up and companies reopen for the new year, managers and small business owners are putting the finishing touches on their leadership new year’s resolutions and gearing up for a new quarter.
Q1 is a great opportunity for companies, leaders, and employees to get a fresh start by beginning the quarter right. Here are four critical tips to help promote leadership and motivation in the workplace for the new quarter and the new year.
1. Remind the Team of Past Successes
Leadership and motivation in the workplace are all about creating a positive and productive work environment. And while a new year means fewer cumulative successes to celebrate, never pass up the chance to bring up past successes, especially those from the last year or even the last Q1.
Why? Because success tends to breed more success as people associate their jobs with positive feelings of accomplishment. This is especially important when helping your team cope with failure or a recent Q1 setback.
For example, if your team isn’t on track to hit their Q1 targets, get the group together and remind them of a time when they met or even exceeded their quarterly targets. What happened? What did they do to succeed? And how did they overcome setbacks and failures in the past to exceed their targets anyway?
As the leader, you should be asking the questions, but leaving it to your employees to think about the answers. But do try to steer the conversation away from external factors like luck or the economy. Instead, challenge your employees to focus on how they contributed to success to make the most of a good situation.
It also turns out that people learn more from success than they do from failure. While the “fail fast” approach is useful advice, research shows that people are more likely to tune in when they’re feeling good about themselves — in other words, when they’re succeeding — and more likely to ignore situations that make them feel bad — like when they fail. At the same time, failures and other negative situations are more likely to stir up stronger emotions, which is why we remember failure so much more vividly than success.
As a leader, you can help your employees focus on what makes them succeed as individuals and as a team. The result will be happier employees who take away the most valuable lessons from success rather than dwelling on failure.
2. Set and Share Q1 Goals
If you don’t have a map or a plan, how will you know where to go? Setting goals is a lot like planning a big group trip. It’s easier when everyone knows where they’re going and when they should get there.
Workplace leaders spend a lot of time setting annual goals, which are important. But it’s also important to break down goals into quarterly chunks and here’s why:
- Quarterly goals look a lot less intimidating than big annual goals — people are more motivated to aim for smaller, incremental goals that can be achieved in the short term.
- Quarterly goals help leaders and managers track progress more effectively. Therefore, if the team misses hitting their goals, it’s a lot easier to solve the problem in Q1 than in the last weeks of December.
- Set quarterly goals by evenly dividing your annual goals by four. But don’t forget to take into account natural revenue cycles in your business. If you’re busiest in the spring, then it makes sense to set aggressive Q1 goals. But if the holidays are your busiest time, then it might be better to set lighter goals for Q1.
Don’t put all the pressure on yourself. Your employees should help set your company’s Q1 goals too. When you involve your employees in the goal-setting process, not only will they better understand what’s going on, but they’ll feel more included and stay motivated to help the company succeed in its goals.
Once the goals are set, keep a list of the company’s Q1 goals in a public place where all your employees can see them. If appropriate, you can even draw in progress bars so that everyone knows where the team stands on achieving those goals.
3. Understand What Your Employees Want for Q1
At the end of the day, your employees are people — just like you. They have families, they have strengths and weaknesses, they suffer from burnout, and they have their own personal and professional goals they want to achieve. One path to take is to keep reminding employees that the business goals come before anything else. But that approach isn’t likely to get you far. In fact, it’s much more likely that taking a company-first approach will lead to resentment and a decrease in productivity. And you may only be motivating your employees to look for a job.
Instead, consider each employee as an individual. Take the time to get to know each person on your team. What’s their background? Why did they want to work for your company too? What do they hope to achieve in their careers in the next quarter and in the next few years?
Know as much about your employees as you want them to know about your business, your goals, and your own priorities.
Q1 is a great time to revisit what your employees want to achieve for themselves in the next 12 months. Here are a few topics to cover in your Q1 meeting:
- How did your employee feel about the last quarter? The last year? The last Q1?
- What was your employee most proud of achieving in the last year?
- What does professional success look like for them in the next quarter?
- How would the employee describe the company’s Q1 and annual goals in their own words? How does this compare to your own understanding of company goals?
- What obstacles do they anticipate encountering in Q1, both for achieving individual as well as company goals?
- What’s one thing they’d like to see improve in the workplace in the next quarter? This can range anywhere from more control over working hours to having more healthy snacks available.
- What’s one thing the employee would like to personally work on to improve the workplace? This can range from being more mindful of budget guidelines to submitting more reports on time.
When you put in the effort to understand your employees’ motivations and goals, you’ll be surprised how much you can align your business goals with your team’s goals. During the discussion, work together to figure out how business success can translate to personal and professional success for each employee. When people know that their goals are tied to the company’s goals, they’ll stay motivated, work harder, and put in maximum effort to succeed.
4. Learn When to Say “No”
“No” is one of the hardest words. It’s hard to hear and even harder to say, especially when you’re trying to inspire positive leadership and motivation in the workplace.
As a leader, you’re constantly juggling competing interests and priorities from employees, customers, and vendors. And as we all know, it’s impossible to please everyone. But people — especially leaders — can have a hard time saying “no,” even when doing so is the best decision. This occurs partly because we don’t want to threaten our relationships, and partly because we want to avoid the bad feeling we get whenever we reject someone. But the next time you don’t want to say “no,” ask yourself: What’s worse, a little awkwardness and discomfort now, or a lot of resentment and headache down the road?
Believe it or not, employees are more likely to respect a leader who can say “no.” It shows that their leader is sticking to their priorities and setting clear boundaries. That said, there are some key guidelines to follow when deciding to turn down a request:
- Tell your employees why you have to say “no.” They’re part of your team and deserve to understand your rationale. If you can’t give away all the information for personal or confidentiality reasons, be upfront about this. If your employees know you are sharing as much as you can, they are more likely to have trust in your decisions.
- Don’t play favorites and be consistent about your decisions. Employees who are treated unfairly are more likely to create an unproductive and toxic work environment.
- Be open to conversation. If your employees are pushing back on your decision, invite them to calmly explain their perspective and how a “yes” decision would be better for them as well as for the company.
- Once you’ve heard from everyone, be firm with your final decision but stay open if the circumstances change. What was once an obvious “no” could quickly change to a clear “yes” if you receive new information.
- Make sure everyone is sticking to the decision. Part of being on a team is committing to the team’s direction, even if you don’t agree with every choice. This can be hard for employees to do when they feel singled out by your decision. Take the time to sit with them one-on-one and explain why you made that decision.
Start Your Year Right with a Strong Q1
Whether you and your employees want to build on a successful year or move past a challenging one, a new quarter can help turn the page to a better future. But even if Q1 means new goals and changes, some things should always stay the same — like staying true to your company’s mission and values. At Confie, we put people first. Get in touch today to learn more about us, or give us a call at (714) 252 2500.