It’s a tradition to set New Year’s resolutions, and for many people, these goals involve improving things in their personal lives, like health and wealth. Consider how much time you spend on your career, however, and you’ll see it makes sense to set some resolutions relating to the workplace, too.
Try some of the following ideas to more deeply engage with your work life this year, and chances are your boss will recognize the investment.
1. Create a Culture of Mentorship
Every workplace is filled with people who have vast experience, but don’t get an opportunity to put all their knowledge to work. Take a poll around your office to see what talents and skills people have and would be willing to share with others. You may find that people who are whizzes at building complex spreadsheets would welcome the chance to pass that knowledge on to others. A mentorship can make them feel good and improve productivity and confidence among those learning new skills.
Don’t limit people to skills directly tied to work, either. The boss’s executive assistant might have a black belt in karate, and teaching a self-defense class or two could let them apply those talents and make a real difference in someone’s life.
2. Stay on Track
A good leader works with their employees to create annual performance goals. If those objectives aren’t revisited until the middle or end of the year, it could be too late to catch up. Start the New Year by scheduling a monthly meeting with yourself to review your progress. If you aren’t getting to tasks that are critical to your career, sit down with your supervisor. You might need to adjust some goals, or your boss may have to curtail outside requests that are taking you away from the strategic goals you built together.
3. Pair Complaints with Solutions
Bosses are used to having employees complain to them, but no one wants to be known as the employee who does nothing but complain. You’ll be more respected and feel more empowered if you can suggest a couple of ways to fix what’s frustrating you.
“When you identify a problem, instead of coming to me to report the problem, try to come with the problem and your proposed solution,” says Paul McHardy, Technology Specialist at USDISH. “Nothing makes a boss’s job easier than when their people are proactive in providing solutions to issues. It helps the decision-making process of what to do much easier, and you earn major bonus points for being the one to solve it.”
4. Be the Brand
The company you work for has invested a lot of resources into building a strong brand, and you represent that brand whenever you’re in the public eye.
“Any time you attend a conference, business dinner, trade show, association meeting or social event, make sure you are representing both yourself and your company in the best ways possible,” says Jessie West, M.Ed., West Coaching and Consulting. “Share your expertise on LinkedIn, speak to a business group about your company’s products and services and maintain your professional reputation when using social media.”
5. Work Smarter, Not Harder
If you aren’t already looking for ways to be more efficient at work, make this resolution a key part of your career goals this year. Believe it or not, innovators aren’t just people like Steve Jobs who change the course of an entire industry. Innovators can be people like the director of a national nonprofit who implemented the use of a shared document to keep check-in meetings with their team on track.
“If you have an organizational or another idea that would help things run more smoothly in the office, let your boss know! They will likely appreciate it . . . and implementing it could make everyone's jobs a lot easier,” says Valerie Streif, Senior Advisor with Mentat, a San Francisco–based organization for job seekers.
In the example above, creating a place where the leader and their employees could note things they needed to talk about during the week allowed for a level of preparation that made sure the check-in was efficient and effective.
Resolutions have a way of failing before January even ends. Commit to making things different with these career resolutions, and you’ll be happier with your work, your professional relationships and your outlook.
Monique Serbu is a freelance digital journalist specializing in business, marketing and technology topics. Her work can be seen on Venture Beat, MediaPost and the Stanford Blog.