Business leaders share tips for motivating teams in the New Year

WeWork members share their strategies for beginning the year right

For many, the first weeks of January are brimming with reflection: The New Year is an opportunity to evaluate your position in the world and identify the next milestones you hope to achieve. Yet this is not only an opportunity for personal growth; typically, the New Year includes professional goal-setting, too. Business leaders can tap into this sentiment to motivate employees and align teams for the year ahead. 

A diverse set of WeWork members share their strategies for engaging employees and beginning the year in the strongest way possible. 

Facilitate a ‘big-picture’ brainstorm

For sustainable jewelry company Bird + Stone, starting the new year involves looking to the past to plan for the future. “I love when we do our annual retrospective in January and get to dive into the things that worked, didn’t work, or surprised us about the last year,” says Caitlin Kawaguchi, director of marketing and partnerships at Bird + Stone, a member at WeWork Dumbo Heights in New York. The team’s retro is partnered with a “big-picture” brainstorm. “There’s a great feeling of possibility in the New Year, and that’s when some of the best ideas come up,” she says. 

Host a retreat and ask leading questions

For influencer marketing agency Social Studies, escaping the New York winter and traveling to a warm destination—like Miami—is one way the team recalibrates at the beginning of each year. “People really get away from things and leave the normal day-to-day,” says founder and CEO Brandon Perlman. “[This gives employees] an opportunity to think about what they can do to contribute to the business.”

A company that connects brands with social media influencers, Social Studies has a headquarters designed by WeWork and employs 15 people in New York. In order to instill a sense of ownership in each of his team members, Perlman typically asks three questions during one-on-one meetings in January, including: 

  1. What’s your superpower?
  2. How will you use that superpower to help the business succeed in 2020?
  3. What will you learn in the next few years to influence the business long-term?

Beyond the New Year, the team at Social Studies employes the “Objective and Key Results” (OKR) management framework to drive accountability in teams and individuals.

Encourage personal reflection

According to Prashant Mehta, founder and CEO of sustainable clothing company Conscious Step, growth happens most naturally when you give employees space for reflection—and what better time to do this than the beginning of the year?

“If you start head-on on January 2, you burn out faster,” says Mehta, who runs Conscious Step from WeWork 109 S 5th St in Brooklyn, New York. “In those first weeks, I think you should let people align with their personal goals—let them share their own visions, find ways to help them, and collaborate without too much going on.” 

Revisit your mission statement

To work as intended, mission statements should be living and breathing sentences that evolve with your company and its trajectory. For Cody Fisher—founder of Blue Ox Marketing in New York and a member at WeWork Gotham Center in Queens—the New Year is an ideal time to evaluate his company’s mission statement and what it means to his employees.

“If you start with a good mission statement, you can conquer the world,” Fisher says. “Re-discovering those guiding principles is a great way to create alignment and unity, increase engagement, help recruit better talent, and just do better work at the end of the day.”

(See some of the best mission statement examples and find out how to write an effective mission statement.) 

WeWork 31 Zongfu Lu in Chengdu.

Envision an ideal state

Creativity and motivation are two themes Kathleen Brown, founder of wellness platform Buddhi, aims to cultivate in her workplace during the New Year period. She does this by envisioning what an “ideal workday and environment” looks like with her team, which is comprised of fellow WeWork members and a former WeWork employee. (She moved from a hot-desk into a three-person office at Chicago’s WeWork 625 W Adams Street in November.)

“We’ve done several activities to talk about our own personal wellness and work environment—let’s talk about what you need and what you need to be supported,” says Brown, a cancer survivor who launched Buddhi to support other cancer patients and their families. “What are your goals? What activities do you like to do? What fills your soul?”

Set timelines against each goal

The New Year is all about Fashion Week for Alejandro Cerecedo, a senior fashion account executive at PR firm Another Company and a member at WeWork Reforma 26 in Mexico City. “All the brands we have in the group participate in New York, Milan, Paris, and London fashion shows, which start in February,” he says. 

Even still, Cerecedo meets with each of his team members in the first weeks of January to set goals for the year ahead: “We talk about their personal and professional goals, and we set a timeline for how we’re going to achieve them.”

Caitlin Bishop is a writer for WeWork’s Ideas by We, based in New York City. Previously, she was a journalist and editor at Mamamia in Sydney, Australia, and a contributing reporter at Gotham Gazette.

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