January has now kicked in full gear and it is now time to deliver on those New Year resolutions. Judging by the LinkedIn feed an inordinate number of people have gotten a head start by announcing that they have left their former company and is now actively searching. Now taking out the involuntary part of these this is quite brave approach, but is it also wise?
Well, if we start by thinking through what any New Year resolution or change for that matter requires, then the EAST (Easy – Attractive – Social – Timely) model is a great guide:
Make it Easy!
When you need to change, you cannot rely on the automatic and intuitive side of your brain, which is great at maintaining the past – you need to engage your more hard working and analytical side.
But all that hard work has made your analytical side lazy and if it becomes too much, you tend to give up, so you need to make it easy. You want to eliminate the barriers to success as much as possible. This can mean designing systems to automate existing business processes or removing unhealthy food from your immediate vicinity.
Now when you are looking for a job, it is a numbers game. You need to get in contact with say 100 people to get 10 interviews to get 1 job offer on average. How can you reduce that work? Well, if you can engage your network in bringing up relevant and active contacts or even interviews, then you can leapfrog the process – and they are much more likely to support you, if it is clear that you are serious and any help is valuable.
So when people are making the announcement that they have left – and particularly if it comes with a good story to share, this is a great way to go.
Attractiveness is key!
Given the difficulty of change, then the likelihood of success of course depends a lot on how attractive the goal is. You want to make it attractive to do the right thing, but you also want to make it unattractive to do the wrong thing.
But the attractiveness of a goal depends very much on how far into the future it is, because we tend to discount future benefits (and costs) steeply, so you want to maximize the attractiveness or substitute for some immediate benefits. This can mean creating fun competitions with simple rewards on the way to large annual sales growth or reward your sports commitment with a trip to the cinema.
Now, one of the challenges of getting a new senior job is that it takes at least six months and thus the benefits of your activity is far into the future. That is a long time to keep up the efforts, when it is not really necessary. Once you have resigned that job though, a new job is super attractive, because although money cannot buy happiness, they sure are nice to have.
Engage the Social animal!
We do not mean just being socially active (although that obviously helps, when you are looking for a job), but rather using to your advantage that we look to others for cues on how to act and assess our performance.
When we are in doubt about the proper approach to a certain situation, we look to role-models, which tells you a bit about whom, you want to engage early in a change program. Once we commit publicly to a certain direction, it is very difficult for us to change – because that signals inconsistency, which is not rewarded in any society. This means that if you can get key stakeholders to commit to a small change in the right direction, it is so much easier to get them onto the big change later.
So it is much easier and more personally acceptable to our self image to fail at something, when no one is looking – if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around, did it make a sound? Thus when trying to attain a goal – like getting a new job – make a public commitment to do so. And announcing your resignation and goal on LinkedIn to millions of people does not get much more public than that.
Being Timely never goes out of fashion!
How you commit to what and why are critical as we can see above. But in launching new ventures and generating change at just the right moment has proven to be as critical.
For ventures it is clear albeit very difficult to hit what the right moment is to launch, but what about people? It turns out, that people are most receptive to change, when they are already in the middle of change like joining a company, moving into leadership, going abroad or something negative as dealing with significant failure. But timeliness can also mean injecting the change at a trigger point, where is makes a lot of sense – reminders and helping stakeholders preplan for obstacles are good examples of that.
A lot of people are announcing this at New Years and this is actually pretty smart. Not only are they at a cross road – last to this year – but so is everybody else. We love it, when there is some sort symbolic and logical connection between it all (new year, new job), but it is also easier to enlist the help of people, who just got a new and seemingly endless set of 365 days to spend as they see fit…
To sum it all up, when you are looking to deliver on your New Years resolution whether for your private life or large scale business change, make sure to make it Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely.