As business owners and managers, we avoid making goals as we tend to have a bias towards ‘being busy’. So long as we’re doing something, we’re not just happy, we feel useful and productive. But by taking this approach it can be easy to end up down the wrong path, simply working for the sake of it and never really achieving what we set out to achieve in the first place.

As a business owner myself, I know there’s a great advantage in sitting back and taking some time out to analyse where we’re headed – particularly at this time of year. As the year draws to a close, I thought I’d share with you how to set your goals.

1. Set aside some time

The first thing to do is to block our time for reflection – preferably half a day or even a day. It’s your choice whether you want to do this alone or reflect as part of a team (there are merits in both approaches).

I also think it’s important to put some distance between yourself and the office and go offsite. This doesn’t mean you have to be extravagant, but  I feel that it’s a good idea to clear the mind and spend some time in a neutral location, where the energy and stresses of the workplace are left behind. If you’re taking people along for your reflection session, it’s also more likely that a change of scenery will make people feel more comfortable about speaking openly.

2. Start with the positives

As business owners and managers, we’re usually the problem solvers, meaning we can look through the negative scope. I think it can be useful to begin by looking at what went right over the past 12 months. Call out your wins from the year and have a think about why they were so successful. Was it your processes? The talent of individual team members? Or even the type of work or project you undertook?

3. Consider what didn’t work

Only once you’ve looked at the positives, then it’s appropriate to analyse those things that didn’t quite go to plan. It’s important to note that it’s not about pinning blame on people or looking for excuses, it’s about analysing your mistakes and what you can learn from them.

If you’re undergoing this task as a team, let people have their say on why they think someone might’ve worked and why something didn’t. Here, it’s important not to be too quick to judge but to let them speak freely and openly. That way you may find you have competing narratives that can help you uncover the real truth.

4. Apply the lessons you’ve learned

Next up, it’s time to think about how these lessons can apply to the next 12 months and beyond. Are there any trends you spotted or problems that keep arising? Do you need to change your processes? Perhaps you need to hire new staff or juggle people around? You might need to institute a new workplace policy or undertake some training. Whilst there’s no need to commit to anything right now, just having the ideas and allowing them to turn over in your mind is great exercise.

5. Set your goals for next year

The main reasons you shouldn’t commit is because the next thing you need to do is to set your goals for the next 12 months. These shouldn’t be mere resolutions such as “make more money” but concrete objectives such as “increase revenue by $150,000 by gaining two new clients in x sector”. Some of these goals are likely to come about as a direct result of your reflection in steps 1 to 4.

But, perhaps even more importantly, your reflection on last year’s successes and challenges can help you devise how you’re going to achieve the goals you’ve set. For instance, if you’ve identified a mistake in the way you worked last year, your planned improvements can be worked into your roadmap for achieving that target.

6. Don’t overwhelm yourself

Finally, it’s important to remember that you can’t do everything at once. As they say, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. Choose two-to-four goals that really matter to you, your employees and your business. Make sure that these goals can propel you towards your end target and have the best possible outcome for everyone involved. By doing so, you’ll be giving yourself a better chance of succeeding and that means you’re also giving yourself a better chance of getting to where you ultimately want to be.

If you’re a business owner feel free to reach out to me if you want to discuss goal setting, planning for 2020 or if you need any human resources advice.

Otherwise, have a wonderful holiday break and see you all in 2020.

The office Christmas party is an important event for any workplace. And, from a human resources perspective, it can boost morale and encourage teamwork. It’s a chance for colleagues to let their hair down together, celebrate the year and socialise in a different setting. It’s an opportunity for you, as an employer, to show your appreciation and recognition for all the employee’s hard work. But get the staff party wrong, and it can leave you out of pocket, with a potentially damaged workplace culture.

With that in mind, here are five mistakes we see employers commit when it comes to the office Christmas party. Not only will we go through them, but also compare these mistakes to a real-life case study – Drake & Bird v BHP.

HR Mistake 1: Not communicating expectations

If you’re an employer or manager, you won’t want to come across as the ‘fun police’. However, you do need to remind employees they’ll be representing the organisation. Even when it’s party time, when it’s offsite and if they organise the party themselves.

That’s what the Fair Work Commission (FWC) found in Drake & Bird v BHP, in which two BHP workers were sacked over their behaviour at their workplace Christmas party. In Drake & Bird v BHP, the workers argued that because they organised the event and not management – and because it was held at the local bowling club open to the general public – it wasn’t a BHP function so the company code of conduct didn’t apply. However, the FWC wasn’t convinced. It found that because the co-worker’s behaviour was inappropriate, and BHP’s reputation was at stake, the party counted as work.

HR Mistake 2: Serving unlimited alcohol

It’s a simple fact that almost every office Christmas party that can end in disaster begins with alcohol. That’s what happened in Drake & Bird v BHP, where both workers – as well as the supervisor they allegedly assaulted – were all heavily under the influence of alcohol.

If you’re offering an open bar, this needs to be monitored. For example, have an open bar for just a set period of time or give employees redeemable tickets.

HR Mistake 3: Having no social media policy

Unfortunately, ‘what happens at the office Christmas party’ often ‘doesn’t stay at the office Christmas party’. Social media has made it even more accessible for people to capture what’s happening there and then. In doing so, there’s the potential to damage the reputation of your employees and your business.

It’s imperative, from a human resources perspective, that you let employees know your expectations of them. To be frank, it’s worth considering a social media blanket ban. Otherwise, go old school and have an official photographer. Then limit your social media posts to these pictures.

Interestingly, while social media didn’t play any part in the Drake & Bird decision, the FWC was critical of one employee’s decision to take ‘selfies’ of the supervisor’s injuries rather than using the ‘old school’ method of taking him to a doctor for assessment – another symptom of the digital age.

HR Dilemma 4: Becoming too involved

With the music blaring and the drinks flowing, it’s all too easy to kick back and relax too much. All too often, in casual environments like office parties, employees and management can let their guard down.

In the Drake & Bird case, for instance, the two workers sacked for fighting, had used the occasion to tell the supervisor – who was part of another team – that he didn’t belong at the event, using inappropriate language in the process. It pays to remember that ultimately office parties are still a professional event. Keep it that way by staying professional yourself and don’t get involved in office gossip.

HR Dilemma 5: Assuming they’re protected

Based on what you’ve read so far you’d probably think it’s safe to assume that the usual workplace rules apply at the office Christmas party and if someone chooses to behave in an inappropriate manner, then you’re in a position to exercise your power and potentially dismiss them. But in truth, you can’t. In fact, it can be murky waters to navigate.

In Drake & Bird, the FWC concluded that BHP was fine to dismiss one of the two men but it found that the other shouldn’t have been sacked. It noted that his action – an intoxicated verbal stoush in front of 90 people and a scuffle – was worthy of sanction but there was no valid reason to actually terminate his employment. In particular, there was no concrete evidence that he was violent.

In another recent decision, the FWC also ruled that construction giant Boral, acted wrongly when it decided to sack an employee who misbehaved at an office Christmas party. The accused employee allegedly propositioned colleagues and behaved inappropriately throughout the course of the evening. However, the FWC found that the worker should have been counselled and that terminating his employment, was a step too far. One factor that weighed in the employee’s favour was that Boral had provided a free and open bar and that the accused gentleman had committed most of his indiscretions once he’d left the office Christmas party.

Party appropriately, don’t party hard

In short, the office Christmas party can become an HR grey area when not managed properly. And, if mismanaged, can land you in hot water, leaving you open for liability and damaging both morale and reputation. If you’d like advice around this, then reach out to the Catalina Consultants team today.