What is it about the month of December that just sort of naturally gets people in a reflective mood?
The obvious answer is that December constitutes the end of the year. And, for whatever reason, the end of the year is the most natural time to give thanks, take a deep breath or two and engage in an objective assessment of what you can do to improve something in the year to come.
Enter “the New Year’s resolution!” This is where (statistically speaking) pretty much all of us contract with ourselves in one way or another to be “better.” Sometimes we share specific clauses of this contract with others in hopes of incenting those closest to us to act as personal resolution supervisors (e.g., “Don’t eat that!” “Shouldn’t you be at the gym?” “I thought you were going to start being nice to her?” etc.).
Many times (because we value the relationships we have with those closest to us) we keep our resolutions to ourselves. In those cases, we absorb the responsibilities associated with self-supervision. This strategy is often given credit for coining the term “rationalization.”
Be that as it may, what are the kinds of things people are resolving to do next year? From an informal poll, the most common 2014 resolutions for working adults are:
EAT HEALTHY AND EXERCISE REGULARLY
A “fun fact” on this one: over the last five years, sales of fitness memberships in January have been just about equal to the sales of chocolate in February! Additionally, according to “Time Magazine,” “… 60% of gym memberships sold in January each year go unused and attendance figures at gyms around the world are ‘back to normal’ by Valentine’s Day.”
For many, less alcohol intake is “joined at the hip” with resolution #1. You also have to factor in the reality that many of these contracts are entered into on or about New Year’s Day. Perhaps somewhat coincidentally, New Year’s Day is the unofficial conclusion of the holiday season. And, for many of us, the holiday season could best be described as a two-week string of intermittent family and social get-togethers that bear a striking similarity to a good old-fashioned fraternity/sorority road trip over spring break. Not surprisingly, over half of these resolutions don’t make it past Super Bowl Sunday.
BETTER WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Odds are that, if you are reading this blog (and thank you for that, by the way), you are “successful.” By that we mean you have a job (or jobs) that, in Maslow terms, satisfies your “lower-order needs” (i.e., physiological; safety; perhaps even a big chunk of your social “drivers”). It is also a safe bet that your job is characterized by an endless set of increasing expectations and demands on what used to be discretionary time. Resolutions intended to balance personal needs with the increasing expectations and demands of one’s job frequently fall by the wayside when they come face to face with the reality of what those resolutions put at risk (i.e., the job itself and all that it allows you and/or your family to enjoy).
So, where are we going with this? (We thought we would throw that question in just in case it hadn’t occurred to you.) We ask you to consider the annual proliferation of New Year’s resolutions as nothing more than mini, personalized change initiatives. Almost invariably they are difficult. They represent curtailing or stopping something that has become second nature or starting something we have skillfully managed to avoid up until now. Beyond that, a resolution/change is frequently defined by risks that are much easier to address hypothetically and from a distance than they are to look square in the face, confront and work your way through.
If you are like 92% of other modern-era working adults around the globe, you have made a personal New Year’s resolution (maybe even one of the three listed above). As it applies to those journeys, we steadfastly wish you the absolute best of luck!
As it applies to your role and responsibility as a training professional, we offer three resolutions for your consideration in 2014 below (Application Challenge). From our perspective, if each of us identified (and followed through) on one or more of these, our industry would be much improved by New Year’s Day 2015!
On behalf of all of us, best of luck and have the best year ever!
Consider the following New Year’s resolutions. Pick one (or three!), apply all you know about effectively managing change and see it through!
- ENGAGEMENT: Critically review the content of your programs from the lens of learner engagement. Identify at least one upgrade you could make to each offering that would increase the connection each learner makes between the training they are in the middle of and the job they are responsible to perform.
- SUSTAINMENT: Improve training transfer by targeting the next-level managers of the learners that will attend/participate in your training this year. Develop a time-sensitive tool, system or protocol that fully integrates the objectives of your training with the ongoing performance management and coaching those next-level managers provide.
- MEASUREMENT: In support of resolutions 1 and 2, draw a line in the sand! Refuse to provide training that doesn’t include comprehensive evaluation of Kirkpatrick’s Level I and Level III outcomes (i.e., Were learners engaged during training and are they implementing what they learned on the job?).