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Forget the Year-end Madness for a Moment to Breathe and Reflect

In the classic film “Groundhog Day,” TV weatherman Phil (played by Bill Murray) relives the same day over and over again in the small town of Punxsutawney, P.A. He initially spends his time either distracted, frustrated or amused by the sudden monotony of life. It’s only until he begins thinking outside the box, embracing ways different than his own and refocusing his efforts, that he can finally break the time loop and start the next day anew.

I think this is the perfect metaphor for organizations approaching a new year full of new possibilities. Many continue to do the same things expecting different results. Others, meanwhile, have implemented strategies geared only toward what they think will be successful (not what customers or employees really want). Then there are those that rest on their laurels with no indication of change to meet evolving needs and preferences.

This is precisely why the key themes of “Groundhog Day”—self-awareness, introspection and redemption—resonate at the enterprise level. The good news is that, unlike Bill Murray’s character, business leaders never have to worry about there not being a tomorrow. There will always be a new day ahead, yet it’s critical that time is effectively spent to drive desired customer and business outcomes. This is especially true with the onset of a new year, where ambitions and realignment efforts count the most.

Leaders and decision-makers should at some point step away from the year-end madness to think strategically and intentionally about their business plans over the next 12 months. That means reflecting on 2018 efforts in line with 2019 strategies for innovation, growth, culture, and customer and employee experience:

-How do you plan to disrupt the paradigm in 2019?

-How are you currently meeting, or falling short of, customer expectations and preferences?

-What tactics or methodologies can you embrace next year to drive better results?

Feeling overwhelmed? Consider a sampling of organizations’ top focus areas for 2019:

Holistic employee wellness: The definition of “wellness” is expanding far beyond physical health to include such things as financial education, general family support and mental health. As such, we’re seeing a transition from segmented employee care to programs that aim to meet the needs of the whole individual. Consider a survey from benefits and HR services provider, Sequoia, in which 77% of companies cited the need for 2019 program expansion to include emotional wellbeing and 53% financial wellbeing.

Overcoming organizational barriers: Corporate roles are rapidly evolving and blurring organizational lines. CMOs, for example, now have vast responsibilities far beyond traditional marketing and likewise the CIO beyond IT. Traditional lines of business must similarly expand their reach, collaborating on strategies and measurable impact organization-wide. In addition to evolving corporate responsibilities is mindset; driving sustainable organizational change requires changing behavioral patterns and attitudes that have been instilled for years, perhaps even decades. 2019 is slated for significant headway in this area.

Maintaining service value: 2018 was a year of aggressive transformation for meeting next-gen customer experience: advanced technologies, dynamic engagement tactics, and more. Yet along their race to “wow” and win loyalty, some companies have overlooked the very basics of exceptional customer experience. A recent report from Accenture, for example, found that although companies have invested in exciting new service technologies only 7% are actually exceeding customer expectations. You can’t forget the basics, period. Consider this list of classic guest experience ideas for hospitality leaders in 2019.

Without compromising year-end performance, find time to breathe deep and think conceptually about organizational efforts. You can consider one of the above priorities or any other prerogative specific to your business; just make time for what matters most. Similarly, challenge yourself in whatever way works best for you; be it thinking beyond the realm of possibility, assuming an alternative point of view or wiping the slate clean to think objectively about your efforts.

Tomorrow will always offer a fresh start, but we must make every day count. If you’re in hospitality, here are some great resources for 2019 strategic planning:

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