Here’s How to Finish Your Year Strong

December 13, 2017 by Kevin CrumpKevin Crump

With the holiday season coming into view, it’s tempting to take your foot off the gas and cruise towards the year’s end. Don’t. These last few weeks are when you should be making the most of those lessons learned and preparing for the year ahead. So, rather than just watching the clock wind down by going Secret Santa shopping and taking bets on who’s going to photocopy which part of their anatomy at the office party, finish your year strong!

Here are your practical tips to make the most of what’s left of the year and end on a high note.

Write down your biggest success and shortlist the actions you’re going to take to replicate that success next year.

Do the same for your biggest failure, and write down what you’ve learned. Shortlist the preventive actions you’ll take to guard against a repeat. You might be disinclined to dwell on the year’s lowlights when you’re feeling all festive and frothy, but bite the bullet and do it or you’ll miss out on the wisdom to be gained.

Arrange a year-end wrap-up with your manager to get their feedback on how you’ve performed and to establish objectives for next year. Sure you may have covered some of this ground already; nevertheless, go for a final sit-down to make sure you’re on the same page and that your priorities are aligned going forward.

As we all know, having strong professional relationships is key to business success. Some connections come naturally and easily; other don’t and take more work. Year’s end is an opportune time for some relationship housekeeping. Here’s an exercise to try:

If you manage a team, ask them for their highlights and lowlights of the year and get their ideas on what they’d like to see new or different next year. Do this as a group exercise rather than a succession of one-on-ones. You could take a long pre-holiday team lunch—or find somewhere away from the office where people can engage in more frank, free-flowing dialogue. This is a great way to set your team up for a more positive work environment in the New Year—and a productive one, too.

Ask your team what they’d like from you in the New Year, and what you can do better or differently to improve their work life and performance. To encourage team members to feel comfortable giving you honest feedback, try asking them to jot down a few bullet points anonymously and drop them in a suggestions box you provide. And then share the results. The team will appreciate your transparency and the commitment to change—and they might even help/nag to keep you honest!

Say thanks! Maybe you’ve done a grand job of recognizing hard work and good performance through the year, but now’s a great time to reiterate that and show your appreciation.

If you’re a team member, get together with the others on the team and review the good and the not-so-good of the year. Remain focused on how collaboration can be improved to deliver team success in the New Year. Agree and record at least one takeaway action per team member. Distill your broader good intentions down to specifics that team members can take ownership of and deliver against.

Make a concerted effort to whittle down your to-do list. The shorter that list is, the more you’ll enjoy your holiday. Clear the decks of any I-really-must-get-round-to-doing-this.  Delegate whatever you can. If there are tasks on your list that have been there a long time, consider whether they’re worth doing at all and if not, donate them to the trash bin. After all, if they were really going to add value, you’d have already done them, right?

Any gnarly tasks or difficult conversations you’ve been putting off? Get them done. You’ll feel so much better starting the New Year without these waiting for you. Plus you may find a difficult conversation goes smoother than feared with most of us being in good spirits ahead of a break!

Tidy desk = tidy mind. Unless you really are inspired by those ever-growing piles, get rid of them. Clear out that desk draw; clear off your desk top. The same goes for your inbox, other electronic documentation, computer files, etc. Do whatever you can do to start the New Year journey with as little baggage as possible.

Record those lessons learned, good ideas, objectives etc. Don’t just try and “remember to remembe...

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