Get back to work: Engagingly!
January can be a hard month at work, especially for people who took time off during the end-of-year holidays. Here are some tips for jump-starting your year that can both improve your personal productivity and raise employee engagement with your team:
1. Move your schedule up
When getting back into a normal work rhythm can seem arduous, addressing the issue head-on makes the most sense. First, review each day’s agenda the night before. Your spouse may yell about working in the evening (especially on Sunday night!) but spending an hour nailing down stuff that needs attention helps in three ways:
- A better night’s sleep: All the stuff you need to remember is written down, so it doesn’t need to stay in your head.
- A faster start to the day, as you are already set to act on your daily plan.
- A more pleasant start to the day (this can rub off on others, too) as you know where you are going those first few hours. Nothing calms the nerves like removing uncertainty.
Go into work a little early each Monday. Get that re-entry over with quickly instead of dragging it out. This also gives you time to greet co-workers before meetings start and demands pile up (see point four below).
Nothing beats having three agenda items done before 9 am. That sense of accomplishment can carry you through an entire day!
2. Put an appointment with yourself on the calendar for the end of every work day.
Assess the day’s events. Record the results. Revise your calendar. Make that last call you forgot about in the day’s hustle. This is private time that must not be given to someone else (unless the boss really insists.) Make sure everyone knows what this time means to you, especially your boss.
Plus, if you really keep this appointment every day, you can eliminate some of the evening planning work that drives your family crazy!
3. Put an appointment in your calendar every month to review progress against more strategic goals.
Check progress. Be frank about it! What needs to change to keep yourself and your team on track?
4. Make interaction with others a requirement, not a break
Mingling with your coworkers may seem like a break, and therefore a guilty pleasure, but each interaction has tremendous value in building engagement:
- Connect with fellow workers beyond work by sharing personal stories and anecdotes.
- Talk about work, too. Casual conversations in the hall are the best for checking progress and asking if extra help is needed. (Meetings should be reserved for decision-making and action items.)
- Build a reputation for accessibility, while still hewing to your own goal-focused daily agenda.
- Keep these interactions short, but intersperse two or three “walk-abouts” into your day, especially among peers and subordinates.
Set a productive pace for January, and you will find February has arrived before you know it!