Workplace Resolutions that Increase Productivity and Improve Culture

Amber Johnson Culture

Here’s a little exercise to help you ease your way back to work this week: 

Grab a piece of scrap paper and write down every New Year’s resolution you’ve ever made. Circle any you kept for more than a month or two.

Any circled on your list? Almost half of us have made a New Year’s resolution this year, and yet only 10 percent will manage to keep it.

Chances are, the resolutions on your list match the most common resolutions:

  • Lose Weight and Get Fit
  • Quit Smoking
  • Learn Something New
  • Eat Healthier and Diet
  • Get Out of Debt and Save Money
  • Spend More Time with Family
  • Travel to New Places
  • Be Less Stressed
  • Volunteer
  • Drink Less
It’s interesting, isn’t it, that we spend more time at work than just about any where else, and yet virtually none of our most common resolutions have to do with the work place. Up your resolve this year by setting a workplace resolution or two. Here are a few for workplace leaders to consider:

To Increase Productivity

  • Set a “Meeting-free Monday” rule: You can see a dramatic increase in productivity by reserving one day of the week for getting stuff done, rather than meeting about getting stuff done. Ask your staff to do the same. Set a goal of managing two meeting-free Monday’s per month, with a reduced schedule on the other Mondays. Block time on your calendar today.
  • Reduce the email in your life: Here’s a three step process to getting rid of the junk in your email inbox:
    1. Take 20 minutes today to unsubscribe from the email newsletters you never read.
    2. Ask your assistant to send an end-of-day update email with calendar changes and important notifications, rather than sending messages as changes occur.
    3. Think about what email you really do want, and communicate your wishes to your staff. Here’s an example:“Dear Management Team – I’m making an effort to reduce the email in my inbox so I can be more responsive to the messages that merit my time and attention. In the future, please try to only send me messages that require a response. If an ‘FYI’ message is necessary, let me know at the start of the email that a response isn’t required. You can further help me out by using specific subject lines (‘3rd quarter sales dip expected, but big contract coming early in Q4’) rather than generic subject lines (‘update on sales expectations’). Thanks for understanding.”

To Improve Culture

  • Participate: It’s been said that leadership is lonely. Sometimes it is. And sometimes it’s only so because we make it that way. Make an effort to participate in the office Fantasy Football league (no gambling, of course). Post a photo of your kids on Christmas morning to the office bulletin board of social media site like Yammer. Eat lunch in the cafeteria. Pick one way to participate each month, and reserve time on your schedule today.
  • Live and breath your values statement: Most companies have a set of five to seven corporate values that are meant to guide decision making and insure transparency and ethical leadership. But the values can’t do their job if they never leave the website or over-the-water-cooler placement. If you really want your employees to value innovation, or trustworthiness, you have to model it. Start with storytelling: at staff meetings, by email, and in one-on-one conversations, share stories of decision-making and leadership as shaped by the values you have adopted. Encourage managers and directors to do the same. Set a goal of sharing three stories a week.

What workplace resolutions do you have this year? Share your ideas in the comments section.


Amber Johnson is the Center for Values-Driven Leadership‘s corporate relations and social media advisor. She is a non-profit and small business communications professional.
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