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As we all think about closing out 2023, we are asking ourselves what else we need to do to finish strong. And yet, none of us will get it all done. We are all looking for leadership strategies that will help us compete more effectively during rapid change.

Many of us are trying to figure out how to recognize and celebrate the people who help us during the year. We are planning parties and delivering bonus checks. Unfortunately, some companies are greeting their employees with layoff announcements. Putting aside big bonuses and lavish celebrations, what can we do that will help us finish strong?

I begin with the premise that your company has a reasonably well-functioning culture. And that you know what you do best and are not seeking to overhaul the entire business. In even the best of companies it’s hard to find time for the little things that need to be done to keep improving.

And it seems like we spend a lot of time planning holiday celebrations that some, maybe many, would prefer to skip. Maybe we should spend more time doing things that would really help employees succeed?

1. Plan for 2024 by reviewing and revising roles and responsibilities to align with strategy.

Year end is a busy time to take on an assessment of your business strategy, but January or February (after year-end financial data are known) is often a time when companies do that. The recommendation to review and revise your roles and responsibilities document assumes that you have a business strategy that you are comfortable with. You can certainly push this out and do it after your strategy has been reviewed.

Roles and responsibilities have a way of morphing over time. Sometimes, we need to step back to ensure that what we have still aligns with our business strategy and makes sense, given our current environment. And if you don’t have clearly defined roles and responsibilities maybe you need to sharpen your pencil and put together a document that outlines what you want.

Leadership strategies ideally come from the top, but project and team leaders can review how roles and responsibilities are defined on their existing projects and work endeavors.

Roles and responsibilities morph over time. Sometimes, we need to step back to ensure that what we have still aligns with our business strategy. #leadership #teams #goals #2024 #smartprojex Share on X

2. Define the goals for your teams that will provide the highest value for the company.

This suggestion is also targeted at top leaders. Periodically, we need to step back and ensure that our people are working on the activities that will generate the highest value for the company.

Have you gotten off track? This can easily happen in a world where there is a new “shiny object” introduced every day. Are you sure your teams are working on the right activities? Never assume. Communicate with them. Even sound leadership strategies fail when you don’t communicate with your people.

Never assume. Communicate with your team. Even sound leadership strategies fail when you don't communicate with your people. #communication #leadership #projectmanagement #smartprojex Share on X

3. Consider the impact of your work on the sustainable balance between personal and professional objectives.

As you consider your needs, ask yourself if you are expecting too much work from your people. Elon Musk may get away with expecting his teams to work long hours, but you probably can’t and shouldn’t. It’s not healthy. And it’s not good for society to be putting that kind of pressure on working moms and dads.

In 2019, Bernstein Research stock analyst Toni Sacconaghi undertook a review of Tesla’s turnover.  He concluded that it was higher than comparable firms. Do we underestimate the cost of high employee turnover? Is it even more problematic when executives leave? I wrote about this in a blog on questions that business leaders should consider as they set policies that impact employee retention.

I predict that we will realize the toll that work is taking on our brains and on our communities. But will we wake up before the damage is irreversible?

4. Give clear guidance on how your teams are to utilize technology to do and improve their work.

Thanks to AI, our leadership strategies now need to include a whole lot more work in the technology world. The number of new software systems and technology tools that are announced each year continues to grow. While I haven’t looked up exact numbers, I would guess that 2023 was a banner year. How can anyone keep up?

If your company is like most, you have employees who are content to do things the same way they have for years. And you have some who are itching to try out new ways. Neither extreme is ideal.

The challenge is to give your people clear guidance on how you want them to utilize technology in their work. If you use Trello or some other card like system, are attractive boards important? Do you want your teams uploading working links of supporting information that teams may or may not ever use? Documentation may be the bane of existence for all of us.

It’s important to remember that technology can be a huge time waster too. Having experts in your organization that can help those who are less experienced may help. Not everyone needs to use every technology at the same level.

Perhaps you can ask one of your teams to spend a half-day a week exploring new tools that might solve problems that you are having. Perhaps you engage in more technology training that is optional, and targeted at people who seem to struggle more. Remember that your goal is to find technology solutions that make your life and work easier, not more challenging.

I hope these few leadership strategies give you some ideas on ways that you can improve.

Happy holidays, and may your light shine in 2024.