New Year’s resolutions come in all shapes and sizes and often focus on health, personal, family, or even business endeavors. The question is: Should you really need a resolution to make your business more successful this year?

Many years ago, I was an in-home HVAC salesman working for a high-quality residential contractor. If I was leaving the office at the end of the day at a reasonably normal quitting time, I would walk by my boss’s office and let him know I was heading home. Every time, without fail, he would ask me: “Have you done everything possible today to bring as much business into this company as you can?” And, every time, without fail, I would respond, “Well, yes, unless you would like me to pick up the phonebook, start calling people, and ask them if I could come by and give them an estimate for a new system.”

Now, for those of you who don’t know, there used to be only one phone company. This company would actually publish a large book that listed every community member’s name, address, and associated phone number.

This was the only way you could obtain such information. I know, it sounds crazy.

The reason I could answer “Yes” to his question was because I really had done everything in my power to be as successful as I possibly could. Back then, we never had any sales goals or contests to motivate the sales staff to produce. You simply knew that, at all times, you had to present yourself, the product, and your company in the best way possible; showing value every step of the way. Every element of the sales process and presentation had to be as good and professional as it could be if you were planning to walk out of that house with a signed contract. In addition to my role as a salesperson, I was heavily involved in the marketing of the company and its advertising efforts. I was constantly observing marketing efforts from competitors and other companies outside of our industry. I regularly approached my boss with new ideas of how to make the phone ring. While my job was to run sales calls, I always considered my position in the company to be far more than that.

If we are not trying to do our jobs to the best of our ability at all times, then exactly what are we doing? If you do have established goals in your company or goals that are set before you, are you actually trying as hard as you can to reach those goals and then sitting back and coasting for the rest of the month? Personally, I don’t see this as an option. Coasting is far from being an important element of a plan for success. Now, there certainly are times when you need to sit back and rest. Evenings, weekends, and vacations are perfect times to relax and recharge your batteries for the next run. In fact, I believe that scheduling down-time is one of the most important ways you can assure that you can continue to perform at your peak, day after day, week after week, and so on. I’ve tried the pedal-to-the-metal lifestyle in the past, and I speak from experience that being purposeful about leaving work behind both physically and mentally is essential for long-term success.

Compare your daily success to playing a competitive sport. If you’re not playing to win, why play in the first place? If we’re not in there playing hard on every down, then why exactly are we waking up every morning and making the drive to work?

I was employed by a few HVAC companies before I started my own company. While I’m certainly not claiming to be perfect, I am saying I had a very high awareness that when I was at work, my job was to perform at the highest level possible for the entire time I was there working. When I was in sales, that usually went way beyond an eight-hour day. Of course, this was before the days smart devices constantly competed for our attention. I’ve made it clear to all the people I work with that engaging in personal use of social media and the internet while at work is basically stealing time from the company. While I’m not oblivious to reality, I’m committed to keeping the facts out in the open and not pretending like I don’t know what’s going on in that area. Sales goals, key performance indicators, and measuring growth and progress are all important elements of establishing a road map for the success of any company or any person for that matter. I am a full believer in using data to measure how effective efforts are and where improvement is needed or success is occurring. However, I do not believe that sales goals or KPI’s should be used as a motivator to drive effort. Sure, a short-term contest or motivational competition is a great way to inject some energy within a department, but I would hope this sort of program would only serve as an enhancement to a highly functioning team of professionals.

Now to be specific about my New Year’s resolutions, I do admit that every Jan. 2 I embark on a crusade to increase my exercise habits and severely decrease my food intake. This could be viewed as a resolution to diet and work out more, but I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. It is simply a result of throwing caution to the wind for the holidays, knowing that I can’t afford to buy a new wardrobe in the next size up. Also, I’m going to have to fit back into my bathing suit in a few months. Thus, my resolution this year and every year — no more resolutions.

Publication date: 1/16/2017

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