Back to school

Getting ready for the final part of the year

After the summer break, you might be experiencing that ‘back to school’ feeling. Schools get back into a new rhythm, so how about us? As team members return from their summer break and work routines return, it can be a good time to take stock and consider what you want to focus on for the remainder of the year.

September is a good time to get organised for the rest of 2022. I’ve therefore collated some ideas, thoughts and tips to help you.

Looking back

First, take a look back to January 2022 and the months leading to September.

  • What’s gone well?
  • What’s been difficult?
  • What effect has the pandemic had on the mindset and practices of team members?
  • What learning can you take from how the pandemic has changed working practices?
  • What do you want to retain as we (hopefully) emerge from it? What do you want to change?

Looking forward

In order to decide where to focus in the next four months, now scan your environment (externally and internally).

Externally (within the business)

  • What’s currently happening in the business?
  • What will the business require of you in the next few months?
  • What are the pressure points and stresses where you can add value?
  • What do your people/colleagues need from you?

Internally (you)

  • Where do you want to be by the end of 2022?
  • What tangible deliverables do you want to have accomplished?
  • How do you want your work (and personal) relationships to be?
  • How do you want your personal brand to be perceived, within the organisation you’re part of, across the company, and among your leadership team?
  • What readiness do you need for 2023 and beyond, and how can you get yourself into a good position to achieve that?

Remember the big picture

Reaffirm the purpose of your function. Why does it exist? What’s your North Star? Has it changed?

This helps you identify which are the most important actions (not just the most urgent ones) and determine the deliverables for your team to focus on.

What work needs to be done, and how should people collaborate/innovate to deliver that?

New ways of working

Many companies are now starting to encourage a return to the office – some are mandating certain days whilst others leave it to each function to decide for themselves.

Are you and your team back in the office? Working remotely at home or from a hammock on a desert island? Or is it a hybrid blend? Maybe you lead a global team who’ve never been in the same office or timezone?

What effect does this have on your team and how you (and they) work with other teams? How can you enable everyone to be equally included and effective when some are in the office and some are not? Can you identify which types of work can be done remotely and which require attendance?

Do you let people work when, where and how it suits them?

Remember the open-plan office is not productive for everyone. Some of the best thinkers have said solitude is essential.

“Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.”
Pablo Picasso

Remote meetings encouraged broader participation through the use of chat and electronic tools for everyone to post ideas and opinions. Video calls levelled the playing field. People who might be quiet in a face-to-face meeting were able to contribute via the chat function or through electronic brainstorming tools where everyone can share their thoughts, perhaps anonymously.

How can you continue this inclusivity when people are back in the office and the more outspoken team members may dominate the more reflective ones?

How can you reenergise people to come back into the workplace? A lot of care can be required here. For ideas on this, see my article New Model for Office Working.

Dress code

With home-working, people have become more casual. They are forgiving of technical issues and unreliable broadband. Work has been more informal. More human, you could say.

This might mean you relax the workplace dress code so people ‘dress for their day’. Dress up if seeing clients or giving a presentation, otherwise, it’s OK to dress down. Perhaps not in slippers though!

Meetings governance

Remote working has driven a reduction in the length of meetings. What were once 60-minute meetings are now often 30-minute meetings. Consider what’s working and what is missing. Can you be just as efficient in less time or are you missing a deeper level of insight through shortening discussions? Are ideas still coming through?

Decision-making governance

Are you delegating decisions to the lowest level (as is established best practice)?


As we move to more agile ways of working, do your people have to follow set processes which include too much detail and remove their power to think? Is there something you can do to transform that?

Stakeholder relationships

Identify/refresh your understanding of the stakeholders you partner with. What frequency and quality of contact should you have with them? Are there any relationships you ought to dial up and invest more time in?

Your people/colleagues

How are they doing? What motivates them? What do they need from you? What do they need from each other?

Are they stronger since the pandemic, or has it left them feeling drained and bruised? Many people have rethought what they want from their work and life. Have their career ambitions changed? Has their personal purpose evolved? Is it still in line with the purpose of the organisation?

Are they on track with their personal development? (If not, I can help with that.)


How has the pandemic affected the culture of the organisation and the team you are part of? Is it where you want it to be? Are your people still invested?

Put simply, culture can be defined as “how things are done around here”.  So, how has the pandemic affected this? What works and what isn’t productive and/or feeling good? Now would be a good time to facilitate a conversation with your team about this, so you are all consciously defining and then role modelling how you want to be.


Don’t let the grass grow under your feet. Things are constantly changing and you need to change too. You have to continually scan your environment and take stock of where you’re at and where you’re going. Sometimes this will involve evolution, sometimes revolution.

Don’t sleepwalk back to how things used to be before the pandemic. This is your chance to ‘press pause’. Take a conscious look at what mindset and practices will be most effective to take you to the year-end and beyond.

Related reading

For more on this, please see my articles:

Next month

How to navigate life’s transitions.