Seven Steps to Success in 2017

January 5th, 2017, Comments Off on Seven Steps to Success in 2017.

It’s that time of year again to think about change, improvement, and new achievements for your company in the New Year. But we know from research that 92% of all New Year’s resolutions fail. So you might ask yourself: Why bother? However, instead of giving up, you should make resolutions in a more effective way. There are many reasons why business resolutions fail. Having studied and worked with successful companies for over three decades, I know there are some secrets for success. So to get your company off to a great start, consider these tips:

  1. Set a baseline. Spend time with your team reflecting on your past accomplishments. The New Year is a perfect time to take stock of where you are and where you want to go as an organization at any level. Creating a list of your 2016 accomplishments is a good starting place.
  2. Reaffirm your vision and mission. Today’s workforce, especially Millennials, wants to be a part of an organization that makes a difference. Have you translated your purpose and mission into terms that employees can rally around? If not, take a day to work through this. Even better, you can build or update a compelling story with teams of employees from different functions and locations. This will provide you with a rallying cry that everyone understands and buys into.
  3. Help employees to reflect. Ask your employees to spend time on reflecting their life goals and the role of their work in those goals. Achieving fulfillment in life is important to nearly every person we interviewed recently in our research. Offer them resources to help that thinking – books, training, a webinar, or a mentor. What we are discovering in our research is that fulfilled employees are more productive than others because they are more aligned, capable and engaged with the organization. Unfulfilled people either leave or stay in a way that is debilitating to others.
  4. Set realistic and stretch goals that will energize people. The realistic targets should be those that you are fairly confident you can accomplish. It’s best to break those up into smaller milestones that will allow you to celebrate accomplishments throughout the year. Stretch targets create some risk and challenge, which, as we learned from our research, create greater fulfillment for people. Most of the highly fulfilled people in our study looked back to times along the way when they took risks and learned some of the best things in life.
  5. Measure, measure and measure. Vague goals never generate much momentum. A long history of psychological research tells us that goals that are specific and measureable are the most motivating and are likely to be accomplished. Nearly everything at work, even softer things like employee engagement or customer loyalty, can be measured. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth measuring.
  6. Solicit feedback. We know from years of research that performance feedback is critical in enabling people to make course corrections in pursuit of their goals. Without good feedback, we are often distracted by competing demands. Timely and frequent feedback from a respected source – a measure, customers, or a supervisor – will provide the extra boost to achieve those resolutions that otherwise will not be achieved.
  7. Hold people accountable. While most of us take responsibility for actions leading to agreed-upon goals, stuff happens. It helps to have rewards tied to the accomplishment of goals. Stretch goals should be rewarded handsomely. Rewards are the last element that will provide the finishing touches needed to keep resolutions on track.

Finally, it pays to take these steps early in the year while there is plenty of time to launch new plans and goals. Remember that it is almost impossible to accomplish stretch goals if you keep doing the same things you have done before. If you innovate and take new approaches, you’ll set yourself up for success in 2017. Bio: William A. Schiemann, Ph.D., is CEO of Metrus Group. He is a thought leader in human resources, employee engagement, and fulfillment. He is the author of Fulfilled! Critical Choices – Work, Home, Life. For more information, visit,

Great Expectations

December 20th, 2016, Comments Off on Great Expectations.

As small and mid-market businesses gear up for the holiday season, they are optimistic about sales and predict growth for the next quarter and into 2017. This is according to the American Express Holiday Growth Pulse, a survey of 1,502 small and middle-market businesses across a variety of industries. Specifically in the retail industry, nearly six in ten (59%) small-business retailers think holiday sales will be stronger compared to last year, and 34% think they will be roughly the same as last year. Small-business retailers (companies with fewer than 100 employees and annual revenues of $250,000 or greater) are not alone in their positive outlook – 81% of middle-market retailers (companies with $10 million to $1 billion in annual revenues) also feel sales will be stronger than last year.

As small businesses anticipate a successful holiday season, they plan to spend more than last year to thank current customers with gifts and reward employees with more generous holiday parties. More than seven in ten (71%) small businesses will spend money on holiday gifts for clients or customers this year. On average they will spend a total of $6,700–an increase of $1,330 over 2015. Almost nine in ten (87%) middle-market companies also plan to give holiday gifts to clients and customers. In terms of small business’ plans for staff this holiday season, more than two-thirds (69%) plan to host a holiday party or a get-together. For those hosting a holiday party, the average amount they expect to spend is $3,000, which is a $900 increase over that of last year.

In the near term, growth overall is the top priority for small and middle-market companies across industries. Roughly three quarters (74%) of small businesses and more than nine in ten (91%) middle-market companies identify growth as their top priority. As they consider expansion, 59% of small businesses expect their business to grow over the next quarter–with half saying their company will be ‘making gains’ (50%), and nearly one in ten saying their company will be ‘expanding by leaps and bounds’ (9%).

Causes for concern

Despite their positive outlook and focus on growth, there are causes for concern during this holiday season:

  • Employee productivity (41%) and data security (38%) will be greater concerns during the holidays than during any other time of the year for small businesses from various industries.
  • For middle-market companies across industries, employee productivity is the greatest cause for concern around the holidays (24%) and 78% agree that employee productivity will be a greater concern at their company during the holidays than during any other time of the year. Additionally, 76% agree that data security will be a greater concern during the holidays than during any other time of the year.

The American Express Holiday Growth Pulse is based on a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. small business owners/managers, defined for the purposes of this survey as companies with fewer than 100 employees and annual revenues of $250,000 or greater, and 502 middle market companies, defined for the purposes of this survey as companies ranging in size from $10 million to $1 billion in annual revenues. The anonymous survey was conducted online among financial decision makers, owners and managers from October 4-16, 2016.

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