Before we know it 2013 will be here. As we close each year it is always a good idea to look at what worked and what we can improve. Bill McBean, the author of The Facts of Business Life: What Every Successful Business Owner Knows That You Don’t, began his career with General Motors of Canada. Since then he has started several businesses outside the automotive industry and has applied his business concepts and knowledge to other industries. I recently received a press release that described eight “must-dos” before the end-of-year. Although he geared it to entrepreneurs and small business owners, and some suggestions do not apply to biomed departments, some do make sense. You are often like business owners because you have direct contact with your customers, you are always putting out fires, you look at ways to get more visibility, and you are always working to improve. Here are some of his suggestions to set you on track for 2013 and beyond.

  • Hold a 2012 post-mortem. For managers, start by analyzing whether you have been an effective leader. Ask what your department did well and what it could have done better. Where do future opportunities lie?
  • Do a top-to-bottom walk-through of your systems and procedures. Examine what is working and what isn’t.
  • Although he suggests pinpointing your best customers, clinical/biomedical engineering departments can apply this to all their customers: Give them a heartfelt end-of-the-year thank you.
  • Create ways to enrich the relationships and continually create added value for them. “Obviously, saying thank you doesn’t hurt, no matter how often they hear it,” McBean said. “No one likes to be taken for granted. A call or letter from you will show them that you don’t. It’s amazing the ROI you’ll get from such a simple action.”
  • Don’t neglect your other big “asset”: employees. If possible, meet with each one individually. A quick end-of-year conversation one-on-one can help you shore up relationships, challenge low performers to do better, and reward and rerecruit your highest performers.

While his next suggestion refers to a marketing campaign, it can work just as well for a department to help them get to the core of issues they need to address based on the industry: “What are the three most important things I need to know right now?”

McBean’s last point to succeed and to stay successful: Companies must be “on their game” 24/7.

Whether your department follows these ideas or meets for an end-of-the-year evaluation, recapping the year as a department offers a great way to strengthen the team and brainstorming provides an excellent avenue to come up with new ideas for challenging problems.