Extra hours of daylight. Late nights and care-free plans. Vacations and long walks on the beach. True relaxation and family time. I relish the easy days of summer – shifting into the back-to-school grind is tough. For us moms and dads, it means the return of jam-packed schedules and one kid’s activity after the other. It can be just as jarring for us leaders. Not that summer was slower or easier in terms of work responsibilities, but more so that the changing “season” brings on the end-of-year push – to meet growth goals, deliver on objectives, strategize for what’s next.
For many of us, September brings the (unofficial) end. It’s a shock to our system. It can be draining but also exhilarating. Over the course of my life and career, I’ve found several strategies for making the most of the transition time – for minimizing the feelings of stress and being overwhelmed, and leveraging the adrenaline rush to refocus and reprioritize, personally and professionally.
Making the Most of Any Transition
- Realign around your new normal. Acknowledge that fall and winter mean different schedules and expectations – at home and at work. This means getting better at planning and balancing priorities. I spend a lot of time with my calendar, which helps ensure I’m giving people and projects the attention they need and deserve.
- Conduct a time audit. Identify where you’re simply “busy” versus productive. Are you investing valuable time and energy into activities you can/should delegate? This knowledge will help you better control your schedule and find opportunities to delegate. Release yourself from the need to “do it (all) yourself.” You have a talented team; tap into their strengths so you can focus on yours.
- Prioritize wellness (physical and mental). Regular exercise is proven to combat anxiety, depression and insomnia. I’m not a doctor but I know from experience that eating well and sleeping well improves my overall mood and ability to focus.
- Set reasonable, realistic boundaries and honor them. Do you want to be home for dinner every night? Be in the bleachers for your kids’ games? Make it happen. If you take to heart each of the above tips, there’s no reason why you can’t make work and life work for you – and your team (boss included).
Setting Yourself (and Others) Up for Success Before Day 1
My kids just went back to school this week, but my shift out of “summer mode” happened more than a month ago. August required my full attention at work, setting and implementing the onboarding strategy for my company’s new executive vice president. His official first day was August 26, though preparation for his transition (and his predecessor’s departure) has been in the works for some time. It’s not a simple, off-the-shelf process or short-term strategy; to set him – and all of us at RMS – up for success from day one requires careful planning and integrated, multi-tiered communications, from video scripts and bio edits, to site visit coordination and event management. It’s early days for his new role, but instead of everyone (including him) feeling full of questions, there’s an air of understanding and excitement around his arrival and vision for our organization. And that matters a lot.
Reframing the Conversation Around Communication
It’s also made me think more about what I do for a living and why I’m so passionate about it. Over the next few months, I plan to take a closer look at the importance and value of business communication – specifically how the perception but also the reality of what I do, how and why, has changed over the course of my career, including:
The Rise of Business Communications—It’s More Important Than You Think
Today, strategic communication is critical to business success, but it wasn’t always deemed so valuable. It’s not just words; it’s the totality of any company’s actions, culture and identity. The role of communications is evolving; and it’s never been more important to brand reputation, risk management, employee engagement, investor confidence and community relations.
Redefining the Role of the Corporate Communicator
In the past, communicators were siloed, expected to produce “stuff” with relatively unknown or little-proven value to the bottom-line. Today’s savviest and most successful companies leverage communicators as strategic partners, not one-off publishers. For good reason, the lines between communications leaders and leaders of other functions like HR and operations are blurring.
The New Rules of Business Communications
Communications will continue to evolve, but its place – and value – as a strategic piece of business success is set. But the changes have brought about “new rules” for how corporate communications can do their part to ensure the value of their work and their teams. What’s next?