While most of us tend to focus on personal improvement when a new year comes around, it also happens to be a great time to reflect on your workplace, and identify ways to improve productivity within a team, department or organization.
But it doesn’t have to be in the form of resolutions, per se. In fact, the mere mention of the r-word has been known to induce stress and unnecessary anxiety for even the best-intentioned of colleagues (find out more about a different approach that might work better here).
Whether you call them goals, objectives or plans, gathering your team together and taking the time to review, refocus and rejuvenate can do wonders. And by making the process social and fun (with a fresh approach), your team will be ready to greet the new year with gusto!
Start by gathering your team together in a casual, relaxed environment. Make it a working lunch or bring snacks. Use your imagination to make it a fun and supportive environment. As a group, identify the areas on which you want to focus. Is it to develop and align teams? Or perhaps you want to create common goals, improve work-life quality or workplace productivity. It doesn’t have to be a drastic initiative or grand plan in order to be effective. The important thing is to provide an opportunity in a relaxed and inspiring environment to get your colleagues on board for positive change.
If you’re not sure where to begin, here are some ideas for team goals or objectives for the new year:
Individuals and teams deserve a pat on the back when positive things happen. One way to do this is to create a physical space for acknowledgement. This could be a bulletin board or display case in a common area, where letters of appreciation, notes of encouragement or positive customer feedback can be shared. Encourage colleagues to express appreciation or acknowledgement via notes, cards or posters in a way that everyone can enjoy them. Recognize team successes or efforts, and show gratitude! It doesn’t have to be work-only – make it fun, colorful and inviting. Allow individuals to express their creative and exciting selves, and showcase their personal achievements, too.
Ask for input.
Once your team is together, solicit ideas on potential goals or ways to improve performance and enhance productivity. Engage the group and share thoughts on how to approach the improvement process. Discuss suggestions, and take a friendly vote in order to identify the top choices. Conducting a meaningful dialogue – and inviting full participation as you choose your goals or areas of focus – will foster team cooperation from the beginning, as it gives individuals a chance to buy-in. This is important for future engagement and commitment.
Research continues to support how mindfulness improves the quality of life, and enhances the workplace. Why not schedule regular yoga, meditation, or exercise opportunities during or after work, and particularly during stressful work cycles? Or simply pause. I wrote an article about pausing here. Through such group experiences, not only can they lower stress levels and improve productivity, they can improve team relationships and support self-care in a way that ultimately strengthens your company performance.
Improve your workspace.
Has your work area become cluttered or disorganized throughout the year? Or is it just plain uninspiring? The quality of your work environment greatly impacts state-of-mind, not to mention health, overall outlook and levels of productivity. Having a positive workflow, sensible layout, and inspirational surroundings can make a huge different in employee happiness and morale. Bring in an expert to help, if you need it. Or ask for assistance from team members who excel in this area. Find ways to refresh your work area and create the kind of place that inspires, motivates and supports workers.
Most people shift gears after a new year and focus on personal health goals. Why not make them a group effort? Organize an in-house contest or support system for reaching weight-loss goals. Make it light-hearted, goofy and enjoyable. Award prizes, honor significant milestones, and share nutrition information and progress. You can also do this for physical fitness goals – establish teams and track progress together. Having fitness buddies keeps you accountable, and friendly competitions help foster strong relationships while encouraging a healthy environment. When people feel good, they are more likely to engage, produce and thrive.
Make work easier.
Stressful commutes can negatively effect productivity. So can exhaustion and mundane routines. Are there potential ways to make it better? Explore carpool opportunities and see if there are ways to alleviate some of the stress by adjusting work times or introducing more flexible schedules. Maybe it’s a matter of allowing more work-from-home days, or encouraging offsite meetings in more convenient areas. Identify other ways that might reduce stress, allowing colleagues to spend more time focusing on projects and tasks at hand.
Encourage play time.
Creativity and inspiration is often best when focusing on other things. In other words, if everyone is just sitting around at a desk all day, chances are there isn’t much innovation going on. Encourage walking meetings, out in the fresh air. Provide games in the lunch room, or light moments of play to get blood pumping and ideas flowing. Identify a common area where people can gather to meet, talk or vent while bouncing a ball, stretching or engaging in some light-hearted banter. A change of scenery does wonders for creativity.
Ask for feedback.
When team members get frustrated, it’s important for them to have a safe avenue in which to share them without fear of retribution. Sure, having a positive attitude is important, but being able to express work needs and offer suggestions for improvement helps individuals feel heard and valuable. What type of solution can you provide? What types of changes would help encourage feedback and create an atmosphere of honesty and respect? Explore this with your team and find ways to address conflict or problems in a productive and cooperative manner.
What are your new year workplace goals?
Now that I’ve shared some simple ideas for workplace goals, I’d like to hear about yours. What things have you done to revitalize your workplace or strengthen teams? Has your team, department or company set specific goals or identified ways to improve productivity? Please share your thoughts or experiences below.