Here we are, again this year. We have just become familiar with 2018, so little that we still make mistakes while writing the date, but we are more than ever convinced that this will be the year of change. The year in which we will achieve our goals. The year that will make the difference. What is certain is that we can not face this battle without getting armed with the only instrument that in the first days of January seems to be able to guarantee the long-awaited success: the list of New Year’s resolutions.
Man is a ritual animal and it does not matter if good decisions can be made and implemented even on an anonymous March 12, at 2:27 pm. Some days, dates and anniversaries, such as Mondays, 50th birthdays and, obviously, January 1st, have a symbolic value that goes beyond any reasoning. In addition to rituals, there is also something that we commonly call routines to keep us in hand: 95% of our thoughts are habits, as are 40% of our behavior. How sensible is then to expect that entrusting our goals to a pattern that is repeated from year to year, always with the same epilogue of failure, can instead be a winning idea for these new 365 days?
In order to truly change our results, we must change the mental paradigm, which is the way we look at ourselves and at our actions. The awareness of being ourselves, at the same time, both the jailer and the prisoner, certainly does not facilitate the task. There are countless techniques offered by literature to help us change perspective, starting from the “4 minute essays” of Dr. Frank Crane, a Boston Globe editorialist in the 1920s, to the more contemporary methods proposed by life coaches and personal development gurus. Whatever is the most effective way for each of us, it is essential to understand and internalize the idea that if we do not change mental habits, ie the processes that lead us to keep the behaviors that seem natural to us and the only possible ones, we are destined to make ineffective any resolution, however successful it may seem.
To improve your year, and set a positive trend for those to come, there are many actions that can be taken. In the workplace, as managers, workers or just students, we can choose right away a different, better 2018, by acting on some important behavioral macro-areas.
Repeating reassuring gestures and actions gives us the false sensation of having acquired a certain competence and authority at performing our job. Years of hard work, attempts and errors are rewarded by stability and prompt answers to any question that may arise. A golden cage from which we must get out as soon as possible if we do not want to stay and watch the finger while the rest of the world gets ready to reach the Moon.
A good idea to start the year is to never choose the easiest way, as a matter of principle. Addressing what makes us vulnerable is certainly difficult, regardless of the point of the hierarchical ladder where you are standing at the moment. For example, anyone who is in a managing position, should reconsider his level of control and learn to delegate, passing on his subordinates not only tasks to perform, but primarily his trust. A study published by Forbes shows that overly tight control increases the likelihood of employees leaving for a new job by 28%.
Another way to get out of your comfort zone is to hire, without fear, people who are more capable and intelligent than yourself. Management is not a place where to cultivate insecurities. Those who work as employees or study can also benefit from this simple rule. Wanting to be realistic, there will always be someone better than us, so it’s worth taking him as a model, having him in our team, rather than in the opponent’s.
To confront constructively with conflicts is without a doubt an ulterior valid method for getting out of the status quo, improving our working relationships. The conflict is unpleasant, involves tension, confrontation and direct communication. But to be able to manage the conflict effectively, it is necessary to question ourselves, confront with our employees, superiors or colleagues, thus transforming a possible pressure cooker into an opportunity for personal and professional growth.
The title of the essay by Thomas Merton means that every man is an integral component of humanity, a part of a whole. And that whole must be treated with care.
Starting to recognize the merits of others is the best way to begin implementing good intentions related to improving interpersonal relationships. Among colleagues are often used words of praise to those we consider friends, while we find ourselves commenting on the work of some others only when we must point out the errors. The same line of behavior is commonly used also by the leaders, who consider a good job as taken for granted, while they do not lose the opportunity to highlight what does not work. This mechanism leads people to self-censorship and to reduce their activities to consolidated and repetitive actions that do not involve risks, thus keeping away from the whole team the advantage of a creative thinking and individual proactivity.
When we talk about improving human relationships, we can, without hesitation, reduce the whole action to improving the communication. Speaking of communication, it is than a good idea to give priority to the ability to listen. Only when people are listened to, they feel valued, involved and finally become more productive.
Not only our limited circle of colleagues and co-workers must be taken care of, but our whole professional network too. Networking is increasingly seen as a pillar of business and as such it must be managed, following a simple rule: abandoning the perspective of ‘self’ and entering the perspective of ‘community’. The network is not a shelf from which to get what we need when we need it, but a long-term partnership for the benefit of everyone.
The work-life balance is already a mainstream theme among HR specialists and has been already explored also by BBS, but is still struggling to find its dimension in everyday life. When there is a feeling of overall satisfaction with what has been done, the energies spent and the goals achieved, the positive effects for those who work and for the company are many. A research by the international management consulting firm McKinsey & Company has shown how the policies aimed at employee well-being allow to: reduce absences and illnesses by up to 15% with an annual saving of about € 1,350 per employee; plan working days better; increase productivity by about 5% which equates to a reduction in expenditure of around € 1,600 per person and reduce the months of maternity leave with a corresponding recovery of € 1,200 per person employed.
These advantages are not to be ignored by decision-makers, while employees are responsible for becoming aware of the importance of leading a satisfying private life and organizing their working day in such a way as to make unnecessary most of the activities usually protracted beyond office hours.
Not only reaching the balance between private life and work, but also that between the importance of the individual and the team can become a good resolution to make this 2018 end better than how it started. Being able to work in a group is currently one of the most requested soft-skills by companies and a close-knit team is certainly the paramount goal for every organization. At the same time, however, a good manager should not forget that the group is made up of individuals with different skills, ambitions and personalities that need to be taken into account. A good leader must be able to integrate the needs of the group with that of the individual, to enhance and exploit the added value of both dimensions. On the other hand, the employees must find a meeting point between the devotion to the common cause and the need to leave the group’s protection to pursue personal development.
Whatever your personal goals for 2018 are, make sure to start off with solid foundations. Being aware of the mental patterns and behaviors that make us go in the opposite direction to our plans, it is necessary to immediately eliminate activities, habits, events and priorities that cause a great consumption of energy but scarce results. Having identified our goals, may they be several or just one, we must act immediately. In this exact moment, even if it is not Monday, neither the first day of the month nor the first of the year.