Over the years, I've interviewed hundreds of CEOs, mostly on the subject of management technique, but I've never asked CEOs what they do at the beginning of each year to secure their teams' success.

In this exclusive, here's what eight CEOs from up-and-coming consumer and retail firms had to say:

1. Listen as much as you provide direction.

"One of the best ways to help employees feel successful is to be transparent about company objectives for the new year, and then discuss how their roles and responsibilities contribute to achieving said goals. Get their perspective on what they feel they can contribute so you can ensure their views match your own."
-- Ruk Adams, CEO and President of The Little Gym International

2. Meet on a personal level.

"I believe that the most effective way to manage a team is to truly hear and value their ideas and concerns. This doesn't mean that there shouldn't be boundaries, but I believe that in all relationships respect is earned by giving it. One of the ways we motivate our team is to inspire them to live their healthiest lives. We offer corporate employees a gym membership and find that they enjoy going to the gym before or after going to work because it helps them relieve stress."
-- Kat Eckles, Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Clean Juice

3. Encourage independent entrepreneurism.

"Encourage your team members literally to become the CEO of their own divisions within their respective business unit. This means giving them permission to fail - permission to decide - but most importantly giving them the expectation to make a decision. Giving your team that level of ownership can create a culture of initiative, where thinking outside the box is embraced and failure is only an opportunity to learn."
-- Jon Sebastiani, CEO & Founder of Sonoma Brands

4. Don't put constraints on your team.

"Give them the freedom to create their own goals, and allow them to put tactics in place to achieve such goals as this allows for more accountability. Also, its important make them feel safe by letting them know that mistakes are inevitable; I'd rather them try and not succeed then not try at all. Both of these methods together will encourage creativity and innovation."
-- Jeff Platt, CEO of Sky Zone

5. Help them set personal and professional goals.

"People feel empowered when they are responsible for setting and achieving their goals. We urge our team to participate in workshops on leadership, project management, or other areas where they would like to improve to help facilitate the accomplishment of the goals they set. For example, one employee completed a 3 month Introduction to Project Management class at a local college to help her with the day to day management of certain projects."
-- Alon Ozery, CEO and Founder of Ozery Bakery

6. Focus on long-term vision.

"This entails making sure that everyone at every level of our business has a clear understanding of what we are collectively working towards, and how their individual roles contribute to that vision. This communication starts with myself and the leadership team. By clearly communicating with staff at all levels we make sure we always march in the same direction."
-- Ashley Morris, CEO and Founder of Capriotti's

7. Set both team and individual goals.

"Setting goals early and redefining roles helps to keep the team motivated and finds what works best not only the team as a whole, but also individual team members. Our team members wear many hats, so the new year is a perfect time to prioritize and check in with each other to ensure efficiency. Frequent meetings and reporting have helped to keep us on track with a clear vision of what we are working towards in the new year."
-- Harriet Mills, CEO and Founder of Wine & Design

8. Supply the right tools and resources.

"It is important to make sure employees have all of the tools needed and the freedom to do their job. In order to do so, I have had to take a step back and give my team the room they need to complete the job they were hired for. This will help them to be happier and better-performing, ensuring optimal results for the brand. In addition, it allows them to have challenging and fulfilling careers - something equally important to me."
-- Young Lee, CEO and Founder of The Flame Broiler

Note: for those of you who might have tried to access this article earlier in the week, it got caught in a technological black hole. Sorry for any hassle this might have caused you!

Published on: Jan 13, 2017
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