The idea of making resolutions in the new year is often associated with using willpower and discipline to break bad habits, form new positive ones, or achieve some sort of goal. This places the resolution in the moral arena. I’m all for acknowledging moral duties, including (especially) in business, but willpower and discipline alone is often not enough to change the direction of a complex enterprise. It takes planning.

For example, let’s say you’ve recognized that the quality of your service is a problem for your business.  If the quality of your service isn’t as good as it could be, exhorting your staff to deliver better quality service will have a limited effect. If your staff is made up of the kind of people who care about quality service, they’re doing as well as they know to do now. And if they’re not, the exhortation will fall on deaf ears.

If you say “try harder to give better service,” what does that mean? And if you don’t know, how do you expect your staff to figure it out? This is where planning comes in. Careful analysis of what’s going on with your staff is what it’s going to take to convert an exhortation like “give better service” to a series of actionable steps that will actually give your staff the direction they need. For example, analyzing the situation might reveal that you need to:

  • hire more staff
  • talk to your staff and educate customers to better align expectations (i.e. figure out what a reasonable service level actually is, and tell customers what that looks like)
  • provide training on a key problem area in the service department
  • provide equipment they need to do a better job
  • reassign, or simply fire individuals in the staff that can’t or won’t follow the steps that you’ve outlined.

See how an abstract idea like “try harder,” which really only raises the stress level for you and everyone on the staff, can be transformed into a series of specific actions that you and your staff can actually do?

That’s why I feel that resolutions, well-meaning as they might be, should be directed not toward solving monumental problems, but just to the one thing you can actually do – plan out a series of actionable steps to resolve your issues.