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June O'Sullivan, LEYF CEO

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Welcome to 2013: dump resolutions and LOL.

I have long rejected beginning the New Year with a hangover, and am even less keen to create a bunch of resolutions that rarely survive the month of January, let alone come to fruition in the long run. For me, the process seems far too negative and self-defeating, and in my experience typically short-lived.

My assumptions were pleasantly confirmed in an article in the daily oracle, otherwise known as The Metro. Apparently, 40% of people give up their resolutions within a fortnight – not surprisingly as the highest percentage of resolutions are about giving up something they like! (Food, chocolate, wine etc…). Whatever happened to my Grandmother’s favourite saying, ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’? I suppose the key word here is ‘little’.

Lack of will power is the main reason we rarely stick to resolutions, along with the fact that old habits die hard and no one copes well with change, even if it is good. At this point, I think we would do well to remember the words of Darwin, who says:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives,
nor the most intelligent that survives.
It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

So perhaps we need a different mindset. If having the will power to break old habits is our Achilles Heel, let’s turn on it and make the whole process more successful; let’s focus on just a handful of more positive and achievable goals to start the New Year (and ones that may yet help us prepare for the triple dip recession, British winter weather, overdraft accounts after Christmas holidays, travel fare rises on public transportation, dreaded inflation, high childcare costs for parents, local authority cuts and all the rest of the doom and gloom that keeps the media smiling).

In essence, let’s do more of what we do well in the following ways:

Make work as happy a place as possible. The O2 Mobile study found that one in three of us make most of our friends at work, more than school or university.

Communicate more. Lack of communication is the top complaint of the unsatisfied employee. My suggestion? Try over-communicating a little bit. Make a list of the ways you currently engage with peers and then test which of these matter the most to your organisation. Wise men talk of seven different methods of communication. Staff and hopefully experience will soon let you know when you are sharing too much. (Save that for Reality TV).

Be more visible. Consider if you can do more MBWA (Management by Walking Around). Think about how you connect with staff and find out what helps them feel engaged. Be positive and genuine. Employees want and require feedback constantly. Even the smallest feedback can generate a great response from an employee. Think about ways to show the staff you care and are listening to them.

Support more staff in their professional growth and development. As an employer, giving additional responsibility to a hard working employee can be quite rewarding for both parties. Big bonuses, pay rises, and trips aren’t in the budget but we can always afford tea and cake. Too often leaders think that if a big raise to the team is not possible then there is little point in attempting to do anything else. Training opportunities, conferences, visits or any activity that can contribute to the professional development of your team can be quite inspiring to an employee. A little creativity can go a long way.

Keep people engaged in the vision of the organisation. Many of the happiest employees work for companies where they feel there is a clear sense of direction and they know how they are contributing towards achieving the vision.

Keep a sense of humour; it will ground you in the most trying times.

And if you are already stuck with the last one, here is something that will make you chuckle: Eric Pickles’ suggestions for local authority efficiency savings Fifty ways to save is as weirdly funny as Fifty Shades of Grey (and would make a great episode of The Simpsons. LOL).

I wish you all the best for 2013!

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