ROANOKE, Va. — As we approach the holidays and the end of the year celebration, it is time to take a moment and look back at the challenges, struggles and successes of this past year.

But most importantly, it is time to thank our employees for their efforts in making this a year worth remembering.

It is  normal for managers to set goals for the upcoming year at this time. I would normally start by looking back at what our goals were at the start of the year.

I always regarded goals as guideposts and not as a defined road map. No game plan can withstand constant contact with the reality of life. Unexpected problems and opportunities arise each year that requires us to modify those goals.

A good manager adapts and changes to real-world situations.

But no manager can achieve success alone. We all owe our success to the team we have put together to make the business work.

Every person in your organization is important. Every person contributes to moving the organization forward.

I believe in giving thanks more than once a year. It is important to keep everyone engaged and moving forward together. Celebrate your milestones and keep everyone focused on what the company is attempting to achieve.

But at this time of year, it is especially important to let your staff know where we succeeded together, where we might have failed and recognize the unexpected challenges we had to overcome.

The goal is to keep your staff informed, engaged and moving together toward a common goal. This of course requires a great deal of time and effort on your part in communicating directly with each employee.

You may want to reflect back on the great snowstorm that happen early in the year and how we all pulled together to meet the needs of our customers.

Perhaps there was a major piece of equipment that broke down and forced you to operate your laundry on a two-shift basis instead of just a one-shift operation.

Perhaps you introduced a new textile product to the laundry that required new handling procedures, new packaging procedures and a large amount of customer education.

Highlight these achievements, help people remember how strong teamwork helped you meet your goals.

In my laundry, we always tried to also celebrate our diversity. I had employees from over 10 different countries. Our ability to overcome language and cultural barriers to become a close working group was something we always celebrated. 

We worked closely with our Muslim employees to make sure that their unique needs were met during Ramadan. We found ways to celebrate the wonderful opportunities found in our great country.

As part of our year-end celebration, we also explained our goals for the upcoming year.

We said this is what we think we need to achieve based on what we know might happen next year—but acknowledging that life happens and some of these goals will need to be changed to meet current challenges. 

Thanking your employees, reflecting on the past year’s challenges and successes, and setting a roadmap for the future will result in a more dedicated, engaged and committed staff.