Problems, at scale.
Since early 2020, leaders and teams have been in a state of turmoil and near-constant change. Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in a need to “triage” more than usual.
- Goal-setting moves out another quarter.
- Hiring freezes lead to mandatory overtime just to keep the lights on and doors open.
- Foundational routines, like weekly inventory audits and team rounding, have languished as burn out and constant reprioritization become the norm.
We have now “normalized abnormal” for almost three years. Yikes.
New year, fresh start.
As I reflect on this sobering reality, and look toward a brighter 2023, the phrase, “back-to-basics” keeps popping into my head.
How might we use this official change of the calendar as an opportunity to better understand our new realities and deliberately adapt our processes accordingly?
Below are three aspects of your business to investigate, and considerations on how to get started.
1. Core Operations
When was the last time you and your teams were able to dedicate time to formally observe, reflect and improve your day-to-day processes? More than six months? More than a year?
The new year is a great time to revisit what is actually happening and see if it matches what you believe is happening. This back-to-basics toolkit is a helpful place to start.
Below is additional context for each:
- Waste (for Office Processes) – These eight wastes represent common pain points in our work. Any time you experience one of these in your process, that is an opportunity to pause and ask, “How might we remove this annoyance?” or “How might we prevent this from happening?”
- The Four Rules – This framework, adapted from Spear and Bowen’s Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Productions System, is like a cheat sheet for how to fix your processes, or design them “right” the first time.
- Fishbone (or Ishikawa Diagram) – Once you’ve identified a problem in your process, this classic quality improvement tool is a helpful way to begin to understand and visualize potential cause-and-effect.
2. Self-Care Routines
As I think back on my client work these past few years, it is not just work processes that could use a tune-up. It is also our attitudes.
People are beyond tired. And for many of us, leaders and team members alike, remote work has further blurred the lines between our work life and our personal life.
- We wake up, throw on a nice shirt over our pajama pants and spend all day behind a screen.
- Instead of a quick walk to grab coffee with our coworker, we now load the dishwasher.
- Half our team switched jobs or retired and the other half we’ve never even met in person.
- We turn our camera off during staff meetings and gossip with our friends via chat.
This sustained burn out and blurred lines have contributed to an increase in less-than-helpful behaviors between colleagues. It is as though all this time in our pajamas has led to many of us squabbling like siblings instead of debating as peers. We’re not consistently able to show up as our best selves. We don’t feel great about it, but we don’t know how to fix it.
We need to remember who we are when we are at our best, and set ourselves up to be that version of ourselves more consistently.
Everyone deserves a respectful and engaging work environment. How we show up and treat one another makes a difference. Vibe matters and the leader sets the standard.
Now is the time to revisit those healthy routines that enable you to be your best self, both at home and at work. And that includes acknowledging that what rejuvenated us in 2019 may not work anymore.
For example, pre-pandemic I went out for Happy Hour or took group exercise classes most days after work, often not getting home until after 7:30pm. Not anymore! I am now that person who dims the lights and is in her pjs as soon as possible every night, unwinding with low-stress tv or a book. And that’s not a bad thing! This is what makes me happy and fills my bucket these days. It may not be this way forever, but for right now these routines give me the downtime I need to stay focused, positive and supportive toward others.
What does it look and sound like when you are at your best? How do you like to feel after work? What routines help you maintain your positive vibe in the face of work stress?
3. Team Dynamics
Are any of these statements true for your team in the past few months?
- Onboarded a new team member.
- Team member left.
- Workload changed significantly.
- New leader.
- Customer expectations changed.
- Things feel off.
If you answered “yes” to even one of the above items, now is the time to revisit teambuilding.
As a foundational aspect of business performance, teambuilding is not a “one and done” activity – it requires ongoing maintenance.
Critical areas of your team dynamics to revisit might include:
- Clarity around roles and responsibilities.
- Team norms during meetings.
- Visibility over deadlines and status.
- Effective communication during conflict.
- How to give and receive feedback.
It doesn’t need to be overwhelming! You and your team can tackle these items one-at-a-time, over the course of several months. And if you need additional help or framework considerations, as an Authorized Partner, we recommend The Five Behaviors®
It’s the little things that are vital. Little things make big things happen. – John Wooden
Whether you start by analyzing the waste in your process, or just making sure you log off in time to help with dinner every night, every step forward gets you closer to a better 2023.
Remember – you’re not alone! If you could use a thinking partner, cheerleader or good ol’ fashioned advice on what to try next, we’re here to help.
Happy New Year!