Systems Not Goals

Systems not goals for success. This is especially true for employment verification services.

With the new year approaching, so are personal resolutions. But what about professional resolutions? Have you thought to set New Year’s resolutions for your company? Perhaps consider improving employee engagementproductivitytalent development, or employee health.

No doubt these are all worthy goals, but before solidifying any, ponder this – are your professional or personal resolutions usually successful? If you’re like most people, the answer is a resounding NO!

According to a University of Scranton study mentioned in this New York Post article, only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals. Ask any fitness coach, and they would claim that 8% is about right. Obtaining goals, as part of a New Year’s resolution, is incredibly difficult. Why is this and what can we do to improve?

Systems Not Goals

It all begins with habits. Humans are no different than any other animal. Sure, we may not run to a dog bowl when Pavlov rings the bell, but we do jump at the sound of a text alert on our cell phones. Just as we have been conditioned to respond to our phone’s signals, our habits determine our successes in reaching goals. Consistency and repetition of behaviors form our habits. Since New Year’s resolutions are typically short term in nature, repetition doesn’t occur enough for habits to form.

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, writes about the difference between goals and systems in his book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My LifeAdams mentions that using systems improves your odds of success when compared to goals.

Let’s use an average company as an example to explain why this is the case. A department within a company sets a goal to increase its profit by 10% from the previous year. To reach this goal, the manager must decide on a strategy. Some typical strategic options include a combination of increasing sales or prices as well as decreasing expenses.

Often managers focus on reaching goals by temporarily increasing staff hours, spending less, or a combination thereof. The manager may reach their goal, but they have not done anything that will help improve long-term success for the company. Next year, the manager will use the same strategies to reach a new goal.

Astute managers realize that by using systems, rather than goals, they can adapt the department to expand its long term success. With goals, a manager focuses on short-term approaches every year to meet an arbitrary goal. With systems, the manager introduces long-term practices to improve the company’s results, both for this year and future years. New practices may include discussing alternative product offerings or services to clients on an ongoing basis.

Success occurs when thinking about systems long term rather than short term. Successful systems can be thought of as groups of short-term goals linked together and repeatedly completed.

Systems can be tricky to use. Unlike goals, where it is known if the goal is reached or not, systems do not always offer milestones to let you know if you’re on the right track. This can lead to self-doubt about a well-constructed system. Using systems requires patience and confidence that it will work.

This doesn’t mean that the created system is perfect. It means that when inevitable setbacks do occur the first reaction should not be to abandon the system. Instead, the system should be reviewed to make sure it fits current needs. If it doesn’t then the system should be fine-tuned accordingly.

How Can Employment Verification Help Create Successful Systems?

At i2Verify, we work closely with Human Resources (HR) teams by managing the time-consuming and costly employment verification process for all current and former employees.

HR teams that outsource employment verification to i2Verify have more time to focus on other critical tasks, like creating efficient systems and processes to improve the company’s performance. i2Verify works directly with all lenders, background check vendors, and government agencies to make sure that we fulfill all employment verification requests securely and quickly.

Additionally, our leading employment verification platform is free for employers and employees and includes access to a dedicated employee portal for current or former employees of our clients. Through the portal, employees can access all employment verification requests and reports, including verification of employment, verification of income, government assistance requests, and more.

Let i2Verify help you make sure that the new year is a successful one. Contact i2Verify for information on our employment verification platform, which is always free for employers and employees.


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