… where resolutions are made how to do better next year. Many are of the type « to do something new or different » fewer are of the type « to stop something ».
William Lyon McKenzie King, the former Canadian Prime Minister is known for having set “Success often lies not in what you do, but what you stop.” Why then do we not take more resolution of stopping something?
… is less visible and therefore not as spectacular and thrilling as having objectives of doing something new or different. Tracking something that is growing is also more attractive than seeing something diminishing to zero. The psychological barrier might also be higher. Stopping something implies a fear of loss right away. Planning to do something new usually creates some unwarranted optimism at least at first. The momentum to tackle a resolution to stop something is thus lower from the start.
Why is this relevant for Sales Management?
Lack of time is one of the main excuses sales managers use for not doing more coaching. Yet there is sufficient evidence available that coaching is the single most effective activity sales managers can undertake to improve performance. Would logic thus not suggest that we first have to free up time before making a resolution to devote more time to coaching? Stopping doing something is probably a faster way to free up time than figuring out how to make other activities more efficient and then execute on those findings. The low attractiveness of stopping something compared to reach higher efficiency is though again a hindrance to do the blindingly obvious.
How to go about it?
Successful execution of a resolution might become a five step process:
- Change your value system with respect to stopping something
- Take the resolution what to stop
- Take the resolution how to use the freed up time
- Execute the resolution taken in point 2
- Execute the resolution taken in point 3
Step 1 follows Einstein’s insight that problems cannot be solved with the same thinking that created them. Taking the resolution of how to use the freed up time right after the resolution what to stop might make the implementation first resolution easier because it is not the end but the means to what we perceive more as a positive outcome from the second resolution.
Point 4 actually means changing a habit. Experts are telling us that this will take about a month. So does point 5.
Execution on a resolution is a change management process. The steps of the human reaction to change (denial, anger, fear, accepting, exploring, fragile competence and demonstrated capability) are well known. The only successful way we can deal with this reaction is trying to not fall too deep into the negative thinking and trying to arrive as fast as possible at the demonstrated new capability. Trying to ignore that these steps occur will however end up in another failed initiative.
Does the above seem too complicated and taking too much time to arrive at the new behavior you want to master? If you start the five steps right at the beginning of the year, you have at least 10 months to reap the benefits of your new behavior. Compare this to a rush directly into executing the resolution of doing something new and thereby risking almost 12 months of frustration for not being successful at implementing the resolution or at least having to conclude after 12 months that you have not made any progress.