Q4 is almost here! And you may be looking to ramp up employee productivity to reach your annual revenue goals. If you are behind schedule, this may be the time to rally the troops and incentivize them to win more business. But how do you do so amidst the chaotic atmosphere of the holidays? How do you fight against employee absenteeism and low energy levels when you are trying to make the most of the quarter? Here are some simple but practical tips to finish the year strong.

1 Tell the truth! Be honest about the company’s situation

Sometimes telling the truth is the first step to reaching a successful outcome. John Emery, CEO of Emery Worldwide, now part of UPS, provided company updates to its employees bi-annually. One time, the company’s stock plummeted, and the CEO was forced to announce the terrible news to its employees. He believed it was the best way to recover from this event. He said, “We’re all in this together, and I need everyone on board now more than any other time.”

Once John made the announcement, the news impacted the organization positively. Everyone was brainstorming on how they could remedy the situation, and together, they were able to recover from this disaster. If you are in a similar position, tell your employees how vital it is for the company to reach its goal, and what the potential impact is if it doesn’t. Sometimes, crises call for all hands on deck to save the enterprise. So if you haven’t been honest with your employees, now is the time to be.

2 Encourage employees to speak up without finger-pointing

The way you choose to deliver difficult information to your employees is critical and demands a lot of tact. As a leader, your role is to remain unbiased, approachable, kind, optimistic, and diplomatic. This behavior will enable your team to open-up, and frankly present you with viable solutions to reach your goals. Remember, at this stage of the game, it’s not about who’s wrong or who failed to perform. It’s about what we can do individually and collectively to succeed. If there are toxic issues that need to be addressed, address them privately with the appropriate parties concerned. Otherwise, move forward.

Tim Armstrong, the CEO of AOL, was not able to handle a problematic situation properly. During a company-wide address to 1,100 PATCH employees, the CEO fired Abel Lenz, the Creative Director, for his lack of attention to his message. PATCH, a subsidiary of AOL, had been losing a lot of money, so much that it was on the brink of facing mass layoffs.

Tim had noticed the Creative Director had been too distracted filming the meeting, instead of paying attention to the critical message he was sharing. As a result, the CEO said, “Stop shooting. Abel, you’re fired. Out of here.” According to the Harvard Business Review, Tim had been disappointed previously with the Creative Director’s work performance. Therefore, Lenz’s behavior at the meeting resulted in his termination.

Though Tim’s reasons for firing Lenz may have been justified, his timing was not. He shouldn’t have fired him in public. His actions produced fear and distrust among the rest of the employees. They thought their jobs were not secure, pushing them to look outside the organization for new job opportunities. As a result, employee engagement and productivity decreased, and the company fell into a deeper hole than it was before.

So, are you capable of being frank and honest with your employees without being rude? Can you give them constructive criticism without being defensive or combative? Because remember, your role is to lift their spirits, not tear them down if you want the organization to prosper.


Incentivize your troops with rewards

When your employees are performing well, show them how much you value and appreciate them. Take this opportunity to parade your gratitude and affection publicly with rewards. According to Gallup research, employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they’ll quit in the next year. Therefore, we implore you to recognize, motivate, and reward your employees! This act of recognition provides a sense of accomplishment to your employees. It makes them feel valued at work. It boosts their engagement and loyalty, leading to higher productivity and retention. WorkHuman says that 32% of employees stay at their company because they find their work more meaningful and fulfilling. This is a result of proper employee recognition.

Furthermore, recompensating your employees will motivate them and their peers to work harder. These simple acts of recognition will send messages to other employees about what success looks like. They will become tools for personal reward and opportunities to reinforce the desired culture your organization has been trying to establish (Gallup).

Incentivize your troops with rewards
Set SMART goals!

Set SMART goals!

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Relevant, and Timely. Your goals should not be too challenging nor too easy. If they are unrealistically high, your employees will give up before they have even started. If they’re aimed too low, your team will feel like they have nothing to strive for.

Also, remember that it’s the fourth quarter and you cannot set goals that are unachievable in three months, with half of your team out on leave. Strategize effectively and focus your team’s energy on what they can do best. Capitalize your resources on the high-performing services, target niches, products, and or key performers. Figure out how you can amplify their productivity exponentially to reach your goals. Then set specific goals daily, weekly, and monthly.

Research indicates that setting goals serve four essential functions: providing guidance and direction, facilitating planning, motivating and inspiring employees, and helping evaluate and control performance. An analysis conducted by Locke & Latham confirmed that specific and challenging goals lead to higher performance than “do your best” goals or no goals at all.

Once you have set your goals, monitor the progress of your team’s performance and execute contingency plans if they are not going to meet your goals in time. Use this monitoring system to keep everyone accountable.

5 Build a schedule and minimize distractions

Have a clear, detailed schedule that displays when your team is out on leave, especially your top performers. Be proactive and design a plan to mitigate any potential decline in productivity. If possible, encourage the top employees to keep working by providing them with special incentives and flexible work arrangements. If that’s not possible, ask them to complete their work in advance. If the budget allows, hire consultants or freelancers who can cover their duties while they are out.

Simultaneously, ensure that all your team members are focused on accomplishing the core functions of their role. Give them projects that primarily help reach your Q4 goals. Don’t put irrelevant assignments on their plate at this time. Those secondary projects can be managed later, or they will become distractions that will deter them from focusing on what is most important.

6 Provide the right tools and equipment

Provide your employees with the right tools to complete their assignments effectively. Avoid carrying out tasks manually to save a few bucks. If there are higher performing equipment, apps, and resources that can help your employees reach their individual goals quickly, invest in those items. The return on investment will be well worth it.

7 Cut back unnecessary spending

If you realize you won’t be able to reach your annual revenues by the end of Q4, cut back your expenses. Work with your financial team to determine the areas where you can cut back cost and boost profits. When reporting the books to your stakeholders, your summary will not focus on revenue, but profits.

Rallying the troops to increase productivity at the end of the year is not easy, but it is doable. Start by boosting your team’s spirit with a charismatic speech and a clear vision for the fourth quarter. Be honest. Be confident. Work with them to develop SMART goals that will help them achieve your vision. Then give them the right tools and resources to accomplish their tasks. If you still can’t hit your goals by the end of the year, have a contingency plan such as cutting back costs. These tips can help you finish the year strong.

For more tips on how you can increase employee engagement, please view our webinar “How to Strengthen Company Culture through Leadership.” If you need further assistance, please contact our team here. We are here to help you xcelerate the growth of your business.