It may be an understatement to say that 2020 has been difficult for company leaders and their teams. Companies have shifted to remote work where possible, and in-office teams have had to make major changes to keep everyone safe. On top of that, families have had the extra strain of virtual schooling. Add into that the mental and emotional work of living through a pandemic, and we’ve all felt 2020’s pinch. All of this change and upheaval makes it more important than ever for leaders to take some time to reflect on the past year and plan how they will successfully move forward in 2021.
Reflect on 2020
It’s difficult to clearly see your business situation when you’re in the thick of the day-to-day priorities. In order to better understand how your business has changed over the past year, take some time to reflect on how far you’ve come.
Document the lessons from 2020
A lot happened this year, even before the pandemic took hold in March. Remember when we were all focused on the wildfires in Australia? That feels like a couple of years ago, but that happened in January. It may be hard to square all the events of 2020 with the warped sense of time we’ve become accustomed to, but take some time to think about the major events that happened for your company throughout the year. Write these down. Then follow that up with any lessons you might have learned in the process.
Consider these questions:
- Was your team more productive working from home?
- How did you approach lay-offs or adding new team members?
- What technology changes did you make to improve your success?
- What processes and systems improved during this time?
- What processes and systems aren’t working?
- How did your marketing and product development change?
- What did you learn about your customers?
- How did you prioritize your time differently this past year?
- What could you have done differently in 2020?When you take a moment to answer these questions and give yourself truthful responses, you may find opportunities for growth and plenty of wins to celebrate with your team.
Show your gratitude
Even if you’re a solo-preneur, you didn’t survive the year alone. Consider all of the people who helped you get through this year, and take some time to thank each one of them. You can do this through hand written notes, a personal email, or even a short video sent via slack or email.
When showing your gratitude to employees and contractors, start by celebrating the accomplishments that stand out from this year. You may need to crowdsource more information from your management team, but try to find a specific anecdote for each employee. Follow that up by acknowledging how hard it is to work in these times of uncertainty, and thank them for their dedication. Finally, remind your employees that their mental and physical health are important to you and the company. Urge them to take time off to enter 2021 refreshed and ready to continue their amazing work.
This exercise may feel daunting, but these personal touches will remind you of the outstanding individuals that work for you.
Move confidently into 2021
Once you’ve recapped the year for yourself and your employees, you can begin to look toward the new year. In addition to planning your normal business planning and growth strategy, take some time to consider how you can invest in your communities and support them through the ongoing recovery.
Invest in your communities
Start investing in your most local community: your company culture. Consider ways that you plan to reinforce your company culture in the coming year, even if you can’t gather in the office or off-site for retreats yet. Add offers of support to your internal communication cadence: remind employees of resources and ask them if the company is adequately offering support that they need.
Then start planning regularly-scheduled virtual get-togethers. At TechnologyAdvice we continue to have our monthly all-hands Stakeholders meeting, but we’ve added monthly virtual team events to bring us together and make connections. Since moving to remote work in March, we’ve done a cheese tasting class, a paint along session, an online scavenger hunt, and we even held a team event with a virtual magician to continue to connect as a group and share experiences.
Reach out in your neighborhoods
While you may not be able to take direct action against the pandemic, you can support those in your communities that need help right now. Consider how you can support your local community and your industry. The funds that you would normally put toward office conveniences and in-person meetings can be redistributed. Start by testing out some of these options:
- Make a donation or purchase that supports small businesses that your team might typically frequent when in the office.
- Reach out to industry organizations, networks, and online communities to offer assistance. Some of these groups may need non-monetary gifts like time and supplies.
- Contact local colleges and universities to match with students who graduated during the pandemic. You can mentor, help them network, or offer paid internships to help them get on their feet.
Remember that your employees live in communities, too. Giving should be a shared experience, so you should make it easy for your employees to participate. Provide employees with a charitable matching program if you don’t already, or invite them to volunteer time with the industry and local groups.
Plan for continued COVID-19 support
Although vaccines are being shipped around the nation, the pandemic isn’t over yet. We still have several months before the majority of people receive vaccines, and maybe longer until we all feel safe to return to pre-pandemic habits. But there are ways that you can continue to support your team.
First, update your plan to move back into the office, if at all.
- How will you integrate remote work into your benefits and perks systems?
- How might you continue your current cleaning and sanitizing procedures?
- Where can employees find updates to health benefits?
- Will you require vaccinations before returning to the office?
Then renew your communication plans around health insurance coverage for the vaccine, time off policies for infections according to new government regulations, and policies surrounding childcare support. Whether you’re able to provide extra support or not, open communication and transparency about your existing policies helps individuals plan for their own care and that of their families.
Revive through planning
Every year you should take time to hit the refresh button, but especially now. Take some time to plan out your goals for the year, and don’t be afraid to set your sights high! When you look back on 2020, you probably accomplished more than you ever thought you could, despite the circumstances. Congratulate yourself for making it through 2020, and plan for good things in 2021. You’ve got this!