Executive Careers Blog

Five New Year's Resolutions for Execs

We all know that this time of year tends to be a time for taking stock of the 12 months just gone by, and making resolutions for the year to come.

Unfortunately, for many of us, new resolutions often tend to be made in the aftermath of a holiday binge, meaning they can be both short-sighted (of course you want to lose weight after all the feasting—everybody does), and difficult to keep up with in the long run.

With that it mind, why not take the time to sit down now and think about what you'd like to achieve over the coming year—both in your personal and professional lives. Listed below are five suggestions to get even the most set-in-their-ways of execs thinking about making a change.

1) Stop losing weight (no more layoffs). Sure 2008 and 2009 were tough, and cost reductions were necessary for many firms seeking to ensure survival and remain competitive. Just like with dieting, however, there comes a point where you've shed all the fat you can, and further weight-loss can only damage the body. And, given the number of layoffs in the last two years, it's difficult to imagine that there are still companies out there carrying excess poundage at this point. If 2010 is going to be the year where a recovery is attempted, companies will need all the staff they have left, operating at the top of their games. In fact, with that in mind, why not…

2) Hire someone. That's right—create a job or two this year. If you do it right, you'll be doing several things at once: rebuilding your company; positioning yourself for growth; helping aid the recovery. And the earlier you start, the better the talent will be on offer: lots of very talented people have been victims of this economy, and 2010 is likely to be an employer's market. Why risk missing out on the cream of the crop? Or start with some temporary help if you're not sure the economy's stable enough to justify a full-time hire yet.

3) Get on Twitter. Face it: social media isn't going anywhere. And more and more companies are finding the value in leveraging free technologies to promote their brands, maintain their images, and disseminate content. If you've already dipped a toe in the water, make 2010 the year where you finally come up with a coherent social media strategy for your company. If you're still of the opinion that "I don't think people will find what I had for lunch very interesting," then you clearly haven't checked out what people—including your competitors—are using these technologies for. At the very least, make a commitment to sign up for free accounts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to find out what all the fuss is about.

4) Dare to be different. 2010 looks likely to be the year that Google takes on Apple's dominance of the smartphone market in a meaningful way. But it's not doing so by following the model that made the iPhone successful. Rather, the company is seeking to break barriers, launching a Google-branded phoneintended to be available on any network of the customer's choosing — a move that has equal potential to shake up the entire mobile telecom industry or prove a costly mistake. Meanwhile, the Comcast - NBC Universal tie-up is another example of leaders pressing forth with a bold strategy in the hopes of a big pay-off in the coming months and years. Maybe 2010 is the year you should take that unconventional or risky idea off the back burner and really think about implementing it.

5) Give something back to your employees. Pay cuts or frozen salaries. Benefit cuts. Layoffs. Increasing workloads. No feeling of job security. That's been the scenario for many employees across the country for much of the last two years. While all of those things are understandable due to the economic climate, even the smallest gesture to let staff know you appreciate their efforts will not go unnoticed—even if it's only an email thanking them for their performance. On a similar note: don't promise what you can't deliver. Most workers will understand if you explain that you can't find the funds to give them a raise this year. But if you give the impression that better times are right around the corner and the reality fails to materialize, don't be surprised if morale falls flat.

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Phil Stott is a staff writer at Vault.com in New York. Originally from Scotland, he has also lived and worked in Japan, South Korea and Eastern Europe. He holds an MA in English Literature and Modern History, and a Masters in Research in Civil Engineering, both from the University of Dundee.

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