It's that time of the year again. Black Friday and the Christmas sales season are quickly approaching, coupled with everything else you set as goals for your team to have a great 2017. With only two months left, now is a great time to take stock of where you are, what the gaps are, and make whatever mid-course adjustments are necessary to end the year strong.

A lot has happened during the proceeding ten months--both good and bad. Don't focus on the reasons you've missed some goals. Instead, focus on what you can do over the next two months to finish strong.  

Here are five steps leaders can take to aggressively engage with their teams and employees to identify your options, the resources needed to execute and to recommit to achieving your goals for 2017.

1. Meet your team to openly discuss the possibilities.

It's time for a unified effort for the greater good of the business. Leaders should sit down and strategize with their teams to decide on an action plan and possible scenarios. Instruct every member of your team to present two to three ideas on how the business can end 2017 on a high note and discuss the most promising proposals.

You may find that some ideas will totally engage and excite your team, and by asking your employees to brainstorm, they will feel included in the decision making process.

Transparency is essential during this phase. Encourage employees from all departments to have better communication and provide resources to do so if necessary. 

2. Focus on the critical items to get done in the next two months.

Leaders must prioritize the most essential tasks that must be completed within the next few months. Keep in mind that when you are prioritizing these tasks, choose the actions that contribute to success the most. Establish the most important tasks and delegate to your employees accordingly, thereby creating a common goal and vision for your team.

Clearly lay out an action plan for your team, but leave the execution to them--do not micromanage. Which are not worth what little time you have left? Make these decisions with careful thought and get to work.

3. Remove any obstacles in the way.

A business's obstacles often come in the form of inefficiency, lack of resources, or undertrained employees. Streamline the work process to provide the quickest, most effective results. There's no time for extra steps anymore. Of course, employees can only be as productive as their resources allow them.

Perhaps you need to hire some extra hands for the end-of-year rush, or you need to tap into any excess budget provide your employees with whatever tools they need to work faster.

Finally, miscommunication is undoubtedly the most detrimental obstacle in business. Make sure everyone is on the same page and understands the goal the team is striving towards.

4. Revisit and temporarily adjust responsibilities.

As I mentioned, effective and fair delegation is key to ending the year strong. I cover this topic in the latest episode of my podcast, Driving Change, and explain that this leadership tool is not about dishing out directives from your office and giving employees overly-specific instructions.

However, employees may have to temporarily take on added responsibilities and duties to ensure the work is completed in time. As you know, the holiday season adds extended time away from the office which may be nice, but puts pressure on your already shrinking schedule.

Leaders, you are not excluded for added work, either. Going down into the trenches and helping your workers meet the rush head on will show you are part of the team and care about the work. 

5. Focus on action, action, action.

The first four techniques on this list is all about planning. But to really make a difference, you must expend your energy on a proactive plan that focuses on speed and results. Do not waste too much time on formalities and spending time in the meeting room. In the world of business, it seems the longer things stay in the planning steps, the less likely they will be realized. Make sure every member of your team is on board with the changes and make them happen.

Time is of the essence. It doesn't matter what happened the rest of the year, you can still end 2017 on a positive note by motivating your team and working alongside them with a proactive and efficient plan. The next two months are essential for your team's success and it's your responsibility to make it happen.

Published on: Oct 31, 2017