Each year, many of us make New Year’s resolutions. While some goals flourish, others crumble like leftover Christmas cookies. Those personal goals are crucial, and workplace resolutions are just as important.

To evaluate the success of long term workplace projects, many employers establish benchmarks to ensure effective change and sustained progress. Understanding the definition of ‘benchmark’ helps create effective workplace change for the new year. Benchmarks are a set of standards, used to evaluate the quality during a specific amount of time. Here are five steps that can help business leaders benchmark effectively in 2018:

  1. The Big Picture

Figure out what you want to change about your workspace or potential to grow and reach new audiences.

Example: “I want to gain more followers on social media for my new business.”

  1. Self-Evaluation

Think about how you’re currently doing this and evaluate yourself honestly and sincerely. It may help to have a role model so you can see what you’re doing wrong and how you can improve.

Example: Check your analytics and determine how many people are viewing or liking your posts. If you are sending daily emails, or posting on social media five times a day, this won’t provide more followers. Instead, it appears as spam and unwanted notifications.

  1. Research Ideas

Research avenues to reach your goals. If they cannot be found through research, seek mentors, and ask yourself: how do I want to change my work life or business?

Example One: Many sites offer advice on how to be engaging on social media. Read pointers for the new year.

Example Two: Want to get more work done, but can’t find research online? Write down those work distractions (loud office, excessive cell phone use, etc.)

  1. One Section at a Time

Approach it just like you eat the dessert after dinner. One bite at a time. Once you have listed a large goal, break it down so it doesn’t seem overwhelming.

Example: Create smaller goals: engage with other social media users often, create more appealing content, or post once a day during peak hours.

  1. Deadlines are Friendly

It’s time to create those larger benchmarks for the year. These can be set every three months and be self-assessments.

Example: Create a timeline with deadlines: have 200 more followers by March, gain sponsors for community growth by June by doing a giveaway, create business collaborations by September.

While creating benchmarks improves performance, it’s always good to check how development is changing the outcome. If you observe that you’re not getting the outcome you want, determine the cause and change approach. Change can happen slowly or quickly, but persistence is key.

As the founder of TakingPoint Leadership, Brent Gleeson, stated persistence is more important than a plan itself because there will be obstacles that will challenge the goal. Without this, it will become harder to reach the overall goal at the end of the year. Setting a benchmark plan to improve takes critical thinking and tenacity, but the effort is worth the end goal.

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is an award-winning entrepreneur, cross-cultural trainer, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, (3rd printing), was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.