By Mark Samuel
In this new year, we know better than to assume predictability. The year 2020 not only made us pivot in terms of our daily practices and direction, but also in terms of our ability to problem-solve in the moment and adjust along the way. You might not have known it before, but these are skills that all organizations (and individuals!) need all the time, regardless of whether things seem to be rocky or smooth sailing.
Below are four tips—a roadmap, if you will—for how to navigate 2021 gracefully and with purpose.
1. Get clear on your Breakthrough Picture of Success – Your Picture of Success is not a vision statement or a marketing tool. It’s a detailed depiction of your Breakthrough State and the do-differently behaviors you need to adopt to achieve that state. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Where are we going?
- What will it look like when we get there?
- Be specific about what you and your team will be doing differently to achieve your desired outcomes.
2. Get clear on your priorities – Priorities can often be a point of frustration and overwhelm for leaders and employees at all levels within an organization. Too many priorities, unclear priorities, and lack of follow-through on priorities are some of the biggest complaints I hear from clients.
It’s helpful to understand the three types of priorities:
Routine Priorities are usually not thought of as priorities because they are derived from your basic job description. But the truth is, they are the highest priority! If there are breakdowns preventing those routine responsibilities from being accomplished, you have to fix those first.
Continuous Improvement Priorities are those projects critical for improving, streamlining or fixing broken routine functioning. Continuous-improvement priorities are imperative; if you’re not improving what you do daily, you won’t survive very long as a business. The challenge is that these projects are often lacking coordination across the organization in terms of human resources, financial resources or timing of implementation. Usually, this stems from silo thinking and behavior, where conflicting messages causes frustration and misunderstanding.
Breakthrough Priorities are entirely different than routine and continuous improvement priorities. While continuous improvement priorities improve your current state, Breakthrough Priorities are transformative—game-changers for your business and culture. B STATE priorities represent those projects that will pivot your business and culture at the same time to address external drivers such as competition, new markets, changing customer demands, new regulatory standards or a turbulent economy.
3. Tight Execution & Follow Through – A Breakthrough Picture of Success will get you nowhere if you and your team doesn’t follow through with agreed upon collective habits of execution. As a team, you must determine the do-differently habits that will get you to where you want to go based on your desired outcomes rather than style, personal preference, or theoretical ideas about best practices.
4. Turn Communication into Connection – Simply communicating with one another and sharing information is no longer enough. Make the effort to connect with your team, your direct reports, and your customers so that you can learn each other’s needs, problem-solve together, and create a more sustainable work environment going forward. We can no longer separate our work life and home life in the way we once could. This is an invitation to be mindful and caring about each individual as a whole person, rather than seeing each other simply as workers.