thinking about the new year

You’re probably getting a lot of advice about how this time of year is good for taking stock of you and your team, where you are now and where you want to be. People who do this mean well, but just saying, “Give some thought to where you want to go,” is not all that helpful. At best you will focus on some things that matter, at worst you become a blubbering pile of insecurities because it all seems like too much.

Or maybe that’s just me.

To help guide your thinking, and even have meaningful conversations with your people that are guaranteed to surprise you, here are some questions you can use to frame all that pondering, thinking, and mental inventory.

How are we doing with our milestones and task completion?

This year it feels like just showing up and getting anything done was a victory. And it was. But work will continue after January 1. Let’s see if we can’t be more productive and efficient while we’re at it.

What’s working and what’s not?

A lot of processes were put in place to simply get you through the pandemic. We are talking more than simply work processes here. How’s communication? Are you getting the collaboration results you want from your team? What do you and your teammates need to do to not just tread water, but coalesce into a team you can all be proud of?

Are there individuals on the team who excel?

Are your star performers still performing like stars? Have the crazy circumstances shown you new sources of wisdom and excellence?Who’s stepped up? And what will you do about it when it comes to development, promotion and special projects?

Who’s struggling? Is it COVID-related or more deep-seated than that?

It’s easy when we’re dealing with being stuck at home, coping with the health of ourselves and our loved ones, and existential dread to forgive poor performance. And we should, if we have any empathy at all. But there’s a business to run, and we need to separate legitimate distractions from people just losing interest or not being very good at their jobs. Do you need to investigate the WHY of the problem, not just the WHAT?

Are the tools we’re using working as expected? What needs to change? 

It’s likely that your team has taken on a number of new tools and technology this year. How’s it going? Are they using the tools as well as they might? Do the tools get the job done? Do they need training or a whole new way of working? This is a good time to ask those questions.

What is the best thing I did this year, and why does it matter? 

Some of us (like me) tend to dwell on the negative when doing an exercise like this. Framing the question as positive might allow us to feel a bit better about ourselves.

What is the one thing (even though it’s probably impossible) I could do that would fundamentally change how we work?

This question is aspirational, and that matters. It’s surprising when you share the answers to this question at how many people have the same idea—which can lead to actual planning and goal setting. It’s also funny how one person’s impossible dream is how someone else is already working.

Idle daydreaming can be healthy. Obsessing over the negative is not. To guide your thinking in the right direction, use these questions as a starting point.

Good luck, see you in 2021!



Wayne Turmel--The Remote Leadership Institute

Wayne Turmel
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager

Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in

Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. You can pre-order Kevin and Wayne’s follow-up book, The Long-Distance Teammate, now.

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