Three ways to set a positive tone for your team in 2017

By Rebecca Self
Rebecca Self

In many parts of the world, 2017 will start with division, tension, and heated contest. Three weeks into the new year, the US Inauguration fills people the world over with uncertainty: What will this mean for markets and the economy? What will it mean for geopolitical stability? More than ever, leaders are asking how they can set a positive tone for their teams.


No matter your location, industry or politics, here are three steps to setting a positive tone for your team at the start of the year:

1. Start with Why

With client after client, we see individuals and teams focused on details and tasks to the detriment of larger, more important goals and working relationships. Start 2017 (and every day, week, month, quarter) returning your team’s focus to the big picture, to your larger shared purpose, to your reason for being (as per Simon Sinek’s Start with Why work).

Even in explicitly purpose-drive organizations like non-profits, leaders need to regularly (daily) put the larger purpose front and center and ongoingly use it as a yardstick or litmus test for tasks and activities.

2. Clear the Air: Start Fresh

We may have decked the halls this holiday season; now it’s time to start fresh. Hold at least one all-hands-on-deck meeting to complete 2016 and create 2017.
What could have gone better last year? Where did we flub up or fall short?
What worked well? How did we exceed expectations? What did we enjoy?
Consider both external and internal relationships and results.
What should we stop, start, and continue doing given our thoughts on last year?
Be sure you have answered these questions yourself, and give your team the opportunity to answer thoroughly before sharing your own ideas.

3. Envision your team’s upcoming year together

What do we want to accomplish in the coming year?
What should we measure or count so we know we’re winning?
How do you want it to look and feel? (Think big.)
What will we need to be and do to accomplish this?
Include targets, who we are, where we need to grow, shine, or address gaps.

Again, have ideas yourself in advance, and do not share them first (maybe not in this session at all). Let them envision.

Finally, discuss with your team how you’ll interact with them: when can they expect to see you and why do you think about it that way? How should they deliver information, updates, to you and the team?

No matter who or what comes or goes in 2017, using these steps can help to start 2017 right. Repeated each quarter, this kind of communication and larger perspective can increase focus, improve team culture, and maximize results.