Pack Your Lunch Box

As the summer begins to fade, the school year is just about to start. 

This is a great time of year to think like a student; thoughts like “what am I going to learn?”, “what will my teacher/professor be like?”, and “what other goals do I have for the new school year?” 

Although Hallmark, etc. encourage you to make New Years Resolutions on January 1st, this actually may be a better time for you. 

It definitely is for me.

I begin this process by doing a deep dive cleaning of my office which includes reviewing past files that were important then but not now.

I also devise a list of contacts and clients that I made since last September and determine when I should send them a note or call them.

In addition, I make a short list of goals that I will achieve and a secondary list of “nice to do” but not an absolute if I don’t accomplish them.

I also look at my vision board to see if I need to add any pictures and/or remove others.

The last thing I do is look at what I refer to as my Life List. 

These are things that I want to do every year but may need to be reminded of especially when I put them off because life got in the way.

Some of them include travel more, make new friends, take classes, exercise more often, and do less “house stuff”.

For leaders, this is a good time to prepare a SWOT analysis.

If you work on a calendar year basis, this will help you define how you want the last quarter to be. Even if your fiscal year is scheduled differently this exercise is still a smart idea.

The key thing is that you not only engage your executive team in this process but also solicit thoughts from more junior people.

As an example, I had a bank client that was having trouble recruiting tellers.

If they had talked with their staff, including their tellers, they would have learned that Target, Dunkin, etc. were paying more and the employees got discounts and/or free food.

This was a serious threat to my bank client!

When defining the weaknesses most of my clients think about their competitors, which is an important aspect but not the only one. 

They should also consider talent gaps in their organization.

This may require hiring additional employees and/or providing trainings in such areas as communications, conflict management, negotiations, and customer service.

Another thing that many companies do is just promote employees to manager roles but don’t provide them the tools to succeed. This is another area where training/mentoring/coaching can help greatly.

Finally as a leader how do you show appreciation to your employees? 

In elementary school, teachers hand out gold stars.

I did this in one of my college courses that I was teaching and even they were thrilled to get a star.

It is imperative to thank your employees for their hard work but consider taking it a step further.

Food is always a welcome treat but try to find out what they really want as an incentive.

So now is the time to go out and buy your new lunch box and number 2 pencils. 

Engage your employees to encourage them to learn and grow.

Do give them time on the playground so they can clear their heads and get their exercise as well.

Have an awesome school year!