Those of you who know me have likely heard me quote “Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail” at some point in our conversations. Thank you, Ben Franklin!

When we talk about planning, it’s important that we aren’t just thinking about steps that lead to the creation of an actual “plan” like a strategic plan, succession plan, communication plan, etc. These are critical- but there is also a softer side to planning that is equally important. This involves prioritizing people and taking steps to set your team up for success.

During the last week of the year as you are in planning mode, I encourage you to prioritize these 5 things- focusing on your staff, board, communication, engagement, and YOU.

1. Express gratitude. Who doesn’t love receiving a thank you? This time of year, nonprofits are busy asking, which is certainly important, but don’t forget how important it is to say thank you. In addition to thanking donors, think about your staff, volunteers (including board members!), community partners, and others that have worked alongside you throughout the year. Mail a handwritten note, drop off cookies, pick up the phone, do something creative and authentic to express your gratitude.

2. Get your board and staff energized for the New Year. When you get buried in budgeting, policy, and planning, it can be hard to shift gears. But this is an important time to reconnect with your staff and board to reaffirm priorities for 2022. Take some time to gather the staff for a coffee date and ask everyone to share their successes this year and areas they want to grow in the year ahead. Send an email to the board to highlight the specific ways they contributed to your organizational success this year, share stories of impact, and communicate the ways their leadership is critical to furthering your mission in the year ahead.

3. Create a 2022 calendar and distribute it to board and staff. Get your team prepared for meeting, events, and other commitments in 2022. Draft a calendar with important dates and distribute to the team. This sounds so simple, but it sends a powerful message that you respect the time of others and that you have prioritized the importance of these events.

4. Dedicate time to YOU. If you have time off during the last two weeks of the year, HONOR IT and encourage your team to do the same. We all know a powerful way to protect against burnout is taking real time away from the office to reconnect with other things that bring us joy.

5. Start. Stop. Continue. This is a practice I started long ago and use it in place of traditional New Year resolutions. Think about the things you would like to START in the New Year to further growth and propel your mission forward. What should you STOP doing? What was time consuming and didn’t prove productive? Eliminate it. What do you need to CONTINUE doing in 2022 to inch you closer to goal achievement? This is a great exercise individually and for your team. I love this because it is energizing, encourages reflection, and creates intentional action.

I invite you to embrace the last few weeks of the year with energy and hope. If you would like to dig deeper and have a conversation focused on people, communication, and building a strong team, let’s chat. Wishing you all a healthy, happy, and successful 2022!

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