If you’re wondering how you’re going to get your team charged up and laser focused for the year ahead – here’s your answer for the best year start ever!

…and the best part, it’s simple. I’ll talk you through step-by-step.

Facilitate these sessions anytime of year to draw a line under past performance and set yourselves up for success going forward.

You can do both parts all in one morning/afternoon (or take a whole day if you can get the whole team away for that time – could be a great opportunity to get really organised for the year ahead). So first, book your team off-site for a morning, afternoon, or full day.

What you’ll need

  • A space with a boardroom table set up (off-site means no interruptions).
  • Catering for coffees/morning tea/afternoon tea.
  • Flip chart, markers, blue tack.

Part 1 – Review the last 12 months and learn from your experience

Give your direct reports 3 pieces of flip chart and ask them to give each a title:

  1. What went well during the last 12 months?
  2. What didn’t go well during the last 12 months?
  3. What will we change for the better over the next 12 months?

It takes vulnerability and honesty to admit that some things weren’t great and they could do better. So, give them plenty of encouragement and reassurance!

Part 2 – Setting expectations

This is gold. Yet often, leaders don’t take the time. Expectations should be obvious, right? Wrong. In fact, the biggest cause of conflict in relationships is unmet expectations. I wonder how that’s playing out for you and your team…?

When you think about some of the things that didn’t go so well last year, how many of them can you attribute to unclear expectations? How many of you communicated with your team your expectations of them?

Yup, I’m guessing not many… Well read on – this exercise is going to impress the socks off your team and you’ll get better outcomes from it.

When you and your team set clear expectations of each other (both ways), they’ll feel safer, work harder, and feel more satisfied with their work. They’ll feel more content with their relationship with you, and with each other, and will therefore be more likely to achieve better results.

  1. Start with giving the team a sheet of flip chart and asking them to brainstorm what they expect from you.
  2. Once that’s full, give them another to brainstorm what they think you expect from them (this is super interesting!).
  3. Then finally – what they expect from each other.

The key is letting your team speak and not interjecting, arguing, or reacting… It makes buy-in a given. You can challenge, negotiate, and add any aspects missed at the end of each list, not during. Once all the lists are finalised, finish up with a bit of housekeeping:

  • How will the expectations be formalised – do you have agreement from all parties? (E.g. team charter).
  • How will the expectations stay top of mind throughout the year? (E.g. make it visual).
  • What should the consequences of not meeting expectations look like? (E.g. feedback given one on one or as a group).
  • What actions need to be taken to ensure agreed expectations can be met? (Create action plan).

What if your team raises an expectation you haven’t been meeting?

Eek, that potentially uncomfortable moment when negative feedback comes your way… Most importantly, be prepared for anything!

Listen; (shutting up is your most powerful tool). Respond – don’t react, because if you do, you’ll shut down this precious safe space and it’ll be really tough to win their trust back.

Do some roleplay in the mirror beforehand. “I hear you and get that that must have been frustrating/disappointing. Thank you for telling me, it’s something I’ll work on.”

Whatever you do, don’t defend, justify, blame, or attack. Practice those empathy skills and take it on board like a champ. Later you can decide if it’s something you need to work on, and if so, how. This is the start of a precious feedback loop you’ll want to keep alive. The more you truly listen to your team, the happier they’ll be, and the better they’ll perform.

Like what you see and want more where that came from?

Whether you’re an aspiring leader, a new leader, or an experienced leader, we can help you take your skills to the next level. Check our public training page for details or book a chat in my calendar!