10 Challenges for Your New Year
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It's the new year--time to reflect on what you accomplished last year and how you will make this year even better. Some people say resolutions last only until the first crisis erupts. However, most say resolutions are effective guidelines toward organizational success. That's why I am offering some important resolutions to help launch your new year.
- Set a clear, attainable vision with concrete measurable goals. Share these with all employees. When people know exactly where you are leading the company and how they can support that journey, they become more productive and responsive to your initiatives.
- Require employees create goals of their own. Encourage them to generate "S-t-r-e-t-c-h Goals" to help them reach for new heights and achieve more than they think they can. In general, the higher the standards and the greater the effort, the better the outcome. Schedule time to discuss both sets of goals. You can review and modify objectives to ensure the employees' goals and aspirations align with those of the company.
- Tell people what your individual expectations are. Provide specific and measurable feedback about their ongoing job performance. It's helpful to do this periodically during the year, too. Identify the employees who could benefit from more training or supervision. Similarly, identify the ones who need less input. There may also be some who simply will not succeed given the resources you can provide to them. With this latter group, you will need to consider termination.
- Manage by walking around. Spend time outside of your office. Walk around the halls of your building. See what is going on. Don't just pass staff in the corridor. As often as you can, stop and chat with the people who are key resources in striving to make you a success. One at a time, find out what they need, what they like, what they dislike, and what makes their job challenging and rewarding. You will gain new insights about what it's like to work for your company.
- Listen to your employees. Building on the idea of managing by walking around, invite employees into your office or a conference room and get to know them better on an informal basis that goes beyond the typical boss-subordinate relationship. You want to get to know your employees as individuals, too. A goal in this instance is to reveal your human side. You certainly don't want to share highly personal data with each other. Rather, you'll want to discuss news about the job, hobbies, special interests, family information, etc. Ideally, this can be accomplished in a small group setting. Consider doing this for breakfast or lunch.
- Tell people that you care about them. When they know you care, they will be more motivated, dedicated and productive. No one really enjoys working for a boss who is just all about business and nothing else. Show and tell them why you care and why they are important to you. Discuss a career path and demonstrate that you want to help them grow and develop on the job. Help them become more skilled and better qualified so they will be able to assume more responsibilities. On-the-job training is too often associated with a "sink or swim" mentality. When employees feel confident about their skills, they will easily be more productive, motivated, satisfied and successful. And during this time, let them know that you are there to support them and are willing to back them up in times of difficulties. This approach is easily a "win-win" situation.
- Cross-train employees to motivate them. Teach employees new skills that will enable them to assist colleagues in completing tasks. While they acquire these new skills and assume greater responsibility, their value to the organization will increase.
- Be open to new ideas. Great thoughts and creative ideas can come from places other than the executive offices. That's an important reason to nurture a climate that encourages employees to share their ideas about how to improve their organization. These suggestions can be about policies, procedures, desk assignments, product design or customer service. The results can often lead to increased productivity and an endless well of ideas once you open the gates for employee input.
- Make time to have fun. Play games such as Monopoly, Ping-Pong and gin rummy. The workplace is by design and necessity a serious environment. Dollars, reputations, market share and success are all at stake. However, an occasional break from the sobering day-to-day functioning is not only possible, it's strongly encouraged and highly prized. Periodically setting aside an hour or so says that, while you believe in and value hard work, you also realize the importance of "taking a break."
- Create reasons to celebrate. This idea fits in well with your plan to craft a more humane, interactive working environment. When a company recognizes a birthday, an anniversary or a significant accomplishment, the company's employees will feel valued and appreciated; as a result, they'll be more willing to go the extra mile for you and your company. These reactions are crucial to fostering a positive environment that builds morale, improves motivation, and creates opportunities for success.