Preparing Your Team For A New Year - Success Begins In The Fall

Preparing Your Team For A New Year – Success Begins In The Fall

September 17, 2014

Preparing Your Team For a New Year – How Will You Set Them Up For Success?

What You May Be Feeling:

October haanxietys many things to celebrate from baseball to football to leaves changing/season’s changing and of course, the pumpkin spice latte. There is an energy in the air. However, there is also anxiety in the air, because for most executives October means budget season for 2014, goal setting, benefits enrollment, and still needing to keep the momentum to achieve the goals for this year.

positive energyWhich ever emotion you are feeling (anxiety or energy), I guarantee your teams are feeling the same ones. This is the perfect time of the year to steal them away and allow them to dream and reflect in a productive way. It will infuse energy into the remainder of the year and allow for them to feel relaxed going into the holiday season so that they can be refreshed and excited to get started again in January.

Whether you lead a board of directors, a small non-profit, a sports team, or an executive team, the premise and the need for this kind of planning and “playing” is crucial.

What you do or don’t do says a lot about you as a leader during these last few months of the year.

So, What Can You Do About It?

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem

1. Conduct a survey to understand how your team members are feeling and to solicit their ideas for the new year (this will allow them to dream in a productive way)

2. Plan a “Possibilities Session”– a team building event that will infuse physical and mental activities into the day, which will unlock energy. Follow this team building or organized “play” with a “Possibilities Session” or if that is just to fluffy for you, then call it a strategy session.

3. Create a “Dream Board” – have a dream board for the team or the office to allow everyone to contribute to the dream board. This is a great exercise once a year that will allow for professional dreams to be revisited throughout the upcoming year for a reminder when attitudes wain or when stress occurs. You can also make this a theme for a planning meeting and give each person their own “dream board’ for their personal lives and start the meeting off with a dreaming session that focuses imagineon no business but rather all individual life dreams. This combined with some physical activity will unlock the kid inside that we all bury or hide from work and this is the creative side that needs to be unleashed before starting to plan for the new year.

4. Conduct a “Count Your Blessings” or “Gratitude” Meeting – Allow this session to unlock all of the positive energy in the room and put it down on paper this can be a collective brainstorming session or an individual reflection exercise or combination of both. It will start your planning session off with appreciation that can then be turned into possibilities. Infuse a compass activity into the session with a blown up compass that each person can attach post it notes to with their thoughts for each area. You can then collectively discuss the results.

5. Conduct a Team Building Process that begins with the individual in mind and ends with the team. This process can easily then be followed on with a planning session for the new year. Team building does not have to be a physical one or a game, it can easily be all brain infused activities…here a list of suggestions:

  • Use The FYI (For Your Improvement books and processes)
  • Utilize the enneagram and an enneagram coach (or Myers Briggs, Strength Finders, or any other personality profile) that can share individual and team elements to the observations and discussions
  • Infuse an activity like John Busacker’s Book “Now Discover Your Strengths” or Dan Zadra’s “Five” book (Where will you be in five years)
  • Use a book that you can debrief together and discover how people feel about it (popular ones are “Who Moved My Cheese”, “Our Iceberg is Melting”, “It’s Our Ship”, “Bold Moves -Jump into Outstanding Self-Managed Action”
  • Create life/personal mission statements and then create a team mission statement


Now What?


Follow up any activity you do with a way of reminding everyone of that time together so that when any anxiety creeps in, they will have a reminder of a positive powerful energy and time together with a team that made an impact. This is important following your planning and then again in the new year to infuse the activity into your culture. Even if you are a strong macho leader who doesn’t want to share your softer side, I assure you, you can accomplish this without being cheesy and feeling silly if you do it with a sophisticated approach. Instead of a thank you card, send each person a book or a gift that represents something from the meeting that was meaningful and simply sign a note saying, “looking forward to the possibilities in the new year”. Or write down quotes that came from your team and use those in a subsequent newsletter, memo, card, or conference call to continue to remind them of the time together but in a way that focuses on them versus on you.

If you conducted a survey prior to a planning session, then conduct a follow up survey to receive feedback about the mindset of your team now that you’ve spent some time focusing on them and the plans for the future. Use these results as a catalyst for your next meeting together to continue the planning and conversation. This will carry the momentum forward into your new year.

*Thank you to my friend Jamie Caraher for her contributions to this blog…she is a profound dreamer and tremendous leader of teams and sparked the idea of the dream board and count your blessings moments in life.

For more information, assistance in getting started, or ideas, please feel free to contact me at

Enjoy this time of year..and I simply must say “Go Broncos” because between pumpkin spice bundt cakes and Broncos games, I can’t help but feel full of energy this time of year. What’s your motivation?! I would love to hear about it.