New Year, New Team: New Year’s Resolutions for Your Team

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, it’s hard to avoid New Year’s Resolutions at this time of year. Whether you believe in the practice of making resolutions or not, the beginning of the year is clearly a great time to work on forming new habits. It’s refreshing to leave the past behind and look forward.

Of course, most of the time these resolutions are personal – exercise more, get organized, learn a new language. But I would argue that the New Year is also a great time to make team resolutions. Not to be confused with team metrics which are measurable goals or objectives, I’m talking about behaviors or skills that you want to foster in your team this year. Just like eating better and going to the gym, these habits will make your team healthier.

Here are a few resolutions I’d recommend to any team:

  • More focus on emotional intelligence – This is a passion of mine, delivering the gospel of emotional intelligence to teams everywhere. For the uninitiated, emotional intelligence is about identifying emotions (in ourselves and others), relating to others and communicating about our feelings. By practicing more emotional intelligence, you’ll empathize with your co-workers and build trust on your team. The better you are at it, the more successful leader you’ll be and a healthier team you’ll have.
  • Respect people’s time – We can all slide into bad habits, and this is one that is easily fixed. Commit yourselves to respecting each other’s time, and prove it by arriving to meetings a few minutes early and starting meetings on time. Bonus points if you create and distribute agendas in advance. This is especially important for virtual teams and meetings with people in different time zones.
  • Sharpen communication practices – Time to dust off that communication charter and recommit to following your established communication protocols. (Or time to write one, if necessary). In my work with virtual teams, I’ve learned that there is no such thing as over-communication. The best way to avoid communication pitfalls is to be extremely clear and disciplined about how the team will communicate, from choosing the right vehicle for the right message, to following a no-side-conversations and no-interruption policy in meetings. Leave no room for misunderstanding.
  • Get real – Create a team culture that encourages and supports authenticity. Foster an open environment where you can ask for advice and admit you don’t have all the answers. Allow yourself and your teammates to be transparent and even vulnerable. Acknowledge your strengths with humility. It’s exhausting, not to mention unproductive, to put up filters. You’ll be surprised at the trust you will create when you get real.

As the team leader, it’s your job to lead by example if these resolutions have any hope of sticking. Be the leader that YOU would want to follow. By living and breathing your resolutions for this coming year, your team members will be engaged and motivated to follow.

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