Perhaps, among all their vows to ring their mother at least once a month, people could give a thought to workplace resolutions, too. We spend a good third of our lives there, after all, so it would not be a bad idea to resolve to improve our surroundings.
Then again, we all know that there are great disparities between the resolutions that people make and the resolutions that everybody else thinks they should make. I bet Jeffrey Archer is, right now, writing out a list including things such as: "I will continue to be a good husband," and, "I won't let my fans down by stopping writing," and, "I will continue to take the advice of my stockbroker." William Hague is saying, "I promise to find a role for Jeffrey this year," and Gary Glitter is saying, "I promise to stage another comeback."
So here is a list of the resolutions your colleagues should make this Millennium, and the ones they more than likely will be making. And, of course, free as I am from self-delusion, a list of my own.
Resolutions they should make (and how they will pan out):
n I will accept responsibility with grace when things go wrong (and get sacked by a kangaroo court when something gets lost in the post).
n I will give up smoking at work (and scatter stress and ill-will all about me).
n We will institute an upward appraisal system so we can get better feedback from below. (We will consult those immediate juniors we are considering for promotion and their responses will have direct repercussions on their prospects.)
n I will make up my staff's pay to the levels they would have been before we did the five-year "recession" freeze. (I will sack half the current workforce in order to be able to afford it.)
n We will respect our employees' family responsibilities. (Memo to personnel: please weed out married job applicants before the interview stage.)
Resolutions they will make (and what they really mean):
n I will be more assertive. (When I'm not getting my own way, I will shout so loudly and for so long that everyone gives in.)
n I won't let anyone get one over on me. (I will spend so much time trying to get one over on other people that I forget the job in hand.)
n I will delegate more. (I will pass the buck whenever possible.)
n I won't take pleasure in other people's disasters. (Well, I won't be throwing any more parties, anyway.)
n I will institute a smoking ban in the building. (I don't see why anyone else should have a pleasure I don't take part in.)
n I will have a social life away from the office. (I will find people who don't know the truth and bore them stupid with assurances of my seniority, the hours I work and my success.)
n I will tell my wife I love her every day. (And my mistress in Marketing.)
My resolutions for the new millennium:
n I will not roll my eyes when someone pops their head round the door and asks me to make them a cup of coffee when I've been on hold for the past 20 minutes waiting to sort out their mobile phone billing problems for them.
n If someone calls me "Um" (or, as another temp wrote to me the other day, "Thingamy", as they call her where she is working), I shall wait until their third attempt and then, looking surprised, say: "Oh. Were you referring to me?"
n I will spend no more than 20 minutes on-line each day.
n I will, I will, I will learn to relish the Tantric value of a tidy filing system. When my predecessor leaves a pile of unfiled papers, I will put them in ring binders with neither curses nor tears.
n The answer to, "Are you free?" is not, "No, I'm pounds 9.50 an hour."
n I will never again succumb to the urge to tuck a gorgonzola and onion sandwich behind the radiator as a leaving present, however trying the employer. No, really. Not even if they are called Louise.