It’s the start of a new year, and now that everyone’s social media feeds have finished filling with “My 2021 updates,” we can look forward to an overwhelm of “My 2022 goals” lists. Goals in themselves are effective tools for real change, provided they are used correctly. Unfortunately, the numbers show that we aren’t very good at following through on what we set out to accomplish. Depending on who you ask, the failure rate for resolutions of all kinds can top 80 percent or higher.
As a business owner, you probably have goals such as getting a handle on your business checking account or improving your business credit scores, but you should also focus on helping your employees reach their personal goals. When integrated into an existing employee performance or wellness program, personal goals can easily mesh with career ambitions. That’s a win-win for everyone at work.
Here are some of the ways managers and leaders are using the spirit of the New Year to jump-start those workplace resolutions.
Help Your Workers Define “Success”
Failure can easily occur when we don’t know what success really looks like. Making more sales or lowering customer cancellations are all noble goals, but how will these goals be defined and then measured?
If you have a set and tangible standard to reach, it’s far more likely that workers will push through to achieve them. No one gets excited about vague, unattainable pursuits. Start your year by showing what it takes to win.
Some business decisions like, choosing a small business loan or hiring an additional employee, deserve careful thought. So too does helping pick the right goals for your staff. Instead of using the New Year as a time to evaluate all areas of performance or their personal development, help your employees pick one major goal that will have the most rewarding results.
For workplaces that have comprehensive health and wellness programs, it may make sense to choose a personal health goal to go along with a solid business target. Otherwise, stick to a single strategy that can be accounted for through measurable KPIs.
Know the Limits
A common reason for New Year’s Resolution fatigue is setting the bar too high. While we would like to think that everyone has equal skill, potential, and promise, some workers will have a very different “best” than their peers. This is where solid leadership and management roles will need to be involved; use some time to personally sit with each of your workers to craft a custom-made goal plan that works for them. Setting everyone on the same path for excellence isn’t feasible or helpful. Know that personal bests are just that – intensely personal.
Chunk It Up
Imagine you had never worked up a sweat in your life and then were asked to an Ironman Triathlon. I’m guessing that your prospects would be bleak. That’s too much to take on at once, although – if given a full year – you could certainly work your way up to that level of fitness. For workers who are staring down an elephant of a goal (and 360ish days to get it done), there could be no urgency to start moving in the right direction and no clear plan for tackling the project in attainable steps.
Do your part in the goal setting by putting together a step-by-step pathway to success. Think of these as miniature business plans. Let your workers know that it’s possible, when not viewed as an annual goal, but rather a monthly, weekly, or even daily task. Use the power of bite-sized goals to make the seemingly impossible possible again.
How long has it been since you followed up on the big goals your team is working on? If you prefer only to have one-on-ones during annual reviews or keep your status updates to group emails, you’re missing an opportunity to employ one of the most powerful tools of goal achievement: accountability.
Just as 12-Step Programs use the wonder of a group who cares to keep their members on track, your workplace can easily become a community of concerned team members who actively communicate their progress throughout the day and week. Use your authority to get reports on the small wins, issues, and changes in direction.
You don’t have to be obsessive about it, but make sure your chosen frequency of checking in continues throughout the year and doesn’t drop off after the buzz of the New Year fades.
With so many people failing at their resolutions, you rarely hear about what happens when they do make it big. “I did it!” parties aren’t very common, and the best most of us can hope for is a chance to try again the next year.
If you really want to ensure that the long road to an annual achievement is a rewarding one (and not just an endless, grueling task), make it fun to win. Those weekly check-ins can be punctuated with perks that are unique to your teams. (In the 2000s this was casual Friday, although today’s workplaces can certainly come up with something better than that.)
There will always be something that people are willing to work for; inquire about their heart’s desire the next time you have one of those weekly check-ins and plan to incorporate a version of it with each major milestone accomplished.
You only have to check LinkedIn to see that many managers have been ready to make 2022 the “best ever” since about 12:03 am on January 1st. With so many raving fans of the resolution, it can seem a bit tacky to jump into the fray. Just know that your workers are already making goals – the majority of which will soon turn into failures.
By being an integral part of a plan that succeeds, you can write a story that changes your workplace (and the lives of each of your workers) into a happy ending come December.
This article was originally written on January 3, 2019 and updated on January 4, 2022.