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How to end the year on a positive note!

By Ruth Tearle

It doesn’t matter what level you are working at – whether you are a CEO, a general manager or a team leader. The end of the year is a time to demonstrate effective leadership. Your task as a leader is to end the year on a positive note and ensure your team is excited about coming back to work in the new year. This article shows you how.

The end of a challenging year.

It is the end of yet another challenging year, and you are feeling quite weary. There have been many changes and challenges that you and your team have had to cope with. And now, as the end of the year approaches, you notice that your team has lost motivation. You want to plan an end of the year meeting or workshop. How do you plan this meeting? What should the objectives of the meeting be? And what would the agenda look like?

What your team needs from you as a leader.

At the end of a year, the leader's main task is to rekindle the flame of motivation in his team.

Your team is also feeling weary at the end of a hard year. They are looking forward to a well earned holiday. As the year end approaches they need to:

  • Feel that their hard work has been noticed and appreciated.
  • Feel that their hard work has been worth the effort.
  • rekindleFeel they can go on holiday knowing they are secure and happy in their jobs – and can have a well deserved rest.
  • Feel that it is worth coming back in the new year. That there is something exciting to come back to.

The leader's objectives for an year-end meeting.

The end of a year is a time for you as a leader to demonstrate 'symbolic leadership. You need to find a practical way to:

  • Thank the team for their hard work during the year.
  • Make them feel appreciated.
  • Get them feeling positive and excited about next year. So they return to work after the holiday motivated and raring to go.

How to plan your meeting.

1. Set up a project team to plan a special end of year event.

Get others involved in the planning. This will build excitement around the event. Give them a budget. Tell them that you want an event that makes your team feel appreciated or even pampered. Encourage them to think of a theme. Then find an appropriate venue, decorate the venue, choose or create gifts or awards. Note that making an event special is not about how much you spend, but rather about the personal touch and care you take in planning the event.

2. Plan for ways to recognize each individual team member.

Together with your project team, plan an awards ceremony. Think of something special that each member of your team has contributed during the year. Write this down on a hand written thank-you note. Choose an appropriate gift or award to accompany the note. Then plan an awards ceremony during which you will publicly recognize each individual for his/her contribution during the year - and hand them their gift and thank-you note.

3. Plan your leaders speech.

In your speech you should provide an overview of where the team was at the start of the year, what challenges they had to overcome as a team, what they achieved, and how proud you are of their achievements. Also, talk about how you intend to build on the foundation they created this year, in the new year.

4. Plan a participative team activity.


Plan an energizing activity for the team. One that gets them feeling proud of what they achieved during the year, and excited about what they can achieve next year. Remember that your team is likely to be weary, so use a right- brained fun activity - one that gets them laughing and playing. For example use one or two of the following activities:

  • Have some acting props handy. Then divide your team into a few groups. Get each group to create and present a play consisting of 3 scenes. Scene 1 is last year. Scene 2 is today. Scene 3 is the end of next year. The characters they act out are themselves, their customers, and you the leader. Let them show the changes that have been made in their play.
  • Bring some special paper and pens. Ask each team member to write a thank-you note for every other team member. In the note they should thank each person for one thing the team member did or meant to them. Let each team member hand out the thank you notes to his team mates. Allow time for each person to read all their thank-you notes. This can be done in private.
  • Get each person in the team to answer the following questions:
    • What have we achieved as a team this year?
    • What have I achieved personally?
    • What foundations have we built for next year?
    • What will we be able to do next year as a result of these foundations, that we couldn’t do before?

unleash the magic cards5. Plan some magic to end off the session.

Give each person a set of "Unleash the magic within you cards." Let each person choose his/her favorite card from the pack. The card they choose will usually be something that motivates them. Get them to read the card to the group, and then talk about how they will use the message on the card to make next year, the best year ever - for themselves and for the team.

An agenda for your end of year meeting

  1. Leader's opening address. The leader presents his speech. in a way that sets the tone for the meeting. One of appreciation and recognition.
  2. Participative activities. The group has some fun. The activities build team spirit and encourage the team to recognize and appreciate one another.
  3. Lunch. A special lunch planned with care shows the group you appreciate them.
  4. Award ceremony. You and the project team recognize each individual in the awards ceremony you created.
  5. Ending off with magic. Use the magic cards to get each individual excited about coming back to work in the new year.
  6. Leader's closing address. Thank the team again for their efforts this year, and tell them how much you look forward to working with them again next year.

A final note to you the leader.

Now as a leader you have pampered and cared for your team. It is time to do the same for yourself. Take a well earned break. Pamper yourself. Rest. So that next year, you come back feeling refreshed and energized. Ready and able to take on the challenges that the new year will bring.

You may also like:

  • OD Interventions library A library of 1 and 2 hour activities you can use to spice up your meetings, workshops and conferences.

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