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What Really Mattered in 2018?

Tuesday, Jan. 1st 2019

Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about what my team and I accomplished in 2018. We’ve had a very busy year, full of meetings, projects, designing and implementing processes, and dealing with many issues. We’ve also had lots of changes on the team.

In my quiet moments, I’ve realized that while my team and I were indeed very busy, not everything I did—or the team did—was of equal impact. Some things I did really mattered. But many things I spent time on did not end up mattering very much.

This introspection has led me to two questions:

1.    How do I know if what I did over the course of the last year really mattered?

2.    What can I do differently in 2019 to make sure that more of my effort is focused on things that matter?

To answer the first question about our efforts over the last year, it seems to me that we can consider the following factors:

·     What metrics are available that can show progress (or lack of it) over the course of the year?

·     What feedback have we received from key customers or stakeholders on what we have delivered for them over the last year?

·     How have we impacted the future—through clarifying or executing strategy, building processes, or making improvements?

·     What new capabilities have we developed as a team?

A few weeks ago, my team and I got together and did an extended review of these questions. It was an enlightening discussion for all of us and well worth the time. Several team members told me that it was both refreshing and empowering to pause and reflect on the past year in the way that we did. I highly recommend it!

The second question, related to what we can do differently for 2019, can be addressed by the same factors noted above. For example:

·     We can identify new or better metrics that can be used that give us more insight on our progress over the year.

·     We can expend extra effort (maybe listen a bit more!) to make sure that we more clearly understand what our customers and stakeholders find to be our most important deliverables. Based on what we learn, we can more tightly focus our projects and priorities on those things that matter most to them. A particularly insightful activity is to work with your team to prioritize which stakeholders, and which stakeholder needs, you will address. The discussion on potential trade-offs, and what you must say “no” to, is particularly powerful!

·     We can take some quiet, focused time, individually and as a team, to think through what parts of our team strategy are not quite clear yet or where we need more alignment with key stakeholders. We can also identify what processes or improvements we can make as our team that can have the biggest positive long-term impact to our strategy.

·     We can develop a detailed plan to build specific capabilities on the team that allow us to be better able to deliver on our strategies.

The key to assessing how we really contributed in 2018, and to how we can contribute more in 2019, is investing in focused time to reflect, think, and plan.  I’ve found that you have to take a “time out” from day to day work to do this strategic work. It is very, very easy to skip this process, as we are all very busy on what is immediately in front of us and pressing. But it is absolutely worth the investment of our time and energy.

Have a happy and prosperous 2019!

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Leading People Partners

Leading People Partners, LLC
Email: todd@leadingpeoplepartners.com