Here we are again, back to school time. School buses, backpacks, early bedtimes. Most of us either see this time of year as sad or joyous based on how our summer vacation went. For some, those school days are long gone as kids turn into adults or go off to college. Professionals without kids can also recall those chilly mornings from their own childhood waiting for the bus or walking to and from school. What is it about this time that makes it so special? Back to school means back to business.
I have long held the opinion that fall and back to school represent more of a beginning mindset than even January 1. Cool weather causes a change in behavior and mindset that resembles throwing the brakes on going downhill at 50 MPH. We change our wardrobe, our plans, and our decor. The heat comes on in the early and late hours (sometimes when the A/C is on at noon!) and we break out sweatshirts and hats. Our weekends consist of apples and pumpkins, football and MLB playoffs, and hiking and baking.
But one of the greatest shifts this time of year is getting back to business. Customers and employees have returned to what is a regular schedule. Fewer people are on vacation, and people are occupied with work during work hours. Even so, this season can pose challenges to business owners. Even the stay-at-home entrepreneurs must stay extra focused. Here are some ideas to take advantage of the mind set this time of year brings.
Try to be a little sympathetic to your staff during this time. They are exchanging their time with their family to be with you and your business. Some begin to experience regret about working full-time or at all. Reassure them of their value to you and your and the organization, and spend time talking about what they did over the summer. Congratulate them on sending their kids to college and allow them time to reflect. This can be a difficult time for some so do your best to not make them regret coming to work.
Back to school time is an excellent opportunity for setting new goals and tracking daily tasks and progress. Schedules, sports, meetings, and appointments take on a rigid framework. This can be good for some employees who thrive in that environment. Take the time to ask your staff where they are on their annual goals that were set during their review. Offer to help them set new goals for themselves and their department or suggest resources available to them to guide them on their way and back to business.
Fall is historically a great time to begin or continue budgeting and strategic planning. Read more about how to put a strategic plan in motion here.
Use the fall timeframe to plan an exciting holiday season for your staff. You may have your annual traditions at work, so get people excited about it. Build up to pumpkin picking and Thanksgiving and let them know your plans for Christmas or other holidays at that same time. Include everyone and make them feel special and part of the team. By getting everyone excited for what is to come, you can help them enjoy their workplace and stay committed to the team. Fall is also a great time for team building exercises and outings.
Change is inevitable, but that does not mean it is easy. Help your staff through the change of season by showing them appreciation, making them feel part of the team, and showing them you want them to grow and succeed.
President, Chameleon Group
p.s. Read about how Chameleon developed one of our workplace initiatives by clicking here.