Seven Steps to Success in 2017

It’s that time of year again to think about change, improvement, and new achievements for your company in the New Year. But we know from research that 92% of all New Year’s resolutions fail. So you might ask yourself: Why bother? However, instead of giving up, you should make resolutions in a more effective way. There are many reasons why business resolutions fail. Having studied and worked with successful companies for over three decades, I know there are some secrets for success. So to get your company off to a great start, consider these tips:

  1. Set a baseline. Spend time with your team reflecting on your past accomplishments. The New Year is a perfect time to take stock of where you are and where you want to go as an organization at any level. Creating a list of your 2016 accomplishments is a good starting place.
  2. Reaffirm your vision and mission. Today’s workforce, especially Millennials, wants to be a part of an organization that makes a difference. Have you translated your purpose and mission into terms that employees can rally around? If not, take a day to work through this. Even better, you can build or update a compelling story with teams of employees from different functions and locations. This will provide you with a rallying cry that everyone understands and buys into.
  3. Help employees to reflect. Ask your employees to spend time on reflecting their life goals and the role of their work in those goals. Achieving fulfillment in life is important to nearly every person we interviewed recently in our research. Offer them resources to help that thinking – books, training, a webinar, or a mentor. What we are discovering in our research is that fulfilled employees are more productive than others because they are more aligned, capable and engaged with the organization. Unfulfilled people either leave or stay in a way that is debilitating to others.
  4. Set realistic and stretch goals that will energize people. The realistic targets should be those that you are fairly confident you can accomplish. It’s best to break those up into smaller milestones that will allow you to celebrate accomplishments throughout the year. Stretch targets create some risk and challenge, which, as we learned from our research, create greater fulfillment for people. Most of the highly fulfilled people in our study looked back to times along the way when they took risks and learned some of the best things in life.
  5. Measure, measure and measure. Vague goals never generate much momentum. A long history of psychological research tells us that goals that are specific and measureable are the most motivating and are likely to be accomplished. Nearly everything at work, even softer things like employee engagement or customer loyalty, can be measured. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth measuring.
  6. Solicit feedback. We know from years of research that performance feedback is critical in enabling people to make course corrections in pursuit of their goals. Without good feedback, we are often distracted by competing demands. Timely and frequent feedback from a respected source – a measure, customers, or a supervisor – will provide the extra boost to achieve those resolutions that otherwise will not be achieved.
  7. Hold people accountable. While most of us take responsibility for actions leading to agreed-upon goals, stuff happens. It helps to have rewards tied to the accomplishment of goals. Stretch goals should be rewarded handsomely. Rewards are the last element that will provide the finishing touches needed to keep resolutions on track.

Finally, it pays to take these steps early in the year while there is plenty of time to launch new plans and goals. Remember that it is almost impossible to accomplish stretch goals if you keep doing the same things you have done before. If you innovate and take new approaches, you’ll set yourself up for success in 2017. Bio: William A. Schiemann, Ph.D., is CEO of Metrus Group. He is a thought leader in human resources, employee engagement, and fulfillment. He is the author of Fulfilled! Critical Choices – Work, Home, Life. For more information, visit, www.wschiemann.com.