Labor Day traditionally marks the end of summer in the United States. Family vacations, picnics, and days at the beach give way to kids returning to school, cheering on your favorite football teams, and settling into the rhythms of the fall season. Depending on what business you’re in, the summer may have been a slow time that allowed you to disengage from work for a while and recharge your batteries. For some organizations, summer is the busiest time of year and you may be eagerly awaiting the fall season so that you can catch your breath. Regardless, heading into the autumn months is an excellent time for leaders to focus on three key priorities that will help them finish the year strong.
1. Review your team’s progress YTD and clarify your focus for the remainder of the year. When is the last time you looked at your strategic plan for the year? (You do have a plan, don’t you?!) If you haven’t reviewed it lately, now is a good time. With four months left in the year you still have time to make an impact. Over the summer it’s easy to lose track of your key priorities. The exuberance of the new year drifted into the promise of spring which eventually evolved into the dog days of summer and you find that you haven’t accomplished quite as much by this time as you had hoped for. Use this time to reevaluate your plan for the remainder of the year and put your energies and resources into the goals that will help improve your business today as well as set you up for a strong start for the next year.
2. Bring your team together to reconnect, reenergize, and refocus. Over the summer it’s common for your team to start to feel disconnected. People are in and out for vacations, team members are backing each other up, and it can seem like the “normal” routine of business gets thrown out the window. This is a great time of year to focus on team building. People have returned from vacation and are ready to settle into the familiar routine that the fall season brings, so take advantage of the change in seasons to hold a team lunch, have a potluck or cookout, and allow people to reconnect. It’s also the perfect opportunity for you to share with your team the top priorities for the rest of the year so that everyone is singing from the same song sheet.
3. Get back in the routine. Routines can provide security, stability, and efficiency…if they’re good ones! Some routines are just old habits that are a waste of time, so those are the ones you want to ditch and you want to focus on the ones that will help you achieve your goals for the year. Routines help your team know what to expect from you as a leader and what you expect of them as team members. Use this time to evaluate the routines you have in your organization and intentionally leverage the good ones to get your team focused on the key goals and priorities.
Each season of the year has its own vibe and autumn is one where we turn our attention to getting back to work and finishing the year strong. Set yourself up for a successful end of the year by reviewing your team’s progress, clarifying your goals for Q4, nurturing team relationships, and providing the structure and routine your team needs to finish strong.