If you’re like me, then you probably spent some time at the end of 2015 evaluating your year. You thought through successes and failures in your personal and professional life. You considered how you improved your strengths, and you observed your consistent weak spots.
Armed with that information, you then set out to set new goals for 2016. You don’t use the word “resolutions,” because you know that goals are what people achieve and resolutions are given up by January 15. Thinking through every facet of your life, you probably set specific, measurable goals for yourself and maybe even your team.
This time of the year is filled with these kinds of actions. For some reason, a new calendar year brings a sense of newness that no other date change can bring. We become incredibly ambitious about self-improvement and personal development, and we become zealous about improving the performance of our teams.
With that in mind, we take that passion to every meeting in January. We cast grand visions for a new purpose, a new core competency, or a new thought process. We read books as a team, and even go through an all day workshop where we work through a personality assessment. The short-term blitz is great.
But only for the short-term.
Just like the New Year’s Resolutions of many Americans, our leadership plans often fall apart by February or March. In fact, one study suggests that just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s Resolutions.
We return rested in January after a great holiday break, but soon the daily demands of the work cause us to lower our sights from the horizon to the runway. Instead of pushing our team towards greater goals, we spend our time putting out fires and accomplishing the next task.
In other words, we fail to build a system of consistency in our workplace.
Many of our teams don’t need anything new; what they really need is consistency. If you set a personal goal to reach a target weight this year, then you know what it takes: healthy eating and exercise. You can’t expect to reach your long-term goals by eating nothing but vegetables for 3 days and going to the gym for 4 hours once. It takes commitment to the long-term, and commitment continues to show up in spite of feelings and circumstances.
What is true for your commitment to better health is true for your leadership. Are you planning to unveil a new strategy or process for your team? Great! Are you looking for ways to improve collaboration and increase team cohesion? Fantastic!
But what are you going to do consistently that leads that change?
In his book Great by Choice, Jim Collins calls this the “20 mile march.” He uses the illustration of the two men who were both attempting to be the first to the South Pole. The team that made it first set consistent markers for their daily travels, and they hit those markers every day. The team that didn’t make it? They were incredibly inconsistent in the distance they traveled, and it cost them dearly.
I have experienced this on several different teams. Whether we read a book, went through a personality assessment, or discussed the biggest issues in the organization, I can’t think of a single time where those extensive conversations and incredible ideas were implemented consistently.
This year, don’t just decide to make great changes in your team. Don’t simply look for new processes and strategies that will propel your team forward. Make sure you develop a radical commitment to consistency.
Your team will thank you, and their work will show it.