Is it just me or does that back to school feeling still hit you, even though you haven’t gone ‘back to school’ in ages? There is something about September and getting back into a routine after the classic Winnipeg summer slowdown. Even though August was a very busy month for me from a work perspective, I can still feel the momentum shift as we enter September.
I haven’t gone ‘back to school’ for 10 Septembers now and I don’t have kids going back to school, so what is it about September?
I always appreciate any opportunity to reset and shift focus back to my priorities at work and at home. Both September and January have that feeling for me. Both of those months come after, what are usually, busy months where ‘focus’ isn’t always top of mind.
For kids going back to school, it’s all about getting those back to school supplies and a few new outfits and perhaps making a few commitments to work harder at school in the year to come. So what can ‘back to school’ or ‘back to work’ look like for us? I think one of the most meaningful things we can do at work or for our business is to identify our top priorities and make sure that we are making time for those priorities above anything else. We get so bogged down in all of the fires we need to put out and the little things we can check off our list, that we don’t always prioritize the really important things.
If your business operates on a calendar year, it’s also a bit of a wake-up call that there are only 3.5 months until Christmas and that we have a lot of s#!t to get done to reach our goals by the end of the year!
For leaders, it is a great time of year to refocus on leading your team intentionally and making time to lead. Make sure you have scheduled an hour or more in your calendar every week to think, plan and strategize on what your team as a whole and what the individuals on your team need from you this fall.
Everyone is back from summer vacations and long weekends at the cottage so take the opportunity to schedule one on one check-in’s with each individual on your team. This is a chance to recalibrate after a potentially less than focused summer. Review any current priorities or quarterly goals with your team and make sure everyone is on the same page and moving forward together.
September is an opportunity to revisit the things that you want to work on as a leader as well. You may want to focus on giving more meaningful and regular recognition, or spending more one on one time with team members. Maybe you want to focus on getting more input from the team or building professional development plans for each of your team members. Whatever it is, September is a great time to start. Just pick one thing to improve on as a leader and keep it simple, work on that one thing until it’s become a habit. Then pick a new one to focus on.
Set some intentions about what you want to accomplish this fall and what you want/need from your team to make it happen. Then build a plan around executing on those intentions.
Finally, if a new set of notebooks or pens and a ‘back to work’ outfit gives you as much joy after 10 Septembers of not going back to school as it does for me, go for it! 😉
Jane Helbrecht is a Partner at Acuity HR Solutions. She leads the training and development function with a focus on Acuity’s Intentional People Leadership training program.