Ah… December—the most wonderful time of the year (or so the song says).
For many of us, business slows down a bit in December. We can take a breath and begin to plan for the new year and the upsurge in work it’ll bring. It’s a great time to clean up that pile of paper on our desks and purge all those unnecessary files on our desktops. It’s also a great time to think, strategize, and reflect on 2019.
Reflection is something we rarely have time to do in our business environments of task focus, process and function demands, and do-more-with-less. However, it’s hugely important that leaders and managers move reflection to the top of their December to-do lists.
Reflection gives your brain the time to consider all that was done over the year and untangle any chaotic activities that occurred. What decisions were made, how were they carried out, and how well did they work? What was learned in the process and what should be changed going forward?
One important thing to reflect on, this December, is how well you’ve been communicating with your team. Effective communication is integral to the team’s, and the company’s, success. It enhances the relationship you have with your team members and, by extension, the relationships you all have with customers. It also helps with the reduction of errors. Gartner has found that 70% of business mistakes occur because of poor communication. Imagine the impact on your company’s bottom line, and your stress level, if you could cut that in half! And all you have to do is communicate, regularly and consistently, with your team members.
Good communication boosts morale, leads to better team-building and collaboration and, in the process, increases innovation and creativity. All of this will, of course, lead to better productivity and efficiency.
If setting aside hours of time for reflection seems unmanageable (or like something you might hate to do), then start small with setting aside a few minutes every day. Even 10 to 15 minutes daily will result in big payoffs.
Once you’ve decided on how much time you want to devote to reflection, set that time aside in your calendar and commit to it.
Remember, reflection doesn’t have to happen in your office behind closed doors. While it’s important that this is a focused activity, you can reflect wherever you do your best thinking. For me, it’s on a walk with my dogs or in a coffee shop. There’s something about the sights, sounds, and scents in the background that stimulate my thoughts. Whatever works for you, use that to inspire some great thinking.
Don’t know how to start? Try creating a list of important questions. Here are some possibilities to get you started:
What topics have you been avoiding?
Who are you avoiding talking to?
What have you learned about your team members this year? Who do you wish you knew better?
How have your communication habits helped (or hindered) your team’s progress?
How have you stepped up and been more effective in meetings?
What have you done to improve your presentation skills?
Is improving how you communicate on your professional development to-do list? If not, should it be?
Despite the challenges to reflection, the impact is overwhelmingly positive. So, too, is the impact of better communication with your team members and customers. Build in that time for reflection, make it a practice, and use what you learn to channel great thoughts for the new year.
Laura Sukorokoff is the Founder of C-Change Learning and Development and the author of It’s Not Them, It’s You: Why employees “break up” with their managers and what to do about it (due to be released Q1 2020). She makes it her mission to guide managers in their efforts to create people-centered workplaces. Reach out to Laura for help with developing your managerial skill set, and for soft-skills training for your team. Learn more at www.cchangelearning.com.