The new year has arrived. But the question becomes where are we going? For many, they will make this new year an opportunity to change for the better, like more exercise, better eating habits, improved relationships; a burst of positive energy. Many, of course, will make no formal plans or resolutions and just keep doing things the way they have and “roll with the punches.” There also is a large group of people that will wish for better things but take no concerted action to affect those things they want to be better.
No matter what group you are in, you most likely, by the end of the year, will experience some change, perhaps a little for the better or a little for the worse. Those who experience a more drastic change for the worse will have most likely been hit with something totally unexpected and perhaps not controllable. While many of those who experience a rather positive outcome for the year probably will be able to chalk it off to some action they took or a series of steps they initiated throughout the year.
Some of the steps may have been taken because an opportunity was presented and they took advantage of it. Others could have found opportunities because they were looking for specific things that would be advantageous. They had goals or targets that guided their efforts. The more defined the targets, the more likely they were able to achieve them or at least they moved in the desired direction. Setting the target can be done in various ways. It can be an absolute point, for example, lose 30 pounds, save $1,200 for college, etc. Or it can be documenting each time you accomplish some action or process, such as getting a check on a chart each time you help someone. At the end of the year, you can look back and say this is what was accomplished. How these different groups react when they make the assessment, if they do, will say a lot about what has happened to them.
It’s more than just setting goals
How you perceive this measurement is a critical aspect of the process. If you take the perspective of anything more than where you started is a plus, it likely will be a positive motivating factor. If you take the perspective that only meeting the goal is acceptable, the process can be a burden, and except for those with high motivation, it can be a demotivator and negative when the goal expectation appears to be unattainable. If you don’t set a goal or make a resolution, you don’t miss the mark and have the negative perception of yourself. Perhaps, this is why most people don’t go down this road. Consequently, being successful requires a little self-examination as the first step. You have to understand yourself and begin from that point if you really want something better for yourself. For example, is it realistic to set your goal to run a marathon in three months if you have not walked a mile at one time in the last year or you can only allot 20 minutes per day to exercise? Don’t be afraid to set the goal based on a realistic appraisal of circumstances or make modifications when circumstances change. Maybe an intermediate goal of running a 5K by year-end is more feasible. Then you can do some planning and put some things in place that will contribute to your effort. Also, celebrate whenever you make notable progress. Don’t always wait until the end of the road.
People vs. organizations
Is there any difference between people who make resolutions and organizations that set plans? Maybe the similarities are closer than you might think. If your organization wants to have a positive year, you have to think through the process a bit to be sure the results will contribute in a positive manner and be consistent with the focus and efforts of the organization.
The first step in this analysis is to answer a somewhat simple question: Is a positive culture better to achieve results than a negative culture? Not many people will take the position employees only work under duress. However, there are a lot of organizations that still operate in subtle ways using the Machiavellian philosophy of rule by fear rather than by love. If you find one style is the predominant mode of operation in your organization, then your goal-setting and support mechanisms have to be consistent or you need to change the style.
Organizations that have a positive culture attract people with a positive outlook more easily and the results are engaged employees, which studies show have significant impact on the bottom line. The topics of employee engagement and retention have been discussed before, so I’m not intending to plow old ground. What I do want to promote is the concept of self-fulfillment. If you think and act like a winner, you will be a winner. It may not happen overnight, but those who pursue a goal, seem to get there in one fashion or another if they are persistent.
Promoting improvement and supporting the efforts of positive change will allow people to have self-fulfillment, and that helps them see themselves as winners, which helps the organization.
Success comes in many ways
Such an environment allows openness to new ideas, new knowledge and new insights because continual testing of the circumstances is accepted, application of different experiences and attributes of others opens multiple options to achieve desired results. It promotes a jumping in when the opportunity presents itself. Developing and adopting this mentality of building and integrating multiple components are what form leaders and support those who make a difference and translate into highly successful organizations.
Those who roll with the punches might not get back up when they get knocked down, or they get somewhat comfortable with a “just get by” approach to life. They can even see themselves as content. In fact, these are often solid citizens and reliable employees who are needed to keep things functioning along established lines. Unfortunately, in our rapidly changing world, the well-established lines are changing rapidly, which may put them in a catch-up or limited options environment controlled by others.
So as the new year moves forward, is your organization taking the initiative to become winners or is it waiting to see what will happen next? Taking the step to discuss self-fulfillment and modest action steps can move you toward becoming a winner, or are you in the group referred to as others?
Ardon Schambers is principal at P3HR Consulting & Services.