New Year’s Resolution: Improving Your Skills – Part 1

You can become better at almost anything if you follow this simple plan. In Part 1 we explore the first half of the journey from here to there.

As you read this you may be working on a few New Year’s Resolutions.  According to Statistical Brain, people who explicitly make resolutions are ten times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions

So how are you doing?

If you’re one of the 62% of Americans who made one or more New Year’s resolutions, by January 15th at least half your resolutions will have fallen by the wayside.  About a quarter of people who make New Year’s resolutions never succeed in achieving them.  It almost certainly wasn’t that you lacked the interest in making the change.  It’s just that something (or someone) hijacked your resolve – and your plan to get from here to there became too burdensome.  Or maybe you didn’t have an effective plan.  Whatever the reason, something interfered with your resolution to get better.

Lessons from a successful coaching practice.  I’ve been an executive coach for almost three decades with greater than a 97% rehire rate (meaning clients who hire me to work with someone on staff hire me for additional people following the results my coaching produced).  I want to share some of the tactics and strategies that continue to work across different industries, different cultures, and different kinds of need areas.

One: Start by assessing where you are now.   Here are five tools and approaches I use most often to gain an accurate current picture of where a coaching client is in their career.  

a. Candidate selfassessment. The candidate has an idea of his or her specific needs – what he or she wants to accomplish by engaging a coach.  I typically use both a self-assessment and behavioral interview questions.  I want to learn about both his or her objectives, plus his or her capacity and motivation to grow.

b. Behavioral / motivational / EQ assessment. This tool saves hours of time at the start, and enables me to fill in a lot of details to understand why someone behaves the way he or she does.  We spend time together exploring the assessment results and then validate the behavioral profile during the time we work together.

c. Competence / knowledge assessment. This tool allows me to measure what someone knows and understands about the best practices in a particular area, such as management/leadership disciplines, sales, or communication skills. The results allow me to measure the gap between where they are now in contrast to a set of relevant best practices.

d. Supervisor / peer interviews. In addition to an individual’s observations about themselves, the people with whom they work most closely can shed some light on both the individual’s working environment and the personal and workplace behaviors they observe.

e. Observation. After forty years of helping people develop to their potential I’ve been able to know what to look for that can provide the clues to helping someone improve. 

Two: Next, determine what is most important to improve, add, or fix first.  Each of us has a different set of priorities dictated by our current work objectives and circumstances, our supervisors, the important people in our life, and our life situation.  I work with each client to prioritize the need areas in order to determine the top three to five areas that if improved, would lead to the greatest growth and success.  These areas don’t remain static, so we periodically re-assess and re-prioritize.  We use a proprietary tool to do this, and my clients can use it to re-prioritize anytime they want.

Three: Next, identify the best practices in a specific area and compare to your current knowledge. Then measure the gap.  There are a number of reliable sources that can be used to set forth the best practices in any given area, from best-practices authors, trainers, practitioners, and experts.  Consult those whose results are proven in actual field use.  Avoid the trendy stuff and the “three-step cures for whatever ails you” solutions.  Look for resources which have a strong record of success in your business area.  Choose the practical over the theoretical.  Over the years I collected a best-practices inventory and kept it current as best practices evolve. This has helped my organization create nearly 200 training programs that are in use on four continents.  {Shameless self-promotion: please visit our course catalog and see all of the topics we address – especially leadership, management, and sales!} 

We’re halfway across the chasm…three more key steps to take.  Which we’ll explore in detail in Part 2 of New Year’s Resolution: Improving Your Skills.  Until next time, remember it is your choice to be green and growing!

I work with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. My company’s extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new / developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive. My company’s coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time. I also help job seekers, higher ed, and employers connect people to better jobs faster. My two books on job search ( help people navigate the ever-changing landscape of conducting a successful job search. To find out more, please visit us at, email us at, or call us at 215-942-0982.


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