Make a workplace resolution and stick to it

For many, a new year represents a new start, a chance to set one or more resolutions to improve.

But according to one estimate, a quarter of us will have already abandoned our goals by the end of this week. And less than half will make it six months.

However, experts say that is no reason to avoid making resolutions.

“It’s a good idea to have resolutions and the new year is as good a time as any because it serves as a focal point,” says Madan Pillutla, professor of organisational behaviour at London Business School, which has a campus in Dubai.

“It’s the start of something new and maybe things are going to be different this year than they were last year. It’s a good idea to have these resolutions.”

Saying you want to improve your timekeeping in social situations or lose a few pounds is easy, but how do you come up with resolutions for the workplace?

Professor Pillutla, who is based in London but visits the UAE to teach, suggests asking people you work with for an honest appraisal about habits or behaviours that are irritating to others.

“It could be a lack of timely response. It could be being very demanding on people, whatever people say you are doing that is irritating to other people. And then you can make a resolution to remove the top two irritants that are there for other people in the way you conduct yourself,” he says.

Your resolution could also be related to a personal goal, such as maximising your performance. To improve on that you have to work out what prevented you from achieving that last year.

However, be sure and make your resolution realistic, otherwise it is doomed to fail.

About 60 per cent of us will make a resolution this year we have already failed with before. And each time we will examine it and look at the reasons why it failed and we say those reasons will not happen again, but something else might come up.

“The biggest thing is that people need to be honest with themselves and say that if the vast majority of times I have failed to achieve this resolution, this is not a resolution that I need to be making,” adds Prof Pillutla.


Madan Pillutla, professor of organisational behaviour at London Business School, reveals the work resolution he has failed to stick to:

What resolutions do you personally need to make?

I tend to be really bad at responding to emails. I have good intentions. I always say the minute I get any email and it’s from someone important – and even if it’s not – I need to respond, but I always postpone it and eventually tend to forget to respond. If I look back at the reasons why this is, every year I say I’m going to be a little different but it’s never happened.

How do you plan to fix it?

Leaving it to myself is not going to work because it never has, so I need to think about how I can make a difference. Do I give my secretary access to my email so he or she could take a look at what I am not responding to and remind me at the beginning of the day by saying you need to respond to the following emails?

Say you have continually failed with a resolution but you really want to conquer it. How do you do that?

It is very tempting to say who cares about this resolution, I will make a fresh start with the next one. But I should be mindful and say why should the next one be different? It’s going to be the same thing again the next time. I might as well work hard on this and finish this up. That requires a lot of discipline and a lot of mindfulness on our part, otherwise we won’t learn from it.

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