For Peter Drucker, New Year’s resolutions came in August. Or least that’s when he liked to take a look back at the 12 months just gone by.
“I’ve learned to sit down with myself for two weeks in August and review my work over the past year,” Drucker revealed in Managing the Nonprofit Organization. “Where should I concentrate next year so as not only to give my best but also to get the most out of it?”
Over this past year, we here at the Drucker Exchange have presented a lot of Drucker’s notable insights on management, economics and politics, among other things. To usher in the coming year, we’d like to review three lesser-trumpeted but highly valuable Drucker tips that readers might consider incorporating into their own resolution lists.
1. If you’re doing something really well, but it’s not really a fit with your values, ditch it.
“What one does well—even very well—and successfully may not fit with one’s value system,” Drucker wrote, in a passage flagged in Joe’s Journal earlier this year. “I was doing extremely well as a young investment banker in London in the mid-1930s; it clearly fitted my strengths. Yet I did not see myself making a contribution as an asset manager. . . . Despite the continuing Depression, I quit—and it was the right thing to do. Values, in other words, are and should be the ultimate test.”
2. Never forget that people, including your employees and bosses, often do not get what you’re saying. But talking to people in terms of their experience can help.
“Just as the human ear does not hear sounds above a certain pitch, so does human perception altogether not perceive what is beyond its range of perception,” Drucker noted in Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices. (Misunderstandings were something we asked about early this summer—hoping we’d be understood .) “One can only communicate in the recipient’s language or altogether in his terms. And the terms have to be experience-based. It, therefore, does very little good to try to explain terms to people if the terms are not of their own experience.”
3. If an inside voice says “whoa there” after you’ve made some decision, then hang on—for a moment, at least.
Drucker said that wise executives know to heed the “inner voice, somewhere in the bowels, that whispers” a warning sound. “Nine times out of 10 the uneasiness turns out to be over some silly detail,” Drucker wrote in The Effective Executive. “But the 10th time one suddenly realizes that one has overlooked the most important fact in the problem, has made an elementary blunder, or has misjudged altogether.” Still, this was no excuse for inaction: “The effective decision-maker does not wait long—a few days, at the most a few weeks.”
What work-related resolutions do you plan for the coming year? (Please join the conversation here, and also take our rapid-fire Urtak survey below.)