The practice of making New Year’s Resolutions dates as far back as the Babylonians and the Romans. The ancient Babylonian people made promises to their gods at the start of each year to pay their debts while Romans pledged themselves to the god Janus who the month of January was named after.
Janus was revered as the god of beginnings and transitions. Knights of the medieval era re-affirmed their commitment to the chivalric code at the end of every Christmas season by taking the ‘peacock vow’.
Many religious groups view the New Year as a time to reflect upon the year past and prepare for the year ahead, making resolutions to behave better in the time to come and asking forgiveness for past mistakes.
Today, many maintain the practice of making these resolutions, burdening themselves with a list of goals or wanton accomplishments for the year ahead. While fun is often poked at the sentiment, as many do not adhere to these resolutions, goals cannot be achieved if they are not set in the first place.
Goals for all
Businesses owners or managers also task themselves with setting resolutions for their businesses, but in the business world these resolutions are termed ‘strategy’. Often these resolutions or strategies are developed at the company’s ‘bosberaad’ or a management retreat.
The mistake that many management teams make is that the resolutions set mean very little to the employees of the company or to its customers resulting in the ‘action plan’ set becoming somewhat of a white elephant.
Seven paths to success
How then can resolutions be set that will make a true difference to business success? Seven basic resolutions can be implemented to enable companies to achieve their goals in 2013. These are behavioural resolutions that engage employees and customers alike, drawing buy-in and contributing to overall success.
1. Place the needs of others on the same priority level as your own. This entails taking into consideration what others, including customers and colleagues, need from you in order to be successful in their own endeavours.
The business world can be a selfish place, but by working together greater success can be achieved by all. Place a focus on helping to build a community in which we all hep each other to achieve the company’s goals.
2. Give assistance to, and be willing to receive assistance from, customers and colleagues. Although asking for help is something which many people find difficult to do, being open to receiving help from others is just as important as being willing to help those around you.
A culture of being aware of one-another’s needs and the willingness to give help without superiority or condescension breeds a team that is strong in itself, thriving through knowledge sharing and impenetrable partnerships.
3. Do things today and not tomorrow. Driving away procrastination is the third resolution. Procrastination is not only the thief of time; it is also the biggest enemy of passion and progress. The practice of constantly putting things off leads to missed deadlines, increased pressure and a general lack of motivation.
Completing tasks immediately shows unequivocal passion, while procrastination sends a message to employees and clients that your work is not important to you.
4. Learn something new every day. Whether it’s something about the company’s products, its employees or its customers. By showing genuine interest and professional curiosity knowledge is built and the business, employee or customer is left feeling as though they are interesting enough to be taken note of; it indicates that you are willing to go the extra mile.
More importantly, it shows people that they are of value and that their needs, goals and passions are being considered. By asking questions and really listening to the answers, we broaden our knowledge base, show respect and build solid relationships.
5. Lead the way by being positive and friendly to all. It may be an old adage, but it is true nonetheless; positivity breeds positivity, and negativity breeds negativity. Positivity and having an upbeat attitude is infectious and it displays to everyone that the organisation is passionate about what it does.
It is human nature to become what we see – if you are constantly catching your boss napping at his desk, what is stopping you from doing the same. To create a team that works better, is more innovative and craves more knowledge, begin by demonstrating these traits yourself.
6. Search for perspective by being your own customer. This may be the most difficult resolution, requiring a complete perspective shift and a certain level of honest introspection. Taking a step back and viewing our own behaviour from our customers’ perspective provides the opportunity to consider how our behaviour truly affects our clients.
It also allows us to better recognise our customers’ requirements and helps to ensure that we fulfil on the promises we make.
7. Do the right thing. While doing the right thing may not always be doing the easy thing, the consequences are far easier to deal with than when the wrong thing is done. If the right thing is done there is no need for apologies, do-overs or answering to allegations of being dishonest, unethical or irresponsible.
As professionals we have a duty to behave morally and proficiently, giving colleagues no excuse for sub-par performance.
Executing New Year’s Resolutions may be far more difficult than drawing than up, but rather than create some unilateral ‘strategies’ that don’t truly benefit anyone, implement these seven simple resolutions with a dedication to continue them on into the second quarter and throughout the rest of 2013.
The results will speak for themselves.