Finish Wiser, Start Stronger: 13 Questions for December

Man, what a year … again!

If you’re a leader, you’ve probably had a challenging, fascinating, maddening, out-of-the-box, over-the-top year — probably two in a row.

Pandemic or not, December is the right time to block out a day and look back to learn and forward to jump-start 2022. You can certainly do this alone, but I’d love for you to do this with your senior team. Yes, I’m sure you already have a “quarterly business review” or some other type of annual planning meeting, but I also know that those become very tactical and judgmental. If you want to be more of a strategic thinker, this is your chance. Get it on your calendar!

Here are 13 questions to consider:

  1. What did we/I do well in 2021? (Ask this not only about the company but also yourself.)
  2. Of the things done well, which do we need to capture in a defined, reproducible process?
  3. Where did we/I fail in 2021?
  4. Is there anything we need to change based on what we learned about our failures?
  5. What did we learn about our customers in 2021 that’ll help us going forward?
  6. What did we learn about our coworkers in 2021 that’ll help us going forward?
  7. Beyond what we’ll see in our end-of-year financial review, has the financial model for our business changed permanently?
  8. Who were the heroes in the company last year, and how can we publicly reward them?
  9. How can we ensure our well-being when another tsunami hits?
  10. Is our strategy (e.g., which customers we serve and why they buy from us) still sound for 2022 and beyond?
  11. How do we attract and retain the best and brightest even when labor conditions normalize?
  12. How do we maintain or strengthen our culture in 2022?
  13. How do we have more fun around here in 2022?

If you’re the most senior person in the room, speak last and don’t dominate the conversation. Make sure that everyone participates and you appreciate all opinions. This isn’t the time to be critical!

Pretend you’re being graded on your facilitation as well as the honesty and depth of the conversation. If you’re uncomfortable with your talent as a facilitator, have someone else facilitate the meeting and learn that skill in 2022! It’s critical for leaders to know how to foster effective conversations.

Most importantly, let your people know how much you appreciate them.