Berger Leadership Blog

Jan 27, 2023
Categories: Motivation Culture

Stop the January work slump cycle

The new year is now in full swing. Activity is picking up at organizations as they execute their 2023 plans, with leaders at the forefront of this acceleration. 

However, studies have found that January is often the least productive month of the year as people find it hard to stay motivated and committed to goals. With the current state of the labor market and economic headwinds, it’s understandable how this year may be especially challenging. A Harvard Business Review (HBR) article offers several ways to get your team out of this slump and shake things up in a meaningful way. 

According to HBR, it’s important to use the first month of the year to experiment with new tools, processes, and strategies. Think of January as a sandbox to pilot new ideas – this provides your employees with a creative outlet and gets them thinking outside of the box. Perhaps this means restructuring a weekly meeting to focus more on the bigger picture and new ideas rather than discussing individual tasks and daily responsibilities.

Relatedly, as your employees bring new ideas to the table, have them embrace the next month as “fail-fast” February. As a leader, your employees look up to you for inspiration and it’s important to establish an environment that promotes innovation while maintaining a sense of security. Share a time you had an idea that failed, but also underscore the continuous iterations and tinkering you did until you found a solution. This will motivate your team to exercise their problem-solving skills and make them feel comfortable trying new things. 

January is also an important time to keep up employee appreciation and morale. Recognizing the value of each person on your team – outside of the holiday season – is critical to their personal success and your organization overall. This practice does not only fall on you as a leader. Encourage your entire team to share appreciation with one another and build stronger bonds by offering positive words of support. 

Lastly, the first month of the year is a time for leaders and their employees to reflect on what matters most. At NAFCU, we reflect on this every single day. Our “NAFCU why” will always be to provide extreme member service to credit unions and advocate on their behalf so they can continue to grow and thrive as America’s best choice for financial products and services. 


As leaders, it is imperative to remember your purpose, who you help, and why. Utilize January as a time to reset but also try new things. Be the spark that keeps your employees connected to the important work they do every day. 

About the Author

B. Dan Berger, President and CEO, NAFCU

Dan BergerB. Dan Berger first joined NAFCU in 2006 and helped turn the association into the premiere advocate for the credit union industry.

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