If you're like many people right now, your resolutions and plans for change and improvement are quickly taking shape for the new year. Before you commit to a course of action and improvement, however, consider this question:
Are you – or is your company – really change-friendly?
Or are you really just (and maybe barely) change-tolerant?
Or, perhaps, is your expressed desire for change and improvement, honestly, more of a marketing pitch?
The first step to successful change is preparing for it.
Here are seven tips for getting ready for real change and improvement before the calendar and clock turn over to a new year:
1. Seek progress rather than perfection
Perfection, and the pursuit of it, can be either inspiring or intimidating. Lower the pressure. Encourage and reward progress, whatever it is. Excellence takes time. It comes as the result of learning, experience, paying attention, and continuously making improvement.
2. Set a clear target
Make sure you know what your target is. Make sure everyone in your company knows what your target is, too:
– Who are your primary customers?
– What do they want?
– And what are their priorities, if they want more than one thing from you?
What if you do not know who your customers are, or what they want? That's clearly the first order of the new year: find out.
Listen to your customers. Listen to your employees. And listen to yourself. Pay attention to the details. They make a big difference.
Ask these questions of your customers, employees, and yourself, too:
– What do you want?
– What are your priorities?
– How are things working now?
– What are the barriers now to achieving success?
– What ideas do you have for improvements?
4. Learn to learn easily and often
Master the process of mastering new information and skills. Whatever your job, you need to be able to learn, change and improve for there are very few jobs that stay the same, year after year.
5. Be or become idea-friendly
Reward people who are focused on making a better future. That's not to say that all their ideas will be great ideas. But it's important to tap and grow their initiative to focus attention, energy, experiments and action on problems and opportunities. Direct their efforts toward your target. Help them to put their great initiative to good use.
6. Be clear about where people can take their great ideas to put them to work
Employees at many companies have great enthusiasm and ideas, but feel they are not being heard. Let people know where to take their ideas, if they want to put them into play.
7. Create rewards that reward initiative and progress toward change
Do not wait to reward just final results. Create rewards for target-focused initiative, teamwork and action focused on the process of reaching desired final results. Be mistake-tolerant, for learning, improvement and change does not often take a simple, straight path.