3 Leadership Resolutions for the New Year

Monday January 2, 2017 comments


Lose weight. Get in shape. Stop smoking. Get out of debt. It’s just so human to want new beginnings, fresh starts, and do-overs. So we come up with resolutions – our noble intentions to do things that may be more grandiose than what we actually do or even can do. But it’s all good because it helps us focus on the future, think of things we want to do, and create new ways to improve. We need that. So do our organizations. So do our teams.

Survey after survey after survey after survey of working people show 3 things most of them find most motivating in most jobs:

  • Full Appreciation. Most people do not believe they are given credit for what they do. Some think a boss or peer take credit for their work. Some feel invisible. Admittedly, there are some egomaniacs and prima donnas who seem needy for constant positive strokes. And while you don’t want to cater to that, virtually everyone appreciates appreciation.
  • Being Included. When there’s a dearth of information, people fill in the gaps with assumptions that are often worse than reality. Kind of like the media these days. People love to know what’s going on; to feel like they’re in the know and not just operating off information from the rumor mill. They want to hear from their leader. And they want their leader to hear from them.
  • Interesting Work. People shouldn’t be treated as a commodity, as if the employment relationship is just a transactional one, as if they’re just an asset. People want to be hired for their brain and not just their ability to check of tasks. They want a big picture that paints the mundane as an integral part of the whole. They want their experience in the trenches to be valued by leaders from the perspective they bring, rather than feeling patronized by suits in an office that don’t engage them in real world solutions.

So, if your goal is to motivate your team to the highest level of performance, resolve to do 3 things starting now:

  1. Give Thanks. Appreciation doesn’t have to cost money. It can. But it can also be a sincere heart-felt thank you. Thank your people often. Create a culture of appreciation by modeling it, providing opportunities for peer recognition, and creating ways for your organization to appreciate customers, vendors, and your network. Appreciate effort as well as success. Be grateful and infuse that into your team as a company norm.
  2. Communicate. And over communicate. Use multiple methods of communicating like focused (and brief) company meetings, department meetings, one-on-ones, emails, intranets, and focus groups. Communicate through managers, but also through informal leaders. Don’t just disseminate information, reenvision people with the vision you see, the values you hold, and the whole mission and purpose the organization and team exist. And don’t just be the one sharing… listen. Invite perspective; welcome dialogue.
  3. Engage. The best way to make work interesting is to engage people in the organization – its challenges, its opportunities. Engage expertise from the trenches – those in a position to know a perspective you don’t and can’t. Intrinsic motivators – those related to the work itself – are the things that motivate people. As the leader, you can hand down ultimatums that others must follow. That won’t necessarily get you the motivated team you want. Alternatively, you can get buy-in by including people in decisions that impact work. In doing so you’ll come up with stronger solutions, overcome resistance, and move forward. Get your people to help you sell more, waste less, increase quality, cut costs, improve customer relationships, and be more productive.

Like any other New Year’s Resolutions, these 3 won’t be met unless you hold yourself accountable regularly. Get to about Friday morning and ask yourself if you’ve expressed appreciation to everyone possible, if you’ve communicated effectively so that others aren’t left in the dark, and if you’ve engaged everyone you can in the work of the organization. That way when you identify a shortfall, you still have time to make it happen in the current week. Dated thanks, old news, late engagements sound like last year’s stuff. Let’s make it a great 2017! Happy New Year.


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