As individuals, the New Year brings us a new set of challenges and aspirations – New Year’s resolutions, as we often call them. Whether we want to eat right, exercise more, quit smoking, work harder or anything else, every subsequent year presents us with a new opportunity to better ourselves.
Of course, if experience has taught us anything, it’s that setting these expectations and following through with them are two completely different things. If using the next year to better ourselves yields mixed results, there’s an entirely new area to try where not only are the stakes higher, but the effects are much deeper.
As HR professionals, we face numerous, far-reaching challenges that affect the professional lives of those around us, and the businesses we serve. Just like our personal lives, organizations have room for improvement. It’s up to us to make sure this happens.
That being said, let’s take a look at a few ways that HR can kickstart the New Year into 2018 and beyond.
No person is an island, and a business definitely isn’t one either. Teamwork is a critical component for organizational success. Without cohesion and efficiency, achieving success is virtually impossible. That being said, there are several key measures HR can take to facilitate improved teamwork.
Set Some Rules
Rules are important to help guide a team and keep things in the right direction. More importantly, however, each member needs to agree on the rules. Laying out predetermined expectations may be easy, but it could backfire if the people working under these guidelines don’t agree with them. By allowing teams to determine their own codes of conduct for tackling projects, members will feel more connected and in control. The end result is higher morale and better productivity.
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many teams try to take on work without a clear objective in mind. Obviously, the goal is to finish the project by a certain date, but that’s simply too broad.
Instead of simply setting sights on the end game, instruct team members to separate the greater task into small, measurable steps. This will make the work seem less daunting. It also allows errors and problems to be self-contained into smaller segments, making them easier to address.
No two team members are alike. Each person brings their own set of talents, ideas and values. While one individual may excel in a specific area, another could lack that skill. Encouraging people to delegate tasks based on qualification, experience and abilities means that the entire team will make full use of its resources.
Enhance Your Feedback Practices
Most organizations conduct regular evaluations with their employees. Unfortunately, these are often sporadic, sometimes only happening once or twice a year. This is a serious missed opportunity.
First of all, occasional evaluations don’t help identify key problems until they’ve done significant damage. For instance, imagine changing a policy in January and not giving employees a chance to voice their concerns until December. That’s an entire year of potentially damaged morale, lowered productivity, increased absenteeism – anything, really.
Second, occasional meetings won’t make staff connected or engaged. Individuals need to feel valued. Pulling them aside at random intervals to praise their work or provide constructive criticism is a great way to form lasting bonds between management and workers.
Regular surveys are also a great way to capture the overall “vibe” among employees to identify and address problem areas.
If your organization doesn’t do these things on a regular basis, the New Year is an excellent time to start.
Offer New Training
Employees can also benefit from learning opportunities. An opportunity to increase their skillsets is the perfect gift for those who want something new. After all, variety is an excellent way to maintain engagement and retention.
If you’re expecting skill shortages in certain departments, offer tenured employees a chance to cross-train. Not only will this help alleviate additional workloads, but it allows positions to be filled without long – and expensive – recruitment processes.
Of course, training doesn’t have to cater to a specific job-related skill. General abilities can also benefit from some enhancement. For instance, offer leadership courses to help employees become more self-sufficient or offer things like workplace wellness and first aid training to improve overall health and safety.
Follow Other Companies
Organizations are quite public with their practices. Company blog posts and articles are both excellent resources to look at for inspiration. Just because you’re competing with another business doesn’t mean you can’t turn to them for some great ideas.
Also, keep an eye on social media. Facebook and Twitter are full of quick snippets of valuable information. Best of all, these are typically in real-time, providing the latest information affecting these companies and, very likely, the industry as a whole.
Once the New Year comes around, try to set aside a few minutes of each day to browse these resources. You’d be surprised what might come up.
The New Year isn’t just a time for reflection and personal change; it’s an opportunity to make a big difference in the lives of your department and the employees it serves. Make an effort to look back on the pervious year and apply what you’ve learned for the future. There’s nowhere to go but up.