Q4 is more about planning for the upcoming year than scrambling to save the current one. Whether 2014 was financially lucrative, or a year devoted to longer term investments in infrastructure and R&D, it provides an opportunity to take stock and confirm the direction for next year.

Transparency and communication with staff is crucial to maintaining morale and enthusiasm. The vision of company leadership is often not clear to the worker. A five-year time horizon, typical for CEO decision making, is not the focus of a manager disappointed by the first six months’ sales.

  • The expectations concerning the bottom line are not necessarily what is most important. The company may have invested substantially in R&D, for example, with a return expected in future years. Convey the company strategy to staff so that they understand that goals are being met although the profit and loss statement may imply otherwise.
  • Les McKeon of Inc. emphasizes the need to analyze the high and low points of the past year. Include staff and invite their feedback. Transparent communication involves openly discussing operations or cultural factors that can be improved, and planning ways to do so. Review of poor performing areas is crucial to identify future improvements.
  • By identifying areas of improvement for the upcoming year, management and staff can begin strategizing as to how to effect change. Paul R. Lawrence, in the Harvard Business Review, suggests that removing the blind spots, providing plenty of lead time, and supporting staff through a slower change process can reduce resistance to new ideas.
  • With the hard work completed, congratulate staff and take time to celebrate. The holidays are imminent, and there are myriad ways to make the holiday season a more pleasant one. Now that the economy seems to be recovering from the recession, plan a holiday party or give staff a day off for holiday shopping. By taking unexpected respite, staff can recharge and build enthusiasm for the upcoming year.

Continue to build relationships and trust with staff, stakeholders, and local communities. This time of year is ideal to reach out and follow through with commitments. Volunteer in the local community, or have staff take time if they would like to contribute. Improve your company reputation and show that you deliver on your promises.

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