If you are a regular at your local gym, you'll know that January is the worst. Throngs of people either sign up or remember their forgotten membership as they vow to make this year the year they finally get in shape. Once you have lived through a few years of the January influx, you learn to grin and bear the New Year's Resolution crowd, knowing 80 percent of resolutions fail, most by mid-February. The question then becomes, why do we think resolutions for our businesses will be any different?
Defining a Resolution
A resolution is a decision to change a behavior. The very word itself has connotations of being firm, inviolate, inflexible. People resolve to quit smoking, lose weight, quit eating sugar, etc. Yet most of these decisions fall far short of actually changing the behavior itself. You can make the declaration that you will do (or quit doing) something, but without a plan of action you are destined for failure.
Likewise in business, making a resolution to double your sales volume, improve employee training processes, increase productivity, or reduce employee turnover will not translate into actionable steps you (or your employees) can take toward success. In essence, a resolution is a declarative wish.
Swap the Resolution for a Goal
By contrast, goals must have five SMART characteristics to be effective. Any goal you set for your business must be:
- Specific — Use action words to state your goal. Be as specific as possible. Specificity reduces confusion, clarifies the objective to your workforce and clients, and allows you to repeat the goal over and over throughout the year.
- Measurable — Use numbers to define success. If you want to reduce employee turnover, how will you know you have succeeded (or failed)? Saying you want to reduce employee turnover by 80 percent gives you a way to measure progress.
- Attainable — Choose a goal that is slightly out of reach, but still attainable with hard work. It's a fine line between setting a goal so high it crushes motivation and setting a goal too low that you don't have to work to achieve it.
- Realistic — The goals you choose for your business must be something you have control or influence over. If your goal is dependent on market conditions, consumer behavior or other external forces, no amount of action will allow you to achieve it.
- Time-based — While December 31 is a nifty deadline, it may not allow you to make necessary adjustments throughout the year. Time-based checkpoints will give you the opportunity to periodically evaluate your progress, adjust your objectives and clarify your goal to your stakeholders.
Make the Goal a Habit
In their book, "Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard", Chip Heath and Dan Heath introduce a concept known commonly as "The Elephant and the Rider”. If you are riding an elephant, getting it to start, stop or change directions is incredibly difficult. As a small human atop an 11-foot tall, 6 ton animal, you can only influence the elephant so much, for so long. However, once the elephant is moving in your desired direction, it is much easier to maintain the pace and direction.
And so it is with your business goals for the new year. Your willpower to change your company's behavior must only extend to the point where new habits are formed. If you can distill your goals down to a few actions you want your staff to take and then effectively communicate those actions to your staff, the momentum of success will carry them forward.
Whether you are ready to streamline your HR processes in the new year or simply improve your staff's productivity, Employer Flexible can help. Let's chat about how we can help you set and crush your goals this year.