In most cases, 2020 was a year that challenged us, our families, and businesses in ways that we could never imagine. While we may be glad to put 2020 behind us, we know we are still in the midst of the Pandemic. It is imperative that we focus on the year ahead with a sense of optimism to get our businesses growing. Let’s spend a few minutes looking at 3 critical areas for setting our priorities going into 2021.

We are recommending three key areas of focus that may need a tune-up, a major overhaul, or perhaps simply getting them off the ground in your business.

1.   Invest in your leadership team by training them. At least 90% of high-performing companies have one thing in common – outstanding leaders. Whatever training you put into your leaders will pay off in your top and bottom financial line success. The #1 reason employees leave a company is that they don’t trust or respect their direct boss. If implementing a formal leadership program isn’t currently feasible, start small, have your leadership team read a good leadership book each month or each quarter. Have your leaders read the same book and then spend 1-2 hours per month discussing “golden nuggets” they gleaned from the book and most importantly, how they can apply those “golden nuggets” into their leadership style. Here are a few books to consider putting on the list: Extreme Ownership, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, and Radical Candor.

2.   Create a talent management process for your employees. OK, so what the heck is a talent management process? It is simple and yet powerful. Every company, regardless of size has a performance curve of top and bottom performers. Yes, we did say every company. You have a top 25% of performers and a bottom 10-20% set of performers. The top 25% drive your business’ success, and of course, your bottom performers slow down your business, upset your customers and ultimately slow your overall growth. If you increase the performance level of your lower performers through coaching and feedback this will drive business success. In some instances, you may need to exit lower performers and hire better performers to replace them. If you improve the performance of low performers or replace them that increase in productivity will go directly to the bottom line. 

3.   Lastly, hold regular review or “touch base” meetings with employees on a monthly or quarterly basis. Many companies are doing away with the annual review process and moving toward more frequent conversations around performance, creating an open forum to talk with your employees and listen to their needs. Remember, good leaders do more listening than talking. They ask employees what help they need and what barriers exist internally that stop them from doing their jobs. If you really listen to your employees, they will share great ideas about the internal company barriers that slow them down. Once you identify the barriers, work together to remove them. Again, this will increase employee engagement, overall performance and most importantly, increase the bottom line.

Each strategy above is highly important, but honestly, #3 might be the most important in 2021. Your employees have been on an emotional roller coaster in 2020 just like you have due to Covid. Truly listening to your employees and understanding where they are emotionally this year, could be one of the great rewards for them above anything else you can do. Companies that have a great culture and overall work environment need to reinforce that more than ever in 2021.