Posted October 12, 2020 by Mark Perna
We’ve reached Q4. Here are three ways businesses and employees can make it count. Mark’s article, “How You Can Finish 2020 Strong—And Way Better,” published at Forbes.com on September 29, 2020.
2020 was the year that no one was expecting. Three quarters in, businesses and employees alike have been forced to pivot, adapt and perform in circumstances far beyond anyone’s control. We’ve all learned a lot from 2020—but it’s not over yet.
With Q4 almost here, now might be a good moment to pause and consider what has been lost, gained and discovered thus far—and where to go from here. I recently connected with Smartsheet CEO Mark Mader to talk about how businesses and individuals can make the most of Q4 2020. Here are his insights.
Tough as it was to implement, America’s massive remote-work experiment has some definite silver linings for the future of work. One such lining is the impetus it gave to remote-work technology. “With the technology we now have available, the distributed workforce can achieve more than we would have ever thought possible, even just a few years ago,” says Mader.Tough as it was to implement, America’s massive remote-work experiment has some definite silver linings for the future of work. Click To Tweet
Remote-work technology benefits workers in numerous ways: flexibility, no commute, and employment no longer being tied to geographical location, to name a few. For businesses, there are immense savings in rent, utilities and facility maintenance, along with an unprecedented ability to source talent from anywhere.
As advancing technology is making the from-home workforce possible, it is simultaneously becoming simpler for non-technical workers to navigate. “By giving people the ability to access real-time information, automate and reinvent processes, design customized workflows and maintain connection to the company and their colleagues, people can be productive and take action, regardless of their location or level of technical skill,” says Mader.
All of this adds up to an exciting trend toward employee empowerment. “Seeing business leaders put more power in the hands of dynamic workers is a long overdue and extremely exciting change.”
Despite the positives, there are some less-than-great habits emerging from the remote-work model. “The focus on communication to the exclusion of everything else is a problem,” says Mader. “Many workers have moved from analog busy work to digital busy work—commenting, sharing, meeting and assigning, but not actually creating value for the business.”
“We’re all busier than ever, but we need to ask ourselves if we’re actually achieving anything.”
Additionally, the ‘crisis mode’ that employees and companies adopted to survive the disruption can be hard to break out of. Now that the immediate crunch is over, it’s time to stop blindly reacting and start responding with an eye toward long-term growth. “Many businesses are still in a ‘solve the present’ mindset when they should be using this unique time to rethink and transform,” says Mader.We’re all busier than ever, but we need to ask ourselves if we’re actually achieving anything. Click To Tweet
No matter how tough the first three quarters have been, companies and individual workers can finish 2020 way better than it started. These three steps can help you assess your year thus far and strengthen your trajectory toward success.
Honest evaluation may be painful at times, revealing major areas of improvement, but it’s absolutely necessary. “Heading into the last quarter of 2020, it’s important for companies, teams and employees to reflect on the past nine months and evaluate what has and has not worked,” says Mader.
Ask probing questions like: What did we do right? Where did we fail? Are we open to ideas and contributions from every employee? What new opportunities has the pandemic created for our business? What old models and ways of doing business need to be left behind? Then, get ready to act on the answers.
Once you’ve evaluated your response to the business challenges of COVID-19, it’s time to cut loose whatever is not working. That could be anything from workflow and project management to the technology you use to get work done. “To improve our workplace, we must understand what tools truly enabled our teams and positively impacted our business,” says Mader.
Don’t feel like you have to use something that isn’t working just because it’s available. “Guard against creating additional work and adding technology just for the sake of adding technology,” Mader cautions. In a word, streamline.
Getting through the roughest six months in recent memory is worth some recognition (at the very least, you can celebrate that there’s just one more quarter between you and 2021). “We should give ourselves and our colleagues credit for operating during such unprecedented times,” says Mader. “It hasn’t been easy, but we can make it out the other side better than we began.”
And remember, not all profits come in the form of shareholder returns. Growth as an employee and as a company can be incredibly valuable to your long-term viability in a changing world. “Resilience and adaptability are two of the core pillars in human nature,” says Mader. “How businesses ignite these attributes in their workforce now will serve them well in the future.”
So give credit where it’s due to yourself, your employees and your company, for all you have achieved during these trying times.
However you’re feeling about your 2020, it’s coming to a close. Company profits and personal productivity may not measure up to where you were at this time last year, but the lessons learned can hold tremendous value for a positive future. Don’t miss your opportunity to finish 2020 strong—and way better.