Returning to work after the summer break can be a challenge. An endless to-do list, which seems to have doubled during your absence, accumulated tasks and missed deadlines. You need to respond to the needs of customers, superiors, colleagues, employees and suppliers, to put out fires and to regain control of the situation.
If you follow the traditional path, meaning you return from your holiday and just try to get everything in order as quickly as possible, you will be missing out on a valuable opportunity.
The most vital role of a leader is to have focus, and the most valuable thing you will ever do for your company is to align people with your business’s most important priorities. If you do it well, the organisation will function at maximum productivity and have the greatest possible impact.
But this is not easy.
It’s hard enough for any of us to stay focused and aligned with our goals. But when it comes to an entire organisation, aligning the entire team is much more challenging.
In a translation company like M21Global, where accuracy and clarity are vital, the challenge is even greater. Clear and effective communication is key. We know that every word counts and that alignment is crucial not only in terms of language, but also culture and context.
However, every now and then, the perfect opportunity arises; a time when everything is a little easier, when you have the opportunity to be a little clearer, when people are more receptive, a time when your message will be particularly effective.
Returning from holidays is one of those opportunities.
After being away from the daily routine for a while, with a fresh mind and a rested body, when people in the company have not heard from you for some time, and some of them may also have been on holiday themselves, the atmosphere is calm. People are more available and more receptive to influence than usual.
Don’t waste this opportunity trying to manage your email inbox and your to-do list. Before responding to any email, ask yourself these questions:
- What is your top priority for the company right now?
- What will make the biggest difference to the company’s results?
- What behaviours should you encourage to achieve your goals?
- And, perhaps most importantly, what is least important?
As part of this process, it is crucial to distinguish between what is ‘important’ and what is a ‘priority’. While important tasks are those that have value and need to be done, priority tasks are those that must be done immediately because they have a direct and significant impact on the company’s objectives. We also often confuse what is urgent with what is a priority. Urgency is often dictated by deadlines, while priority is determined by alignment with the company’s strategic objectives.
Adding to it is the fact that tasks that are less important are often neither urgent nor a priority. These are tasks that, in essence, do not significantly impact the company’s objectives and can even disrupt alignment with them. Identifying and minimising these tasks can be key to keeping the company focused and efficient.
The goal when answering these questions is to choose about three or four priorities that will make the biggest difference for the company. Once you’ve identified them, you should spend 95 % of your energy moving forward with those priorities.
How to do it?
- Be very clear about your priorities. Write them down and choose your words carefully. Read them out loud. Do you feel articulate? Concise? Clear? Useful? Will they be a useful guide for people when they are making decisions and taking action?
- Use them as a lens through which you view – and filter – every decision, conversation, request, task and email that you need to deal with. When someone makes a request or asks you to make a decision, say something like: ‘Given that we’re trying to achieve X, it makes sense to do Y’.
Will the email you’re about to respond to reinforce your priorities? Will it create momentum in the right direction? If so, respond in a way that deepens the alignment and clarifies the focus, linking the response as closely as possible to one or more of the priorities you have defined. If you look at an email and can’t find a clear way to link it to the organisation’s top priorities, move on to the next email. Don’t be afraid to sideline issues that don’t relate to your priorities. It all comes down to having focus, and in order to focus on some things, you’ll have to ignore others.
Take advantage of this opportunity: a rare moment when your main role and most difficult task – focusing and refocusing the company – becomes a little easier. Don’t waste it. Returning from a holiday is not just a matter of putting everything in order, it’s about going further.
Which leads us to ask, how aligned is your Company? And how important is this alignment?
All leaders know that their companies must be aligned. They know that their strategies, organisational capabilities, resources and management systems must all be aligned to support the company’s purpose. The difficulty is that leaders sometimes tend to focus on just some of these areas, to the exclusion of others.
Alignment is more than having a clear and well-communicated strategy. It is ensuring that the chosen strategy is the right one, that it is being executed effectively and that the company has the necessary skills and tools to execute it.
It is not an end in itself, but a continuous process of adjustment and refinement. It is fundamental to business performance. The most aligned companies outperform their competitors on almost every performance metric, from customer satisfaction to profitability.
Business alignment is not just a strategy, but a vital necessity to ensure an organisation’s prosperity and resilience. The post-holiday return to work is the perfect time to reflect, reevaluate and realign the company’s goals and objectives. Take advantage of this period of fresh start and renewal to ensure that the company and its team are in sync and focused on the right priorities. Remember that a well-aligned company is synonymous with success, efficiency, and satisfaction for both employees and customers.
In this context, it is important to highlight the crucial role of a translation company such as M21Global. The ability to communicate effectively in multiple languages and cultural contexts is a form of alignment in itself. A translation company, with its unique expertise, ensures that an organisation’s message is understood and resonates in global markets. Clarity, precision and cultural sensitivity are key to achieving alignment on an international scale.
Companies that can achieve and maintain their alignment have a significant competitive advantage. They are more agile, more responsive, and better able to adapt to change. And these are the companies that are more likely to thrive.