You can do great things in 2016 if you don’t spread yourself too thin – so be ruthless and realistic about your goals!
With the New Year upon us, I am afraid I can guarantee you a few certainties to look forward to this year. Irrespective of your industry, your organisation or your role, in 2016 targets will be higher, competition will be tougher, work will be more complex, expectations will be greater and time will fly faster than ever before.
With this arduous vista ahead of us, many executives are already switching into goal-setting mode, planning what they will do differently in 2016 in order to succeed under such challenging circumstances. The natural temptation when faced with a demanding environment is to attempt to redouble your effort; to try and do it all.
Hard work is what got you here, so try and squeeze in a few more hours at work; push the team harder; do more. But like elastic bands, even the most committed people and organisations can only stretch so far. My advice to you is therefore the hardest resolution of all: in 2016 do everything in your power to keep things simple. This advice is equally applicable to how you manage yourself and how you manage your business.
Make the main thing the main thing
In managing yourself in 2016, attempt to put into practice the old maxim “the main thing is to make the main thing the main thing”. In other words, resist the attraction of too many goals; do everything in your power not to spread yourself too thin. Over a time horizon of about three months, identify no more than 2-3 primary objectives that are truly important, and then do everything you can to cut out distractions.
Not only will greater focus mean that you achieve these goals quicker, but you will allow your brain the space it needs to be more creative. Your personal engagement and energy will also increase through the simple satisfaction of getting important things done.
Research carried out by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer in Harvard Business School demonstrates that when people feel they are making progress in meaningful work, their creativity and productivity increase… And vice versa. So if you want to feel more engaged in your work in 2016, focus harder on getting a few things done quickly.
Declare war on complicatedness
This message of simplicity is equally applicable to how we manage our organisations. In talking to CEOs across multiple industries over the last few months, I have repeatedly heard the same complaint: opportunities abound, but results aren’t being delivered quick enough.
The increasing complexity of competitive markets is not the real problem however; the true challenge lies in trying to make horrendously complicated organisations more agile.
So in 2016, do your organisation a favour and declare war on complicatedness.
Eliminate unnecessary procedures and paperwork. Refine your KPIs to a handful of measures that focus on the core of your business model. De-layer your organisational structure. Enforce a ban on meetings that last longer than 45 minutes, and that contain more than five people. And please, please do everything you can to stop the spread of unintelligible acronyms that make your business a mystery to newcomers.
Whatever steps you can take, the more straightforward and accessible your organisation becomes this year, the quicker it will implement your strategies and respond to the opportunities and threats that will arise throughout the year.
So as you look forward to the year ahead, rip up your page-long list of New Year’s resolutions and goals for the next twelve months. In the ever more complex world that 2016 promises to deliver, the secret to success on both a personal and organisational level is disarmingly straightforward: strive for simplicity.
Dr. Simon Boucher is Chief Executive Officer at the Irish Management Institute. His expertise is in the areas of leadership development, leadership coaching and enabling peak performance.
Drop in to the IMI Information Evening on Wednesday, 27th January 2016 and find out how an IMI solution can help you streamline and achieve your goals in 2016. Register here