With the holiday celebrations now at an end, many of us are returning to our usual daily grind refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to dive into the tasks awaiting our attention. The start of a new year is also a time when many of us make resolutions of what we’d like to accomplish over the next 365 days, and possibly beyond.
Granted, it’s only natural that we’d be motivated right now to create these lists of goals, as the start of a new year often inspires that feeling of a new start; that the turning to a fresh page instills hope for new opportunities and bright possibilities for our future. The buoyant positivity around this time of the year can certainly be quite beneficial as it encourages us to take time for some personal self-reflection, pushing us to define goals of what we’d like to change in ourselves, and what areas of knowledge and understanding we’d like to develop a greater awareness of.
Of course, in order for us to truly reap the benefits of this exercise, we need to review the events of the previous year; of taking note of what we endured, learned and gained from those past experiences which can serve as the foundation that we build upon as we move forward.
Another point to consider when developing these lists of goals is how the focus doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to ourselves. Indeed, the start of a new year is a perfect opportunity for leaders to evaluate how they can help their employees with achieving their professional goals for this year.
Now, before the cynic within all of us dismisses such notions as being the result of an euphoric haze that often comes with celebrating the arrival of a new year, let us consider one of the lessons we learned over the course of the previous one. Namely, how it’s becoming more evident that the troubled waters others find themselves in can cause ripples that hit our shores as well, even if there are no direct links between our industry or country and theirs.
If nothing else, one thing that was made clear last year was the growing complexity of interconnectedness and interdependency in today’s global market and with it, the importance of being able to see beyond our own pursuits to appreciate the context of the bigger picture. One of the best ways to navigate these new waters is by looking to your employees to help you anticipate and respond accordingly so that your organization doesn’t lose sight of your shared purpose.
With this in mind, here are four new year’s resolutions leaders can and should make to ensure this year is a successful one for their team and organization.
1. Provide resources to help your employees with their professional development
Although there are no obvious signs that this year will bring forth better economic conditions, one of the best investments organizations can make this year is supporting the professional development of their employees. Such measures will not only make it clear to your employees that you’re paying attention to their needs, but you’re also giving them the opportunity to become more valuable members of your organization.
This will also go a long way in boosting employee engagement and reinforcing a sense of purpose in their roles, not to mention helping your organization to maintain or gain an edge in today’s increasingly competitive market.
2. Share insights from your own experiences to inspire and guide those you lead
One of the reasons many people are offered a position to lead others is because of what they learned through their past experiences. However, those experiences are of little use if you don’t share it with those you lead so that they can also learn and grow from it.
Remember, the key to being a successful leader is not simply what you were able to accomplish in the past. It’s how you use those past experiences to inspire and mentor those under your care to push themselves to become better and make meaningful contributions to your shared purpose.
3. Use the annual performance reviews to create personalized employee training/mentoring plans
As most of us have encountered at one point or another in our careers, the annual performance reviews are often used mainly as a tool by an organization’s leadership to determine employee bonuses or salary increases.
However, this doesn’t really tap into the real value of the performance review. Namely, as a tool to help leaders understand an employee’s strengths and the value of their contributions, as well as where potential weak spots exist within their workforce.
The beginning of the new year is a great time to pull out those performance reviews and see what you can do to help your employees build on both their past accomplishments and setbacks, by providing them with the kind of support and training they’ll need to succeed in the months ahead.
4. Find ways to help your customers with problems your products or services can’t solve
When it comes to our own products or services, one obvious function should be that they help to solve a particular problem or issue our customers are dealing with. But what about those problems that fall outside of what our products or services address?
Naturally, we can’t expect to solve all the problems our customers may have. But it’s possible that within our network of contacts and other customers that there might be someone else who can help our customers with these problems that we can’t solve. By making the effort of finding possible solutions elsewhere, you will show your customers how much you value the relationship as your focus is not simply on what you can sell them. Rather, it’s on how you can be of service to them, regardless of who provides the solution.
The process of developing a list of affirmative, call-to-action goals is without question a valuable tool for both professional and personal development, especially if we realize that it’s also a fluid and never-ending one.
However, if we also include in this exercise some goals of how we can reach out to help others, the action takes on greater significance as our focus is now on creating positive change and growth beyond our personal boundaries. Given the economic challenges many countries are currently struggling with, it’s clear that what’s needed today is more outward-focused efforts and attention, and less inward-facing, self-serving ones.
So as you make your list of goals for this year, don’t limit yourself to resolutions of how you can become a ‘better’ you. Instead, look also for goals where you can use your knowledge, resources, and experiences to help make a difference to those around you. Trust me when I say the payoff will be worth it.