Now that we’re in the last quarter of the calendar year, there are some key things managers should be thinking about to close out the year strong and set their team up for a successful new year. Here are three key areas you should start working on now, rather than waiting until the end of the year and then having to scramble.
1. Start thinking about goals for next year. The final quarter of the year is the right time to start talking with your team about what you’ll aim to achieve next year, both individually and as a team. By getting aligned now about where you will (and won’t) put your energy and what concrete markers you’ll use to measure success – as well as the tactics you’ll use to achieve those goals – you’ll be able to start the new year with clear plans and milestones in place.
Action step to take this month: Schedule a meeting with your team to get preliminary ideas about next year’s goals on the table.
2. Start thinking about performance evaluations. Yes, you probably hate doing them. And if you treat them as a perfunctory bureaucratic chore, you have good reason for that. But performance evaluations can actually be a pretty useful management tool if you treat them as an opportunity to step back and have a big-picture conversation with your staff members about how things are going, where they’re excelling, and where they might work on doing things differently. So often in the rush of day to day work, managers give feedback on discrete projects but never address the bigger picture of how someone’s performance is overall. Performance evaluations give you a forum to do that, and you can use them as a powerful tool in retaining top employees, developing people’s skills, and making sure that you’re having needed conversations about what you’d like to see change.
Action step to take this month: Do yourself the favor of starting to jot down notes now for each person on your team – what’s gone well, what could have gone better, what’s impressed you, and what you’d like them to work on in the future. That way you won’t be starting from scratch in December (or whenever you actually sit down to write them).
3. Start thinking about salaries. Assuming that you tie raises to year-end performance evaluations (and you should!), don’t wait until the last minute to think about the salaries of your team. If you realize, for example, that you want to go to bat to get a higher-than-usual raise for a star performer on your team, you may need to start that process now – and might not be able to do it at all if you wait until the very end of the year, when budgets have already been finalized.
Action step to take this month: Spend some time looking over the salaries on your team and thinking about raises. If you’ll need approval from above to give your top performers the type of raise you think is deserved, reach out to get that ball rolling now.
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