What happened to those New Year Resolutions?

18/01/2018 — Graeme Smith

I’m sure many of us look to the ground in embarrassment when we realise that we didn’t even keep our New Year resolutions to the end of the month. My New Year resolution was to do ‘Dry January’ and so far I’ve managed to stick to it, but as I write this article the thought of a nice pint during the rugby match at St Peter is starting to tempt me to waver. Creating and maintaining change can be difficult!

It’s the same in business where change can be an even harder thing to implement successfully. We might start the year by adjusting the odd process or two but invariably within a short time we return to our tried and tested ways of working.

As a result, we don’t recognise the need or value of long-term change. Instead we maintain the status quo and miss the opportunity to ‘navel gaze’ and think of what might be. The problem though, is that somebody else will be out there spending time wondering ‘what if’ and inevitably one of those innovators will develop the new business idea that will have a massive impact on our own businesses.

So my assertion is that we all have to have capacity and time to innovate and the bravery and mindset to try new things. It’s only a question of having the commitment and resolve to challenge the status quo.

You don’t need to have a separate ‘R&D’ team to do this. You can simply allocate dedicated time away from the day to day running of the business to go and research the newest innovation in your sector, even if this is being trialled in another location or country. You never know, you might like what you see and then you are one step closer to incorporating this change into your own business.

Once you decide to try something different the hardest thing can be sticking to it when some aspect of it doesn’t quite work. It can be all too easy to give up and go back to the old ways. A bit like giving up on my Dry January!

Successful innovators though see setbacks and failure as a learning experience and adapt and then adapt again until they get it right. They use early failures as motivation to try even more change.

You can’t do this on your own though, so you need to bring your team with you. Don’t just drive through your change idea irrespective of the teams views and concerns. Do take time to articulate your vision, take time to listen to their feedback in an open manner and do adapt to the responses you are getting.

You may not achieve a consensus amongst your team on all matters, but as long as you have genuinely engaged with them they are more likely to put all their efforts into making the change work. Without their engagement, no matter how good the ideas are, they will not work out as well as you hope. But then you have to lead.

Don’t underestimate the power of inviting challenge and scrutiny from those you trust in your support network. Business and leadership can be a lonely place, and without doubt you will need constructive challenge and positive affirmation in equal parts.

That’s where we at Jersey Business can help you. Our advisers have direct experience of running private sector businesses in various industries and we are able to pool our real life knowledge and experience to be the sounding board you really need.

We know from our independent survey that almost 70% of client respondents in both start-up and established businesses are using our ‘confidential sounding board’ service and gaining in confidence as a result.

So perhaps I should reassess my own New Year’s resolution and have a more permanent long-term commitment to change. Instead of Dry January I’ll resolve to have a more healthy lifestyle, allowing myself a nice pint of beer (just one) but also taking up my wife’s suggestion of a long bike ride each weekend.

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