5 Career-Related New Year’s Resolutions (and 5 Tips for Keeping Them)

 
 
Here are well-researched tips from Harvard Business School faculty to help you keep your career-related resolutions this year.
 
 
by Carmen Nobel
photo of Pho soup Red shoes can help you stand out at the office. Credit:  iStock

Welcome to January, dear readers! We at Harvard Business School Working Knowledge want nothing but the best for you in the new year. And for those of you who have made New Year’s resolutions for a better work life, we wish you nothing but success. To that end, we’re sharing some well-researched tips from Harvard Business School faculty to help you keep your career-related resolutions this year.

1. Resolution: To gain more respect at the office.

Tip: Wear weird sneakers to work.

Research by Silvia Bellezza, Francesca Gino, and Anat Keinan shows that people who wear funky outfits to the office are often seen as more confident and as having higher status than those who dress to fit in.

As writer Dina Gerdeman explains, “The researchers found that observers viewed a nonconforming person to have a heightened status and more competence, particularly when they believed the person was aware of the established norm but deliberately chose to make a fashion statement by wearing a standout style. This person was often viewed as autonomous; confident enough to act independently and create his or her own rules.”

To learn more, read Gerdeman's story The Manager in Red Sneakers.

2. Resolution: Work harder to meet the demands of a job where you’ve been failing to shine.

Tip: Ask yourself whether the problem is actually the job, not you.

Today’s jobs are expanding in terms of what is expected of people, but the resources people get to do those jobs is not expanding,” says Robert Simons, the Charles M. Williams Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. “People feel more pressure to own their roles and they’re stressed because they’re being pulled in a lot of different directions, but they’re not getting the help they need.”

To that end, Simons created a free online job design optimization tool. Try it out to see if your job is offering a healthy mix of responsibility and support. If the answer is no, then talk to your supervisor about creating a more-balanced job. If that’s not feasible, maybe it’s time to look for a new job.

To learn more about evaluating your current position, read Dina Gerdeman’s story, Bad at Your Job? Maybe It’s the Job’s Fault.

3. Resolution: Score a job interview at your dream company.

Tip: Stop posting embarrassing photos online—even on Snapchat.

Are you someone who feels compelled to share every sordid moment of your life online, yet are also aware that most job recruiters check candidates’ social media channels during the hiring process? Then maybe you rely on apps like Snapchat and Instagram Stories, which allow you to share photos that disappear from the web shortly after you post them or share them with friends. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Problem solved, right? Might as well Snapchat that lampshade on your head, right?

Wrong. It turns out that if a potential employer ever saw an embarrassing selfie of you, it may come back to haunt you.

The impression that a temporarily shared selfie makes does not disappear when the [photos] disappear,” says social science researcher Leslie K. John, the Marvin Bower Associate Professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of the paper “Temporary Sharing Prompts Unrestrained Disclosures That Leave Lasting Negative Impressions.”

To learn more, read Rachel Layne’s story Beware the Lasting Impression of a ‘Temporary’ Selfie.

4. Resolution: Ace that job interview at your dream company.

Tip: Ask a lot of questions, especially follow-up questions.

Behavioral science research suggests that people who ask follow-up questions tend to land better jobs than people who don’t. (That goes for landing second dates, too.)

”Compared to those who do not ask many questions, people who do are better liked and learn more information from their conversation partners,” says Alison Wood Brooks, assistant professor and Hellman Faculty Fellow at Harvard Business School, and co-author of the paper “It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask: Question-Asking Increases Liking.”

“It’s an easy-to-deploy strategy anyone can use to not only be perceived as more emotionally intelligent, but to actually be more emotionally intelligent as well,” she says.

To learn more, read Rachel Layne’s story Asking Questions Can Get You a Better Job or a Second Date.

5. Resolution: Increase productivity among your employees.

Tip: Spend less time watching them work.

While open office spaces have become commonplace in many industries, research by Ethan Bernstein shows that decreasing the observation of your employees will likely increase their productivity.

What’s more, the less you watch your employees, the more you’ll know what they’re doing. Bernstein calls this the Transparency Paradox. In short: Broad visibility of employees at work may induce secretive behavior, thus reducing real transparency, whereas boundaries may actually increase it.

To learn more, read Carmen Nobel's story Hiding From Managers Can Increase Productivity.

About the Author

Carmen Nobel is the senior editor of Harvard Business School Working Knowledge.

Post A Comment

In order to be published, comments must be on-topic and civil in tone, with no name calling or personal attacks. Your comment may be edited for clarity and length.