Friday, 15 January 2016

How to Bypass the January Productivity Dip

I attended a meeting this week where everyone looked beat. People seemed worn out and I could almost feel the weight of the accountabilities on their shoulders. It was like they were barely holding on until holidays arrived, only seven days back from their vacations.

The first week of the year is usually a good one. People exchange new year wishes, holiday memories and resolutions for the year ahead. Reality sets in during week two: the budgeting process is in full swing, commitments made before the holidays need to be met and new challenges hijack calendars. Sound familiar?

It's easy for individuals and teams to become discouraged, pessimistic and exhausted before the year's heavy work begins. Just the thought of being off-balance or overwhelmed is enough to sap energy and melt convictions. If left unmanaged, productivity dips, people fall behind, and a negative pattern takes hold that is difficult to reverse. 

This negative scenario can be avoided by counteracting the conditions that create it. Here are some actions you can take to keep your team productive and charged.
  • Review the organization's purpose or mission  it reminds people of the organization's reason for being and why the struggle is worth it
  • Confirm individual and team priorities  build in time to discuss issues and answer questions so everyone is on the same page
  • Commit to monthly team resources reviews  this will align resources with estimated value gained, ensuring that high priority projects are well supported and low ones are not 
  • Ask people about lessons learned from last year  this will establish a common base of knowledge and expertise that will build confidence
  • Make it easy to demonstrate progress made  use multiple ways to share people's accomplishments  white boards, newsletters, email blasts, meeting agenda topics, etc.  so they feel their efforts matter and are making positive impacts
  • Give people a token acknowledgement  a small gift goes a long way  a manager once said, "Never underestimate the power of chotchkies." and he was right; it's the thought that counts and builds resolve.
  • Ask your team members what you can do to make them successful  personal investment in your team members will be appreciated and engender connection and partnership
Since people are motivated (and demotivated) by different things, employing multiple approaches will increase your odds of bypassing the January productivity dip.

Changing the environment in which your team operates will bypass a natural productivity dip in January. It will do the same for you too.


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