Part 2: ‘Back’ to Business or Starting Something New?

typewriter with a piece of paper that says ‘2021’

10 Ways to Refresh Your Approach for 2021

Last month, I revealed the first five of ten things that you can start on right now to improve and refresh your outlook in 2021.

To refresh your memory, the ten ways were:

1, Work on your purpose (‘why’).

2. Identify the value you provide.

3. Put your culture (‘how’) into practice.

4. Flatten the org chart.

5. Increase the speed of decision making.

6. Identify if you are attractive to talent.

7. Review your systems and put them to work.

8. Fail and learn, fail and learn.

9. Look at your diversity.

10. Keep learning.

So, let’s dive straight into the next five things!

6. Identify if you are attractive to talent

You may have had to adjust your workforce over the course of 2020, but now is a great time to review the skills and talent you have in your organisation and set up for a better 2021.

You can look at things two ways:

1. What am I doing to retain the talented employees I already have?

2. How attractive is my organisation to the talent I need?

In terms of retention, how are you motivating your staff to stay with you? One of the best forms of motivation is increased responsibility and learning new skills. What is your plan for that in 2021? The best skill we can all have now is being open to change. What is your team’s level of skill in managing change?

For attracting new talent, imagine a potential new starter walking into your work area (or joining a Zoom call). What would they see?  A noisy, friendly, engaged team eager to help, or a quiet professional one with everyone doing their own thing?

This is a major factor in determining who you need to attract to work in your business. Have you done any analysis of the personality type of the people you need to attract rather than focusing on just skills and experience?

7. Review your systems and put them to work

Your systems and how they work together are essential to the productivity of your business. This year brings the perfect opportunity to review what you have in place and identify any gaps in processes.

The best place to start is to map out your organisation’s key activities and what systems support these. Then, workshop with the team who uses those systems – how effective are they? How much time is taken up with inefficient activities such as double-entry or printing out documents to store in files?

Other systems and processes to review include:

– Do you have an effective CRM to support your sales team (and your customers)?

– Do you effectively track service calls or complaints?

– Is your finance system old and outdated?

– Do you need to look at an ERP?

– Are you getting accurate data out of your systems to enable decision making?

– Are you making use of the cloud rather than having equipment in-house?

Technology can be scary, but now is the time to get on the front foot and get your systems working for you rather than the other way around.

8. Fail and learn, fail and learn

In many personality types, one of the common issues that hold us back from doing what we want is our fear of failure.

Often in our personal lives, we know we have to take risks, but we are unable to do so because if it doesn’t work out, we will look stupid and people will think we are losers!

Make 2021 the year when you and your team embrace failure and try different things!

Get with your team and build an ’ideas bank’ outlining how things can be improved – and don’t be concerned about how ‘way out’ the ideas are. Then choose a few small projects that your team can try (you will need to allocate some time to it) that may improve a process or one of your systems. If it doesn’t work out, try another approach, or try the next project.

Removing the burden of failure will be a breath of fresh air.

Even great and highly successful end products such as Post-it Notes, Gmail and Google Maps were not created by a defined strategy – they emerged from ideas generated by individual staff members in their ‘free’ time.

9. Look at your diversity

In the US, diversity has been a massive issue in 2020 both in society and in business.

In Australia, we have different diversity issues to the US, but why not make 2021 the year when you start talking and thinking about diversity for your business? It is well proven that diverse organisations have better ideas that turn into better products and services, in turn creating better profit.

So, why not address it now?

The first step is to understand what diversity means to your business. Do you have people of different age groups? Do you have a gender imbalance? Are all the managers males?

This needs to be done in a calm and non-judgemental way. If you are a traditionally white-male-centric business, now could be the time to diversify. In any case, starting the conversation is important to cultivate an understanding that diversity needs to be part of your business strategy moving forward.

10. Mental health – Keep learning and helping yourself

The year 2020 took a big toll on most of us, but it is not now a case of just saying that it is all behind us and that it is time to move on. We need to learn from 2020 and understand that mental health is vitally important to us as people and to our organisations.

You, as the business owner or manager, need to lead from the front. Your business is a large part of your life, but you need time away from it to keep the ideas and changes flowing, and in doing so to make it more successful.

Do you spend most nights working on emails or admin? If you do, your team will follow suit and instead of relaxing with family or friends, try to outdo each other with emails until late at night. Do you spend time reading about different things or simply walking and thinking? Do you utilise a coach or mentors who you can talk to? Mental health is not just about the extremes of anxiety and depression – it is about continually broadening our outlook and learning new things so that our minds are exercising. This makes us better humans and better workers.

Tackling this list all at once may be impossible.

However, as Einstein said, “in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.”

Treat 2021 as an opportunity for a fresh start, a new approach and your opportunity to reinvigorate yourself and your team for greater success.