sealPurdue News

December 17, 2001

'Tis the season – for managers to make New Year's resolutions

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue University organizational leadership professor says managers should adapt traditional New Year's resolutions to their jobs.

"The job of the manager is continual improvement of his or her organization," says Dan Lybrook, associate professor of organizational leadership and supervision in Purdue's School of Technology.

"The way managers improve is the same way individuals strive to improve by making New Year's resolutions. They revolve around three themes – self-discipline, personal development and achieving a healthy work-life balance.

"Resolutions, in their truest sense, begin with honest reflections about oneself and one's behavior. Improvements in the organization depend to a large extent on the improvement of individual managers."

Lybrook says the tradition of New Year's resolutions dates to the early Babylonians more than 4,000 years ago. Popular modern resolutions are promises to lose weight or quit smoking. The early Babylonians’ most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment.

Here is Lybrook's suggested list of resolutions for managers, which are adapted from traditional New Year's resolutions:

1. Do unto others ... "There will always be more to do than you have time. But being successful is about building healthy relationships with your employees that work. Even when the issues are the most important things, people don't remember what you say. They remember how you made them feel."

2. Quit smoking/lose weight. "This is about self-discipline, about our not doing something that we think we enjoy. Discipline is an important part of success. How can you expect discipline from your people if you can not discipline yourself? You have to walk the talk. The most powerful role model for employees is their supervisor. In fact, you are the best predictor of your department's performance."

3. Get to work on time every day. "Another discipline resolution. Don’t just meet deadlines. Beat them. Get to meetings five minutes early."

4. Tell the truth. "It sounds simple. But the No. 1 fault of managers is performance inflation in evaluating employees. Managers tell people what they want to hear. But that's a short-term conflict-avoidance mentality. Good managers think long term. Tell your employees how they're doing, honestly. This is how you build respect and trust."

5. Do your best. "Another simple-sounding resolution, and also an essential attitude. Only you can control your attitude. It is up to you to give your best effort no matter the task. If you do this on a consistent basis, you and your people will be successful."

6. Be a better friend. "Show your employees you care. Strive for the personal touch. Ask about the employee's family. Be creative in the ways you show you care. You'll start an upward spiral of morale in your company or organization."

7. Lower your golf handicap. "This is a metaphor for personal improvement. Everyone has his or her own personal 'golf' they want to improve. The key is practice. But practice productively and strategically. Figure out where the most results come from and spend your time there. In golf, most of the strokes are taken close to the greens (chipping and putting), so don't spend all your time on the driving range. Productive practice becomes a way of thinking."

8. Take a class "just for me." "This is work-life balance. Those who are not going forward are losing ground in today's marketplace. Keep learning – whether it's job-related or not. Keep your mind alive to new knowledge and new ideas This will keep you fresh and renewed continually."

9. Pay off credit cards. "More self-discipline, but of the fiscal variety. Spend the company's or organization's money as if it were your own. Model fiscal restraint to your employees. This contributes to the company's bottom line, success and what it can do for its employees."

10. Keep your resolutions. "This is the most difficult of all, of course. Some tips on making resolutions work: Make a symbolic contract with yourself by writing your resolutions down. Then, put them on Post-It notes and put them up in the office where you can see them several times a day."

Writer: J.M. Lillich, (765) 494-2077,

Source: Dan Lybrook, (765) 494-7676 (office), (765) 746-1710 (home),

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A publication-quality photograph of Dan Lybrook is available at Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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