by Jonathan Males
As we enter a new year, our thoughts invariably shift to the year ahead – goals, aspirations, resolutions and new habits to acquire. Many of us make commitments to change a few things, but the stats suggest that we struggle to stick with these – and recent research shows that by 19th January, we’ve usually abandoned our resolutions – “ditch day”!
We offer an alternative way of thinking and approaching about improvement and change in 2024. Instead of diving into rash resolutions, focus on the big picture – think about what skills you need to perform well in 2024, and then make a plan to equip yourself to do so. It’s what we call the “Two Strategy” approach to improvement.
Strategy 1 Ask yourself - “What new skills do I need?”
The world of work is changing fast, so strategy 1 is essential. Of the many new skills at our disposal, we suggest the most pressing (and that is impacting almost everyone) is learning to use Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Whether you fear this as the rise of Terminator or as the best thing since sliced bread, AI is here, and we ignore it at our peril. It took Uber 70 months to get to 100 million users, Instagram took 30 months, Tik Tok took nine. ChatGPT got there in two months. There are other platforms include Perplexity and Google Bard, let alone the applications running behind the scenes that organise your emails or choose what music to play next on Spotify. If you don’t know where to start, convene a conversation with your team. Chances are that someone you work with is already experimenting so ask them to share their experience. Then have a go yourself and explore. My first experience with ChatGPT was positive, when I used it to generate ideas for a book title. I entered the first couple of pages of the introduction and asked it to suggest a title for my target audience. What followed felt like a conversation with a very well-informed assistant, who could generate ideas, respond to feedback and search the web in an instant – and didn’t need coffee. As it happened, we have chosen a different title to any of ChatGPT’s suggestions, but the process certainly moved my thinking along.
Strategy 2 - What old skills need re-visiting?
We’ve long been advocates of doing the basics very well, before looking for ‘new and shiny’ tools and techniques. In terms of healthy high performance at work, here are two fundamentals that, ideally, you will have ingrained as habits in your working culture. Yet like any habit, each one can start to slip over time or under pressure.
Any training for new managers will include delegation. It’s one of the first things you will have learned in your career. It’s the key lever for improving productivity and enabling a manager to maximise their impact and lift their role from being an individual contributor. The guidelines are straightforward and most experienced leaders could, if asked, give a clear description of how to delegate: be specific, set clear expectations around timing, quality and cost, agree when you’ll check in, and be available to offer support when asked. Yet how often, when busy, under pressure, or just distracted, might you forget to delegate well? Can you check with your team and ask for feedback on how well you’re delegating?
This is the counterpoint to effective delegation. Put simply, it means to “do what you say you will do.” Yet lack of follow through is probably the biggest factor likely to derail high performance. Without attention to this fundamental it’s all too easy to drift into the domain of unfulfilled promises, incomplete actions, and churning around the same topics in meetings. Are you maintaining a language of accountability that is direct and honest, that includes knowing when and how to say ‘no’ or ‘not yet’?
At Mezzana Partners, we’re passionate about helping people thrive at work. Talk to us about how you can improve (and thrive) in 2024.
And for more insight into how to create healthy high performance at work, check out Jonathan’s new book, The Work Revolution, available here >