What does it take to be ‘better’ than last year?

There are a number of seasoned business and marketing experts making money out of positioning themselves to help us have a better year than last year.

Selling products and services to help us upgrade challenging and unrealistic resolutions we’ve already failed at to more quantifiable objectives – and those objectives to action oriented goals.

Working through their processes will provide, they say, more meaning and more focus and allow us to really concentrate on small steps that get us closer to bigger achievements.

I had planned to write my own first post of 2015 on how I go about it. I still might, but the point to observe in most advice about goal setting is that it often fails to address two elements. Specificity and commitment.

Any plan needs to be have a long term win, a detailed approach and an understanding of the commitment required to achieve it.

All this is backed up by current published research I read from Forbes.com and the University of Scranton which suggests 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail.

So, what does it take to better than last year?

Most new year plans cover areas like work, personal finance and health. So, consider these scenarios:

1. You want to deliver A SET AMOUNT OF new business to your company.

There are lots of ways to start. Create more engaging content and serve it up to people where they want it. Set up more landing pages to secure their contact details and to start a conversation. Run pay per click campaigns with time sensitive offers. Speak at events and again make exclusive offers.

But starting isn’t enough. What do these new customers look like? Where are they? What are they in the business of? What problems do they have? Why should they buy from you? What is it going to take to convince them to give you a shot?

Winning new clients takes diligence and commitment to that fixed end point ensuring every task you undertake along the way gets you closer to where you want to be.

2. You want a new job.

You could register with recruitment agents. Apply for positions you see advertised. Ask your connections for referrals.

But that will only get you so far too. Think about what you enjoy, what you’re good at, what you have demonstrable experience in and look to match. Identify companies you want to work for and approach them.

Remember, your honed and relevant CV sent direct offers a 20% saving in recruitment fees to the potential hirer and could well get you through the door.

3. You want to lose weight this year.

Joining the gym is one way. Going regularly is another. You could go further by disrupting your training by doing different things every day. Stepping away from the biscuit tin or the liquor shelf another.

So when setting goals for the long term, think through the incremental steps, the why, when and how? Break your progress down into achievable steps.

Being better than last year means taking a leap of faith today, and everyday. It starts right here, right now. Are you with me?

Training Day

We’ve all attended dull, uninspiring training sessions. Yet we know that we are more likely to enjoy, learn and apply new techniques and thinking if it is delivered in a more engaging way. (Isn’t this why we naturally migrate towards the visual in all things viral – videos, animations, audio – and then share and discuss it with friends, family and colleagues. Because we want to be associated with the cool?)

I digress. So, how to make training and learning fun?

In preparing for some in-house training sessions, I recalled the learning pyramid I’ve used in a previous life. The statistics that underpin it are staggering.

From this, it is reasonable to deduce that any good training session needs to include a mix of presentation, demonstration and application.

Here’s how I structure even a one hour training session:

1. Introduction and pooled aims (what do attendees want out of it) – this achieves engagement.

2. A quick icebreaker (what do you know) – to establish base level of understanding . Guard against using icebreakers to soften the group socially, this can lead to a lazy session.

3. Provide some brief context (linking to aims and icebreaker) and some definitions.

4. Main presentation/lecture containing the core information you want them to take away. Keep this light and remember, repitition, repitition, repitition.

5. Optional video reinforcement. Ideally something that is either smart, cool or funny works best. Even better if it involves a brand that means something to the assembled group. Don’t run a boring corporate showreel.

6. Application exercise – the core part of the session. Breaking the group into pairs or smaller groups and encouraging them to graple with specific problems. Make it decision and time sensitive, as there is nothing like working under a bit of pressure.

7. Feedback. Ensure there is sufficient time for everyone to get their moment in the sun. It’s amazing how empowering this can make people feel, especially those team members that rarely speak up in group situations.

8. Summary. Throughout, you the trainer, are making notes ready to provide feedback and closing thoughts at the end, reinforcing the messages of the session.

9. Review of aims. Check back to the aims of the session and the content presented and discussed. Offer enough time for questions, either in the group or as a one-to-one.

10. Follow up. Statistics show that learnings tail off dramatically even three months after a training session. To combat these, provide materials, set up a working group and encourage everyone to keep talking and discussing. Ask for evaluation and tailor re-runs and refreshers in the future based on the feedback.

It all takes work, but great teachers and great training sessions are worth their wait in gold, and lead to better informed and motivated teams in your workplace.