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Team Readiness In Q4 Will Help CEOs Turn The Page In 2024

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To avoid a repeat of 2023, take definitive action now to prepare your core teams to meet next year’s objectives.

In the current business environment, most leaders understand the benefits of convening core team members at moments of transformative change. When a merger, buyout or reorganization materializes, there’s accepted wisdom that in-person group meetings best ensure alignment and trust with organizations and individuals—moving people forward in unison toward collective success.

Coming to the surface is the reality that these moments don’t just occur when businesses mark rare institutional milestones. A new fiscal or calendar year—with refreshed strategy and budget updates—can also necessitate team readiness work, especially amidst long periods of uncertainty.

In Q4, top executives engaged in budget planning would be wise to also focus on strategically aligning and preparing their teams to succeed in 2024, helping their enterprises leave behind the morass that characterized much of 2023 and rewrite the script for the New Year.

Economic doldrums risk extending institutional stagnation

For most organizations, 2023 has been unusually challenging. Leaders have been anticipating forecasted recessions and recoveries amidst interest rate hikes, persistent inflation and a labor market that has remained tight across sectors. The lengthy wait for conditions to change—either for the worse or the better—has led to stagnation and paralysis, preventing organizations from readying and aligning their people around decisive, forward-thinking plans.

To illustrate, the CEO Confidence Index, a monthly survey conducted by Chief Executive, has shown that CEOs have and continue to deem the market environment as decidedly mediocre. In the most recent poll, nine out of 10 said they expect economic conditions in 2024 to either be flat (30 percent) or negative (58 percent) in 2024.

Despite the lack of clarity surrounding when these economic doldrums will end, CEOs would be wise to take definitive action now to prepare their core teams to meet next year’s objectives in order to avoid a repeat of 2023.

Success isn’t found solely in a spreadsheet 

Decades of research has shown that teams can help drive revenue and growth when properly focused on individual roles and aligned on big-picture objectives. Yet people too often take a back seat to spreadsheets when companies tackle the critical work of preparing for the forthcoming year.

This comes as no surprise given the demands of budget season. In preparing achievable and approvable business plans, executives often focus on looking “up” rather than “across” their organizations, meaning they take their eyes off the need for team readiness and optimization efforts that will be crucial to deliver results.

Too often, such gaps lead to missed opportunities. For example, organizations set their budgets but don’t cultivate a clear, up-to-date vision and narrative that aligns the efforts of their executives, ultimately slowing their progress. What’s more, they turn a blind eye to conflicts, dysfunction, and underlying tensions that not only lead to underperformance but put overarching priorities in jeopardy.

On the flip side, teams that complement their budget planning with team readiness can better hit the ground running with the alignment and trust that enables quick decision-making and agile, high-performing execution.

Team readiness done right

While the work of optimizing the people side of organizations has long been recognized as a distinct, highly data-driven field, many leaders continue to approach this crucial business area using just their own gut-level instincts. This inevitably leads to missed opportunities and, sometimes, significant organizational setbacks.

While it’s best to engage experts in this area, leaders seeking to advance people readiness in Q4 can best approach the work using a couple of guiding principles:

• Alignment. Alignment. Alignment. When teams are working at cross purposes, it’s overwhelmingly caused by a lack of alignment among the top three leadership levels. This can often be remedied in curated group sessions designed to discuss and/or refine elements like company vision and narrative, keeping in mind alignment is far more difficult for organizations to achieve in rocky economic climates.

• Rigor and intentionality are a must. Efforts to prepare teams for success in 2024 should not be attempted “on the fly” but approached and executed with the same rigor and intentionality that go into almost all strategic business functions. Companies should thus avoid merely adding this effort as an aside to their planned gatherings during the holiday season.

• Conflicts are best prepared for, not avoided. Teams working in high-stakes environments will inevitably experience conflict. The best readiness efforts don’t eliminate these issues but help individuals consider and agree to how they will best deal with them when they, in fact, emerge and require attention.

• People are not machinery. Individuals are endlessly complex and unpredictable—sometimes error-prone and volatile, especially in times of stress. They must be understood and treated as such versus systems able to simply receive input and deliver results.

As leaders look to turn the page on a challenging year, they would be wise to prioritize the essential human capital capabilities that serve as the real institutional differentiators and value-creating levers. Those that do so—greenlighting team readiness in Q4—will be most able to launch into 2024 with momentum, capitalize on the opportunities ahead, and secure a material competitive edge.


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