As 2019 starts, I have seen a number of people post or say something like – new year and fresh start. Ideally they are correct BUT realistically little to nothing will change (even with a fresh start) if we all continue to think, feel, and act the same way we did as 2018 concluded. Flipping a calendar page won’t do it – proactively changing behaviors will.
Change is hard. We naturally resist it. We think it’s great for others, but we are okay just the way we are. But, without change there can be no improvement. Without action, energy, discipline, and continued focus the goals and objectives we set this year will become even more challenging. But there are three key areas where active commitment and effort could make a HUGE difference in 2019:
1. Organizational values
A major challenge with values is few, if any, employees debate them. No one would say that integrity isn’t important or customer focus isn’t critical in business. But, here’s the catch – everyone would say their behaviors consistently support the organization’s values yet they see others whose behaviors do not. This is especially true in challenging situations. So, why not proactively:
- Take out the guess work. Clarify the most critical values-based behaviors needed to walk the talk.
- Use simple, practical measurement tools and techniques to gauge and address behaviors that are perceived to be both in- and out-of-sync with your values. Add credibility by pro-actively addressing perceived out-of-sync behaviors.
- Ensure there are consistent consequences – both positive and negative – for values. When values are actively lived they must be recognized and rewarded. If they are skipped, avoided, and/or only pulled out when convenient, then they must be proactively addressed and corrected. Double-standards and inconsistencies erode trust.
- Simulate desired values-based behaviors. We are always better prepared when we practice. Initiate ‘Value Scenarios of the Month’ for all employees and ‘Values Case Studies’ in all leadership development activities.
2. Supervisor/employee relationship.
It’s been said, rules without relationships equals resistance. The only relationship that may be more important in a business than the company-customer relationship is the manager-employee relationship. Exit-interview research shows the No.1 reason people leave their jobs is their managers. And, research also indicates ‘as much as 35% of the variability in discretionary performance of employees is a result of managerial styles and behaviors.’
Author Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” So, this year how can we make employees feel more:
- Genuinely cared for?
One of the most powerful ways to build a relationship or tear it down is time. Time always seems in short supply. Some are controlled by it while others fight against it. Build stronger, genuine relationships this year through improved quality time with employees.
3. Individual Accountability.
Mistakes happen. Assumptions and oversights occur. Sometimes people lose focus and are careless. People are not perfect. BUT, that doesn’t mean that there can’t be accountability! If there is perceived blaming, shaming, lecturing, punishing, threatening, and/or humiliating then accountability will be avoided. If failure is considered fatal for individual performance and or career advancement, then risk taking and innovation will suffer. If accountability is only talked about when something goes wrong, people will naturally associate it with something negative.
So consider focusing on the following three accountability actions this year:
- Gain true consensus on what specifically employees are AND are not accountable for.
- Watch for and proactively address people who are avoiding accountability.
- Embrace a new definition of accountability. It’s a personal choice to proactively influence, take ownership, and deliver desired results.
Instead of waiting or seeing if anything happens,take a proactive approach to Values, Relationships, and Accountability this year. Avoid reacting and responding – instead, initiate! It could be just the catalyst for change and all those critical improvements needed in 2019 and beyond.