The business world seems to have woken up in the last 48 hours. It's September, the schools have re-opened and people are sleepwalking back to work after a summer break. But just because we are physically back-at-work, it doesn't mean we are all mentally and emotionally there - the lights are on, but nobody is home in many cases.
Not convinced? Many manufacturing companies find the highest safety issues occur in September, as people return with heads full of 'happier times' (or unhappy ones if you've been entertaining a gaggle of children for six weeks solid) and their eye off the ball work-wise. Even if we aren't suffering from the post-summer blues, we may be a bit out of practice and needing to re-engage the muscle of focus.
Some of the best organisations see September as the ideal time to stoke up the energy of their people; to refocus and galvanise. Colleagues and managers that care about performance will already be intentionally working to ensure the back-to-work low is as brief as possible. Line managers, in particular, can make a massive difference to the way their people feel about re-engaging after a great summer, so rise to the challenge and make September the high point of others peoples' year - reconnect and give them the gift of your time. Here's a starter for ten:
1. Re-connect with others and clarify priorities
Ignore the overflowing inbox and start by re-clarifying the big priorities for September for your team and yourself. Be clear about what you're going to have achieved by the end of the month and what personal growth and value you'll have gained.
2. Share reflections from the summer
Ask yourself, and others, what did you learn, who did you meet that you want to stay connected with, what inspiration did you gather? It's all too easy to feel inspired as you have a social conversation with someone over the dinner table in the sun, but forget about it once you're back in the office.
3. Change your environment
Give yourself a lift by changing your working environment a little. Add a new plant, paint a wall, turn your chair to face a different direction. Have your meetings with others standing up or walk with colleagues to grab a coffee more often. Make a change that feels good and energising.
4. Give the gift of time
We can all help others to re-engage at work by giving each other the most special gift of all; time. This is particularly key if you manage others. Schedule catch up sessions with every one of your people within the next week. Think about what will remind them that they are valued. Maybe it's as simple as saying thank you for keeping a project going while you were away...
5. Surround yourself with the energy givers, not zappers
Fill your diary with meetings and catch-ups with the people and projects that will make you feel good about being back at work - and minimize the time spent with those people that drain you. If you've got the post-holiday blues, the chances are, you aren't the only one, so make yourself an energy 'giver' and not a zapper.
That's my starter for ten - I can't guarantee it won't stop a health and safety incident, but it should help you jump the hurdle of autumn apathy. Also, keep in mind; we are only 16 weeks away from Christmas.