After a nice holiday relaxing with friends and family, heading back to work is a daunting task that makes even the most enthusiastic employees pray for a snow day. A new year meeting is a meeting with the entire team that occurs shortly after everyone returns from holidays. A new year meeting can shake off the new year nerves, reacquaint coworkers, and align the entire team on the company mission and goals for the upcoming year.
But where to begin? In this post, we’ll share the benefits of a new year meeting and cover some team meeting ideas for new years so that you and your team can start the year on the best possible note.
Everything is so busy right before the holidays. Tensions are high, and people have their minds elsewhere—namely, on their upcoming holiday! After a long year, your team is ready for a break.
With all that energy and excitement bouncing off the walls, it’s understandable for team members (and managers 😉) to feel scattered, which makes year-end meetings challenging, regardless of whether or not your team is meeting in person or over Zoom. All hands meetings are difficult to organize to begin with, and that difficulty is compounded when your employees already have one foot out the door.
Although we do recommend end-of-year team meetings, a new year meeting can get your team off on the right start. It will refocus the team on what’s most important and provide much needed team building as you go into the new year.
The benefits of a new year meeting:
Follow our Meeting Agenda Guide to learn more about the importance of meeting agendas and how you can best utilize them.
It’s been a while since the whole team was together. Set aside a small portion of time at the beginning of the meeting for icebreakers. This is especially important for remote teams who don’t get as many opportunities to connect with their coworkers. You’re a team, not a group of strangers, and it’s important to recognize and celebrate that fact before going into another year of hard work that’s going to require team members to collaborate and communicate effectively.
You could start by asking team members how they spent their holidays, but opening the meeting this way could intimidate the more introverted members of your team and allow those who are more extroverted to dominate the conversation. Icebreakers, on the other hand, put everyone on even ground and give everyone an opportunity to express themselves and let their hair down. If anyone is new to the team, icebreakers also create a warm, low-stress environment for new hires to introduce themselves.
Icebreakers can be simple games—really, any light activity that provides a little fun and gets the team to open up, such as two truths and a lie, pancakes vs. waffles, and much more.
💡 Discover some fun ways to engage your team with our Virtual Team Building Activities Round-Up.
Is anyone new to the team? Is there anyone who didn’t get a proper introduction at the end of the year? Are there team members who haven’t had a chance to work together yet? No matter the current familiarity of your team, a new year meeting is the perfect opportunity to get everyone up to speed on who everyone is and what their role is within the company.
Are there any company updates that the team should be aware of right away, such as new clients to expect, changes to company procedures, or new technology?
Remember that transparency will be appreciated and valued by the team. It’s far better to be upfront and direct with your team about any upcoming changes than it is to keep them in the dark. Keeping important developments from your team breeds gossip and speculation, which, in turn, erodes team trust and morale.
Use your new year staff meeting to introduce new team members and update the entire team about what they can expect from the coming year.
New year meetings also provide a chance for the entire team to reflect on the previous year. What are some wins, losses, and curveballs that the team shared in or had to navigate? What went well? What could have gone better? What lessons from the previous year can you take into the new one?
You’re all in this together, so it’s important to acknowledge the tough times, celebrate wins, and bid farewell to the previous year as a team.
New year staff meetings also provide an opportunity for continuous feedback. Ensure the team is engaged in the meeting and that communication is a two-way street. Use the team’s reflections on the past year to generate ideas for the new year. What do you need from your team? What does your team need from you?
📚 Read our Guide to Giving Constructive Feedback.
In order for real improvements to be realized, every single team member must have a chance to have their voice, opinion, and ideas heard.
But without proper organization, a free-for-all of ideas and feedback can overwhelm the meeting. Engagement and open communication are essential, but the ideas expressed must result in tangible action items. In order to give your team’s ideas some structure, utilize an impact effort matrix, which is designed to help teams align on next steps and prioritize tasks based on what will offer the most impact with the lowest amount of effort.
Instead of hemming and hawing over which ideas should be explored first, an impact effort matrix allows the team to visually pinpoint what action items will bring the most value to your team and clients.
The new year provides a chance for everyone to reset and reevaluate what’s most important to them. It’s a tender time that encourages introspection and reflection. Your team members are likely in the midst of some serious soul searching, which is why it’s vital that you utilize the new year meeting to remind your team why they do what they do and reignite their passion for the work.
Inspire your team by reiterating your company’s mission and values. What function does your business play in the lives of the people you serve? What problems do you solve for your clients and customers? What does your business provide that no one else can? How is each individual member of the team a part of that?
Your team is looking for a direction to take the year. Inspire everyone on your team to put their best foot forward by reminding them of all the good that they do and how essential they are to the organization’s success.
What do you hope the year will look like? Help the team set clear goals that, while challenging, are still realistic and attainable.
This is an opportunity for individuals to set yearly goals and for your various business teams to set goals and targets for the coming year. What goals does the business have as a whole, and how do these align with the goals of each business team?
📚 Learn more: A Better Approach to Goal Setting.
It’s also important to schedule one-on-one meetings with the individuals that make up your team early in the new year. A new year all hands meeting gets the team thinking about goals for the company, but it’s important for employees to set some personal professional goals as well.
Utilize the one-on-one meeting to reestablish or build rapport, offer and receive personal feedback in a safe space, and align on the employee’s professional development goals for the year.
📚 Read Manager’s guide to one-on-one meetings.
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