Let's be honest. New Year Resolutions are overrated. First, they rarely last, and second, they usually try to fix something about the past rather than focusing on strengthening the future.
What if instead of resolving to"do better" we commit to "add value" to our careers and our organizations? Let's not call them resolutions either. Commitment is a much better description, don't you think? These three commitments are a great start for a better 2020.
- Commit to developing stronger relationships in 2020. Most of us really hate networking and avoid it when we can. Just admit that you hate it, but commit do it anyway - in a more pleasant way. Develop a list of the people in your industry who you admire and would like to get to know better. Include on that list people in your network you haven't connected with recently. One by one, invite each to have coffee, meet for lunch, or even sit together at a community event you will both be attending. In advance of each meeting, set a goal for the exchange. Afterward, make notes about your conversation that includes any insights and action items from the meeting. And follow up quickly with an email thanks. Then throughout the year, as you discover articles, resources, or information that would be of interest to your new professional connection, reach out with the information to keep the relationship fresh. (Keep a record of that, too.) Set a goal for 2020 that is reasonable for you - monthly, bimonthly, even weekly - and get to work on that list.
- Commit to think about succession. The best leaders know that planning for succession is too important to be ignored. Yet, it is all too often delayed, often with significant consequences. Start small but start now. Begin by making notes that the next person in your position will need to know to be successful. About three years in advance of my expected retirement from my most recent position, I began keeping, updating, and revising my lists. My successor tells me that she continues to refer to the document I gave her, even after 18 months. My recommendation on what to include? Key contacts, partners, allies (and adversaries, too); important dates and deadlines; board of directors information; and corporate history, milestones, and records. I'm sure there are other important items for your own situation, but the key is to begin, even if you don't plan on leaving for several years. You will revise, cut, add, expand your list throughout your tenure, but your successor will thank you for paying attention to this important leadership task. And it is just as important for your staff to develop a similar habit in their own departments. Consider adding the duty to their annual goals to give succession planning the importance it deserves.
- Commit to an attitude of gratitude. Send out regular Thank You notes when people do something nice for you or your organization. Emails are fine, but the handwritten, snail mail note is better. It only takes a few minutes, and you would be surprised how much the recipient appreciates - and remembers - it. Tell staff that you appreciate them and their efforts, too. Do it regularly, be specific, be genuine. Pass on compliments – in writing or in person, publicly or privately, or all of the above.
If you make - and keep - these three commitments in 2020, I can guarantee you will feel better about your work. Your influence and success will increase and the morale and performance among your team members will grow, too.
What commitments will make for 2020?