Many just want to put 2020 behind them. For most it has been a year like no other. Regardless of how 2020 has affected you, it will soon be a thing of the past. With December half over, what are you going to choose for your New Year’s resolutions? It is time for manufacturing leaders to think about what they plan to do differently next year. Manufacturing professionals need to consider four areas for change heading into 2021: time, team, money, or strategy.
Time. How do you plan to spend your time differently? Manufacturing leaders need to ask themselves, “Am I using my time for the things that will have the greatest impact?” There are several tips for making better use of one’s time. The first is to ensure that one is setting priorities and working on the most important things first. If it appears that there are too many important things, then consider simplifying your tasks. This can be done by:
- At one time some tasks may have been important, but now they have no value in comparison with the other things that must get done.
- An enormous amount of time can be saved by consolidating several tasks or doing several tasks at the same time.
- The Pareto rule states that 80% of your value-add to the business comes from 20% of your activities. Downsize those activities with less impact.
- Delaying or deferring. Find the tasks that can wait and put them off until later.
- Get things off your plate that you should not be doing.
- There is always someone willing to do something for you. It may cost you more than you think, but it is cheaper than if you did it yourself.
Team. Do you want the relationships you have with your team or a teammate to be better? You are not unique if you want to improve relationships with others. Many want better relationships but don’t know how to start. To strengthen your connection with someone, start safe. Ask them simple questions like “What did you do last weekend?” Once you hear their answer, dive deeper.
Questions like “Why do you like to do that?” or “What did you enjoy most about that?” can then be the start of a more meaningful and deeper connection. Be balanced as you practice empathy and curiosity with the other person. Be fully present as you listen and withhold judgement. Restate what you heard and ask more probing questions.
Money. COVID-19 had significant impacts on business’s profitability and cash flow. What did you learn? Were you short on cash to make it through a challenging market while sustaining your business? Many businesses learned this lesson in 2008 during the great recession and many have learned it in 2020 during the pandemic.
As a business leader, one must plan for these economic challenges. They will occur again. A resolution for 2021 might be to begin the process of putting in place enough liquidity to be able to weather another significant market decline.
Strategy. Should you New Year’s resolution be to reset your strategy? This starts with a review of your vision for the next 3 – 5 years. It is highly likely that changes that occurred in the economic environment in 2020 should drive you to change your vision.
And with COVID-19 not over, you may need to adjust your mission for 2021 so that you can improve your profitability while preparing for an economy where COVID-19 does not have the impact it has today. Resetting your strategy might be the key to a return to long-term growth and profitability in 2021 and beyond.
Once you choose your New Year’s resolutions, the next step is to take action to sustain them beyond the first few months of the year. There are two great techniques to help you stay the course. First, write down your resolutions. Not only write them down but quantify them and then identify actions you can take every month, week, and day to achieve them. Second, identify an accountability partner.
This can be an individual with whom you share your resolution who helps you to hold yourself accountable. Or your accountability partner might be your organization with which you have shared your resolution and with whom you are enlisting their collective support to help you achieve your ambitious resolution.
As 2020 comes to a close, look back and assess time, team, money, and strategy. What can you learn from this unusual year? What can you take away so that you can look at 2020 as the pivot point to your successful future? When the clock strikes midnight on December 31, will you have put in place the actions necessary to have a successful 2021? Make your New Year’s resolutions now and be prepared.
About the Author: Mike Ungar is a Certified FocalPoint Business Coach and Trainer. He has 35 years of experience with Michelin in manufacturing and human resources. Mike is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and the Clemson MBA program.