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The fall season demands it. So let’s get them ready!

A change of season commands a change in energy. And specifically, the transition from summer to fall may be the most demanding.

Though we always know it’s coming, there’s something jarring about witnessing the long, languid days of summer button themselves into the rigor and structure of fall.

And this year’s transition is more complex and consequential because…well, you know. (Um, yes. That would still be the pandemic).

Weight and ambiguity still pervade the air around us. Working parents, with still-healing battle scars, wade through ongoing uncertainty around back-to-school. Business forecasts and customer behavior remain hard to anticipate. To return or not to return to the office continues to haunt, and burnout, loneliness, and The Great Resignation remain present.

The million-dollar question for leaders right now – at any altitude of an organization – is this:

How can we most effectively balance a shift into high-gear – ensuring the performance, creativity, and commitment to delighting customers – with the compassion, humanity, and community spirit we strive to embody?

I can’t give you the “right” answer (because none exists). But I can offer mine.

We’ve been using the 4P’s (People, Priorities, Practices, and Promises) to facilitate dialog with leaders as they develop their approach to achieving this balance.

If you’re ready to DIY it, then see below for some guidance on how to sequence and structure your own approach.

1. People: Begin here. With your team and colleagues. Business success and customer delight hinge entirely on people being fundamentally OK. They must feel supported, cheered on, equipped with tools and resources to do their most meaningful work.

So, begin this season by just checking in. How are people doing, really? What do they need to feel whole and ready for the ensuing chaos? What can you do to support them? What programs can you point them toward? What boundary can you respect?

A little bit of checking in will earn you a ton of credibility and permission to start notching up that dial.

2. Priorities. We’re talking ruthless. As in – what must you deliver in Q4 of 2021, and what are the critical few projects, actions, or areas of focus that will move you there most efficiently and impactfully?

Place your bets with intention. Get everyone on your team aligned behind said bets. Ensure everyone understands the direction in which you’re collectively rowing the boat – and how each of their individual contributions are furthering your momentum.

This clarity and alignment are gold. Harness them fully to get your team excited and bought into the direction you’re heading in. And be bold – offer them air cover – in saying no – or not now – to basically everything else.

3. Practices. Now we’ve covered your who (people) and your what (priorities). Let’s talk about how. How will you manage, collaborate, negotiate, test, learn, and execute?

To be clear, this isn’t about “Best” practices – it’s about your practices – the ones that have served your team in the past. Have an open dialog with your team to understand when they feel most effective, most empowered, most creative. What drives those experiences?

Do they thrive with more meetings or fewer? Email, Zoom, Teams, Slack? How do they want to connect, communicate, share information? When and how often do they want to review updates with you? When should they just decide versus seek your input? Get tangible, specific, and so clear – so everyone is on the same page about the rules of engagement for this team.

4. Promises: The balance point keeping excellence and achievement in line with humanity and wholeness is tenuous. A commitment to reviewing, refining, and re-negotiating terms with your team is key.

So make a series of promises with them around how you’ll keep a finger on the pulse of this balance. Will you set aside time in your weekly team meeting to identify which practices are serving you? Will you do check-ins with team members to see where support is needed? Will you invite team members to host brainstorming sessions without you? Will you support them in finding mentors?

Discuss, promise, and hold yourself to these promises.

We wish all of you a calm and peaceful – but also vigorous and innovative – shift into fall. If you have a question, a victory, or just want to say hello – please reach on out. We just love hearing from you.