But be careful, not everyone had a wonderful Christmas.
Some people hate the festive season because there’s nothing to be festive about. For many, Christmas time is an ordeal, just a whole bunch of memories they’d like to forget or people they’ve lost who they are struggling to remember. So be gentle as you host your first meetings of the year. Listen and get to understand everyone again, before you assume that everyone had as wonderful a time as you did. Re-connect, re-engage, find out where they are at.
Then again, some of you might have had exhausting ‘festive’ seasons.
It’s difficult to switch off when you are in the C-Suite, you might have left the office behind, but you haven’t left the business. Everything; staffing, worries – personal and professional - will all have been churning over in your head, as you think of what went wrong and what went right in 2022 and what you can do in 2023 to make it better.
If your financial year ends in February, you might be coming back to the office with a bit of a mountain to climb if you are still to meet your targets and unlock that bonus. It’s tough.
So, what can you do about it? Well, remember charity starts at home; you need to show the energy – even if you’re actually feeling exhausted – so that the rest of the team can tap into that.
Showing that energy means looking after yourself. Think about your next break, plan it for March or April when the new financial year is in its infancy and the plans (and the budget) have all been accepted, the teams briefed and on their way. Commit to ensuring that you develop yourself this year. It’s all very well ensuring that your subordinates and junior managers all have coaches and mentors and have signed up for new courses, but what are you doing for yourself?
It’s not enough anymore to graduate from university and then think what you achieved 10, 20 or even 30 years ago is still enough. Things change; knowledge changes and the landscape changes. Don’t be the dinosaur grazing on the side only to discover that the jungle has gone when you look up. You don’t have to do another degree necessarily, but an MBA does help. What you do need to do is to attend courses and workshops to keep you current, but most of all, to keep you inspired.
You will need examples of those kinds of continuous learning on your CV if you need to apply for another job, which brings me to my next point. I have met a lot of executives recently who are really miserable in their jobs and they are hanging in there until February because they don’t want to lose any bonus they might be entitled to. I understand that. It’s very sad, but it’s not the end of the world; harness your anger and your bitterness into an action plan, rather than just bitching about how bad your boss/company/colleague is. Turn your lemons into lemonade.
Holding onto your job at least until the end of February, means you can get yourself in the best possible shape to hustle for your dream job from March onwards. Then start dusting off the CV and hustling to get your name known in the marketplace.
There are jobs available, I noticed the start of the uptick in October. People with scarce skills will always be in demand, and there is work out there for C-suite candidates and senior executives but with a difference. It was starting to happen before the pandemic but now it’s becoming far more commonplace that companies want their C-suite candidates to come in on fixed-term contracts rather than unlimited tenure.
The advantages of a fixed-term contract far outweigh the disadvantages, especially if you are a self-starter and ambitious – which you should be at this level. Many companies are actually bringing specialised people on board on short-term contracts to fix particular problems and they are being upfront about their needs and what they will offer in return. For some candidates, especially those knocking on the door to the C-suite, that’s the promise of accelerated growth.
A two-year stint, being exposed to the various disciplines within a big company, is like managing to pick up the experience you might only normally get in five different jobs, but at a fraction of the time. In other cases, you might never get the opportunity to get that experience so it really does become a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The good companies will tell you as much and say that they are looking at giving you the opportunity with them to prepare yourself to run the company that you go to next, so be on the lookout for those kinds of placements – if that is who you are.
Which of course is the entire point of this note: it’s the beginning of the year, and you literally have your destiny – and possibly the company’s too – in your hands. What are you going to do about it? Your answer depends on how well you know yourself. If you haven’t got that one sorted yet, then that’s where you have to start before you do anything else.
I hope you have a great year.