September Reset: 5 Tips to kick-start the final quarter and optimise the year ahead
Sep 18th, 2023
Despite the weather trying to argue otherwise, for most of us September marks the end of the summer period and the countdown to the end of the year. Having recharged our batteries on holiday, the transition to autumn and the last few months of the year can be embarked on with renewed vigour, purpose and ambition.
For business leaders, September therefore provides the perfect opportunity to review and reset plans and use the time for focussing on growth.
Below are five proposed actions you can take that could contribute to making the final quarter, and the year ahead, a success..
1. Drive business growth through cross selling and collaboration
A previous company I worked with managed to increase its annual revenue by £5m in one year purely from the growth of business generated from existing and past clients, without any marketing spend. We did this by focussing on building stronger collaboration between colleagues across the business, including service lines that did not historically communicate with each other.
Many multi-service organisations have a number of products and services that their clients could benefit from, however it is common that clients are not aware of all of these. There is a danger of silo thinking with experts protecting their long-term client relationships. This can lead to losing business to competitors that have teams with diverse expertise that can address all the challenges of their clients and provide new ideas and solutions.
Even in hybrid cultures more and more businesses are booking regular in-person multi-team meetings. Teams become more knowledgeable and identifying business opportunities increases.
2. Give time to innovation and gain constructive feedback on new ideas
Anything important needs dedicated time and now is a good time to be thinking about new initiatives that can help solve your business and clients’ problems, so bring your team together to explore new ideas.
In this ‘blue sky’ meeting, get people to reflect on what has and hasn’t been working and give them the freedom to come together to consider ways to make improvements. Send them some good questions to prepare so they can do their own research. Have everyone bring at least one new idea to explore in a safe environment where no idea is a bad idea and encourage creativity free from judgement.
The managing director of a commercial property consultancy has always been creative when positioning the business. She believes it is their USP and the reason why clients choose them because they come up with solutions and ideas to that no-one else has thought of. For this reason she holds monthly ‘New Ideas’ meetings where people get together talk about their clients and their aspirations and give uninterrupted time to this.
Save time by testing the validity of a new initiative before pressing the ‘action’ button. I recall an entrepreneur, before finalising his new potential business idea, gained constructive feedback before he went ahead. He specifically led with ‘what don’t you like about this?’ – the comments from this he acknowledged saved him 6 months of correcting something he had not thought of. There is always a risk that people are prone to give you polite feedback on a new venture, so he found starting with this made a big difference and it is a practice he has continued before launching any new product.
3. Understand your client’s future aspirations
How often do you have big-picture strategic conversation with clients, away from the routine of tactical meetings that report work in progress?
Take some time to understand your clients’ future plans and what more they need from you. Do this at least twice a year. Priorities change so don’t just assume that what they have said before is the same now.
Use the information you gather to help set your own investment strategy. The CEO of a property agency who had previously invested heavily in technology only realised they had lost their competitive edge when a client responded to their questions and cited a competitor who they considered were more advanced. He made a decision then to continue to invest in specific tools that would restore their market position and continue to review this.
4. Develop your managers
Now is often a time for performance reviews to reflect on achievements and set ambitious goals for personal and professional development.
It is also a good opportunity to manage any expectations ahead of end of year bonuses – not every employee recognises that market conditions correlate with bonus levels.
One of the key skills of leadership is the ability to champion and motivate people and at the same time build the level of trust that allows you to have the difficult conversations. In my experience this is a balance that is not common, so consider putting in place training for leaders on how to deliver one-to-one reviews in a way that is motivational and provides clarity.
The greater the level of trust that exists, correlates directly with the level of challenge that is possible. Trust is built on consistency so making sure that regular progress reviews take place is key for performance and for relationship building between leaders and their teams.
5. Proactively retain and attract top talent
Losing key people is a blow to any organisation particularly at a time where finding talent is becoming increasingly challenging.
Proactively manage this by creating 3 – 5 year development plans with your key people. If people can see they have a career progression path that is linked to their professional and personal ambitions, with clear deliverables of success, they won’t be tempted to look elsewhere or accept offers from competitors.
Often the best offers come when people resign and this is usually too late, so review who you want to invest in, consider the possibilities of growth for them with their input, and give them a personalised plan that will motivate them to perform and increase their commitment so everyone benefits.
Let this September be a catalyst for growth and a commitment to excellence that will help you end this year strongly and position you for success next year. And don’t forget your own personal growth – are there gaps in your skill set that might stop you from achieving your ambitions?
If you would like to discuss how we could help you and your team reset and review your growth strategy please do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org