Knowing that 80 percent of New Year’s Resolutions fail by February, isn’t it time to shift our bold aspirations to the spring, the natural time for renewal? If you never made any 2018 resolutions to begin with, you’re just in time to set fresh goals and make positive changes to rejuvenate the workplace.
Whether you manage a team or own a small business, here are some resolutions to take to make spring 2018 a turning point for success in effecting positive and lasting change.
- Never stop learning. Learning should be part of every professional’s daily process. Business leaders and small business owners who support employees’ professional development can expect to strengthen bonds with co-workers and increase retention, aside from improving the work culture itself. When you help employees, you help your business. Provide opportunities for staff to pursue a new certification, enroll in an online degree or professional development program, write an article for trade publication, or learn a new platform that could give them, and your company, a competitive edge. If you promote and support continuous learning with your staff, you’ll also gain a reputation as a company that cares about its employees and recruiting top talent will be easier.
- Be more transparent. Be approachable. Be open with your staff, share your ideas, and seek advice. If a major change is being considered, talk about the goal first. If, for example, plans call for the need to improve customer service with better, consistent communication, tell staff you expect input from everyone involved on how to achieve that goal. When leaders are secretive and make plans for the team without the team, it builds a barrier which is tough to knock down.
- Listen more than you talk. Do you find yourself dominating the dialogue at meetings? When you ask for contributions, are you met with the sound of crickets? Instead of doing all the talking, devote more time to listening to your co-workers. Allow them to lead conversations. Silence is golden. Sometimes the long pause opens the door to valuable feedback that’s been locked away for months.
- Say “thank you” more. Half of employees do not feel respected or appreciated by their bosses, according to a Harvard Business Review study. This is an easy fix. How difficult is it to consistently say “thank you” to your co-workers? Showing gratitude is an essential and easy way to inspire a workplace for responsiveness and cooperation, especially when gratitude and recognition comes from the top. Show your thanks to everyone, from the cleaning staff and temporary workers to the top brass. Show them their best efforts are noticed and valued. When co-workers feel appreciated they are more cooperative and happier at work.
- Give employees feedback. Employees want to know how they are doing, so have regular review sessions, every 4-6 weeks. Always lead with something positive before giving criticism; that is, constructive Ask them what they can do to correct the situation. Come up with a solution. Leave on a positive note.
- Delegate more. You are likely fully capable of performing just about every task in your business or department. Learn from a reformed workaholic. Take a step back. Delegate more to free yourself up for focusing on growing the business.
- Leap more. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The most successful people are risk takers. Do you fall into that category? When the economy is flourishing as it now is, it’s easier to take risks. Time to dive in!
- Embrace diversity. Keep building a diverse workplace. If you’re hiring, the talent pool is vast. Look first for the skills you need, then find the right personality fit and life experience level. At Venture Up, we value initiative; someone who sailed the world after graduate school, created her own successful business in Nigeria, a former professional athlete, a new immigrant from Latin America. Look for someone who shows a positive, pro-active attitude. Personalities are important, regardless of the person’s background. Are they funny? Do they get along with others? When you get the right mix, you’ll find a staff that naturally reflects diversity. Diversity of thought is most important, and that’s something you won’t find in a homogenous group.
- Get organized The best organization plan agrees with your personal habits. Sometimes technology gets in the way when you’re trying to streamline time management, file management, scheduling, accountability and accounting. Use the technology you need to, but If you’re tired of forcing yourself to use technology for every task, because everyone else does, or because “it’s so easy” (?), re-think the value of the pad and pen, the most under-rated inventions when your tech resources gets moody or crash entirely. No bookkeeper will say no to written records submitted on time, and paper sticky notes will never let you down if you tack them with Scotch tape.
- Take more time off. “Graveyards are full of indispensable men,” said Charles de Gaulle. I’m not sure if he really meant, “Have fun before you die,” but for our purposes it means get off your high horse and take a break, already. Some people wait until a health crisis or death of a loved one to take time off, landing them in a new kind of crisis mode.
It’s spring! A bright day lies ahead. Leave your cell phone at home (or at least in your car). Go on a hike with your kids, take your dog to the park, ride a horse in the wilderness. The sun is a natural mood booster. When you return to work, uplift your staff by having your next meeting outdoors. Allow teams engage in work projects in a park or on company grounds where their minds are free to create, vs. the dull confines of the fluorescent-lit workplace.
Making changes such as these are easy and free, or almost free. Shine a light on yourself and your team. The force of spring is with you.