Professional resolutions for 2016, part two

Professional resolutions are just as important as personal ones going into 2016.

With the year quickly drawing to a close, many people are making personal resolutions intended to benefit their lives and the lives of those around them in 2016. The end of the year is also a time when executives should be thinking about their professional resolutions – namely, ways to improve upon themselves as leaders and bolster their companies’ operations. Coming up with meaningful and inspired business-focused resolutions can be tricky, so in part one, we put forward the following ideas:

  1. Improve your work/life balance.
  2. Cultivate more meaningful professional relationships.
  3. Pinpoint and strengthen corporate culture at your company.

In part two, we take a look at three more resolutions that are bound to give you a solid foundation for achieving business success in 2016.

Making resolutions can help individuals kick off 2016 on a positive note, both personally and professionally.
Making resolutions can help individuals kick off 2016 on a positive note, both personally and professionally.

4. Boost employee satisfaction.
This resolution ties back to No. 3, “Pinpoint and strengthen corporate culture at your company,” as employees who are part of an organization with a strong culture tend to feel more included, involved and therefore satisfied. That being said, culture is only one piece of what can prove to be a very complex puzzle.

According to the latest iteration of the Society for Human Resource Management’s Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report, a wide range of components make up job satisfaction. In fact, the report listed 32 aspects rated as “very important” by employees, with the top five composed of:

  • Respectful treatment, regardless of workers’ positions on the organizational totem pole.
  • Trust between members of the workforce and senior management.
  • Competitive pay and benefits that make employees feel valued by the company (split into two on the list, but with a large degree of overlap).
  • Job security and confidence in the company’s long-term viability.

Other notable elements included corporate culture at No. 15, teamwork within and between departments and business units (Nos. 20 and 22), opportunities for career development at No. 25 and the organization’s commitment to corporate social responsibility and a “green” workplace at Nos. 30 and 32. With respect to those final two points, the Harvard Business Review explained in its November 2015 issue that it now regards companies’ environmental, social and governance performance (ESG) as important enough to be integrated into the metric for establishing its 100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World list.

This year’s list was the first of its kind not to be based exclusively on financial results – rather, the hard numbers were weighted at 80 percent while ESG performance made up the remaining 20 percent. As we noted in a recent article, the introduction of the ESG component had a significant impact on 2015’s rankings, with last year’s front-runner Jeff Bezos of Amazon dropping to a considerably less impressive No. 87. If ESG performance hadn’t been a factor, HBR explained, Bezos would have kept his No. 1 standing.

“Many factors go into cultivating widespread employee satisfaction across a company.”

Clearly, there are many factors that go into cultivating widespread employee satisfaction across a company, and some workforces may prioritize certain elements more highly than others. Dedicate 2016 to knowing what’s important to your employees, as putting more time, effort and resources into improving these aspects will surely have a positive effect on overall workplace satisfaction.

5. Set the stage for the next generation.
Executives at the helm of companies that are currently very successful may not have to worry about the present, but that doesn’t mean they should avoid planning for the future and coming up with ways to keep the momentum going. Millennials are composing a larger percentage of the workforce each day, and the good news is that 91 percent of Generation Yers have leadership aspirations, according to The Millennial Leadership Study conducted in partnership with WorkplaceTrends.com. The Hartford’s 2014 Millennial Leadership Survey revealed that many millennials are chomping at the bit to attain leadership positions – nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of those polled said they wanted to be leaders within the next five years.

Clearly, millennials have the will, but it’s up to the leaders of today to give them a way. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for cultivating the next generation, but common approaches include footing the bill for employees’ outside education, holding internal training sessions and pairing less experienced workers with more tenured members of the company for personalized mentorship. For years, mentorship took the traditional form of having a younger worker learn from an older employee – perhaps someone who’s preparing for retirement and is eager to pass along the knowledge he or she has accumulated over the years. However, there are also two other kinds of mentorship that have emerged over the past few years: reciprocal and reverse. Reciprocal mentorship involves both parties bringing something to the table and learning from each other, while reverse mentorship is characterized by a switch in positions between the traditional mentor and mentee, with the “green” individual sharing some of his or her expertise in a field with which the more tenured employee is less familiar, such as social media management.

Millennials can share their skills with more tenured workers via reciprocal and reverse mentorship.
Millennials can share their skills with more tenured workers via reciprocal and reverse mentorship.

“First you and your mentee will need a willingness to learn from each other,” asserted Brandify CEO Manish Patel in an article he penned for Business 2 Community earlier this year. “There will be things your young advisor will be able to teach you, but there will still be some practices you can impart on them, as well. Another thing you’ll need is trust. You’ll both be inspiring each other and encouraging one another to go beyond what you already know in search of a new way of thinking and being.”

There are numerous ways to go about setting the stage for the next generation, and some may be more appropriate for your company than others. Whichever tactics you choose, make sure you’re doing something to secure the business for future success in 2016.

6. Demonstrate better leadership.
The last of our suggestions for professional resolutions is also the most vague, but that’s by design. A word like “better” means different things to different people, which forces executives to think about what “better leadership” would look like for them as individuals. Some will be easily able to identify what they need to do to become better leaders, while others may need to apply a little more thought. For those in the latter group, begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • How well do I communicate with my colleagues, direct reports and the organization as a whole?
  • Do I know enough about my people to understand their unique strengths and weaknesses?
  • How well do I work under pressure?
  • What example do my behavior and attitude set for the rest of the company?
  • Do I practice what I preach?
  • Do I lead honestly, transparently and ethically?
  • How do I handle my workload? Do I delegate when I need to, and am I making the most of the resources available to me?
  • Do people within the company come to me with ideas, questions and concerns?

Conducting an honest self-audit is the first step toward demonstrating better leadership. Once you identify areas that need improvement, you can take the necessary action to improve your approach to leadership in the new year.

No two leaders’ professional resolutions will be exactly the same, but taking the items on this list into consideration is a good way to set some solid goals for 2016 and ultimately hit the ground running.

About Caldwell Partners
Caldwell Partners is a leading international provider of executive search and has been for more than 45 years. As one of the world’s most trusted advisors in executive search, the firm has a sterling reputation built on successful searches for boards, chief and senior executives, and selected functional experts. With offices and partners across North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific, the firm takes pride in delivering an unmatched level of service and expertise to its clients.