Confused... Very Confused.

14 December 2021

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You know that feeling when you get to the end of something, and it’s not quite what you thought?

The confusion you feel when you half expect confetti to rain down from the ceiling, and nothing happens.

So, 2021. It just feels confusing.

Sure, I knew lockdowns would happen and Covid would still be a thing. The “new normal” has just become normal and we’ve all (well most of us…) adapted to it quickly. But it’s just confusing (in the same way you look over your shoulder when the confetti doesn’t appear).

It has been one of those years where everything has moved so fast, and so incredibly slow at the same time. 2020 feels like a lifetime ago but we’ve blinked and 2021 is packing its bags, getting ready to walk out the door!

This is the time of year where nostalgia sets in, so let’s reflect on 2021...

What we’ve seen

Businesses boxing on.

These trying times have bought out the best and the worst in people, but one thing is for sure: we are resistant.

It has been heart breaking to see small businesses fall because of Covid (we've seen more struggle this year than we did after the first lockdown). Those who have kept their head above the water have shown strength and determination which is incredibly inspiring.

You've managed so make sure to take a second and pat yourself on the back (I've never met a business owner, me included, who does this enough).

Employees getting ‘wellness’.

This is an interesting one. I think it’s great that people are opening their conversations about mental health and wellness. But. There's big but here.

Not everyone’s mental health is being looked after. For many business owners, more stress is stacked on their shoulders. They've navigated Covid, and now they're working extra hours to cover when the team members take a day off to recharge.

Now I'm not for a second suggesting that team members shouldn't - they 100% should. But we need to look after ourselves as business owners as much as we look after our teams.

Burnout is real and exhausting. Many business owners I've worked with this year have experienced it in one way or another. Lots of it comes from not being able to take a break themselves.

We don't fix this overnight, or by scheduling a holiday in advance. We fix it through slower, deliberate conversations. I've got some thoughts on this here.

What they’ve experienced

And as a result, business owners have found themselves doing more, meaning less time. Which in turn means less control over what they do. Which in turn means less money and more stress.

The harder they work to gain control, the more time they use. They get busier and busier, they hustle and get things done but fundamentally they’re at a standstill.

What I’ve experienced

It went smoothly. It went to hell-in-a-handcart. It went smoothly again. It has been all over the show. Three things stand out above the others.

Firstly, our team stood up. They've hustled to get the work done in face of lockdowns and uncertainty. They've come together as a cohesive unit who bring exceptional energy every day. Creating a team like this has taken time (with a lot of trial and error). What we've got though transforms my days and lightens the load immeasurably.

Secondly, we've had tough decisions to make. Vaccines, staff performance, rehiring, customer selection. We've navigated these through more robust internal discussions. Introducing a formal governance structure has changed the game and held me more accountable.

Finally, we've suffered from the Great Resignation (which, to be honest, isn't a thing - it's just a nice media catch phrase). We've had Government paying crazy wages, which in turn has pushed more into the public sector, gobbling our staffing base. It's hurt and was disruptive. But it's ok. It's not a Great Resignation though - it's just people finding great opportunities, or in other business's cases, just not looking after teams properly in the first place.

I've personally stayed in "the game" through breaks throughout the year. Time away gives me space, space keeps my head in one piece, head in one piece means I bring more energy, leadership, and direction to work.  

2023?

Who knows what it will bring...I don't. I'm not going to even try.

What I do know though is that we need to manage the uncertainty. Balancing it through habits, routines, and accountability. Balance it by knowing where you're heading. I'll balance it through breaks, constantly re-planning, and by being excited about some plans I've personally got for next year. 

How are you going approach it?