Linking back to a previous blog post on scary goals and being brave one area that frequently comes up in my career coaching work is when an individual is trying to decide whether to leave paid employment and enter into the world of self employment.
I remember when I made this move leaving a very well paid corporate job in 2000 I walked out of the office door for the very first time “unemployed “ thinking what I have just done is either very brave or very stupid. There wasn’t a plan on what I was actually going to do I just knew that the job I had been in was making me miserable and had been doing this for about eighteen months. I had got to the point where I dreaded going back to work after a holiday and I had always vowed if that happened to make some changes.
Within the first couple of weeks had I heard a few of bits advice from mentors who had a similar path and were a few years down the line at that point. The advice I gained in these early weeks I still pass onto others as I believe them to be very true in my experience
It takes 3-4 years to get used to being self employed and if you last this long without returning to a regular salaried job them you are likely to be successful and also become fairly unemployable as you get used to the freedom of being your own boss and the feast and famine nature of this path.
It’s all about who you know and who you surround yourself by. There will be many doubts in these early years and pragmatic encouragement from authentic inspirational people who want to help you succeed is a critical success factor.
I certainly underestimated the length of time it takes to
Refine what you want to specialise in
To work out the correct pricing model
To set up the operational infrastructure working out what you want to do yourself and what you want to pay others to do for you
Work out the elevator pitch when people ask the classic “ what do you do?”
Polish off an authentic sales and engagement process
Develop a support network to encourage you when the going gets tough but also challenge you when something needs to be discontinued and you don’t see it yourself.
What you get in return however after persisting through these initial years is immense personal growth along with a sense of achievement and freedom along with the by product of meeting some great new people on route.
Sandra works as a coach with both businesses and private clients. She is also author of the book Own It – regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon click here http://bit.ly/1JhAkst
Anyone who likes inspirational quotes will be familiar with the one that encourages us to always push the boundaries and move outside our comfort zone. Why is this a concept important for us to consider in terms of developing a mindset of high performance in either ourselves.
High performing teams or individuals are always adapting to change, evolving and looking to deliver more. Growth comes from exposing ourselves to different situations, learning new skills or behaviours and the personal satisfaction of achieving new things. This is where the concept of pushing the boundaries and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable links in.
The easy and safe option is to carry on in the comfortable world we are already in however anyone who is interested in high performance knows that staying in this zone isn’t good for our personal growth.
When people set themselves goals an easy trap to fall into is to set targets that they know are well within their capability. The good thing about this is that it won’t take a lot of effort to tick the box and achieve these goals, the downside of this approach is there maybe a niggling doubt when you get there that it wasn’t that difficult so the sense of personal satisfaction isn’t that high.
Taking the being braver, high performance route would mean that when setting yourself or your team goals then more risk should be taken. The goals should be a lot more stretching or “ scary” as I suggest in my book Own It http://bit.ly/1JhAkst . In the goal setting Chapter I suggest that we all need a scary goal, one that makes us feel uncomfortable, one that is definitely outside of our comfort zone, in that by just thinking about it there is a slight feeling inside that means we are not 100% sure this is something we want to push ourselves to do. This is where the personal growth and reward comes when we set ourselves such a goal and then actually achieve it, a brilliant feeling.
So do you have a scary goal at the moment? If you haven’t got one start thinking what could it be then define clearly, tell the world and go for it.
So how are you doing with all those good intentions, resolutions, goals or new habits that you decided to commit to at the beginning of the year?
If I look at myself then I would say I am doing better with some than others, there are certain actions that are proving more difficult to embed as habits than others. When I work with both business and private clients keeping the momentum going over a long period of time and working out how to embed certain behaviours or habits that the individual wants to work on is by far the hardest part of the change process.
So let’s take a work example to illustrate a couple of things that can help embed new ways of improving or creating new actions moving forwards:
A leader I have been working with for several months was struggling to commit her time to holding regular Team Meetings and hold monthly 1-1,s with her direct reports. She had had various attempts at putting the meetings in the diary and had also managed to keep the momentum going with a few meetings but it never lasted more than a couple of months. She began to think it didn’t matter as she sat quite close to the people they all chatted every day and they were having the occasional meeting. Deep down however she knew that the regular pattern she had originally set out to achieve hadn’t been embedded to become routine practice plus the fact that these two activities in my view (as her coach) were key to maintaining individuals motivation, aiding consistent communication and managing performance issues. It took a couple of events to refocus the leaders attention back to the important “why” did she want to work on improving this area in the first place. The two events were a high performing member of the team handed in her notice as she felt she wasn’t been challenged or developed enough in the role plus in the end of year appraisal feedback the Team commented that they often didn’t know what was going on in other areas of the business. When we discussed both of theses events at a coaching discussion it was clear that if the regular 1-1’s had been happening with everyone and team meetings were a given part of daily operations then these two events might not have occurred.
So this illustration shows there has to be a solid reason behind why you want to embed new behaviours or change the way you do things.
Ask yourself the question for anything you intended to do at the beginning of 2018 what was your “why” was it strong enough? Is it still there?
Also who are you accountable ? It really helps if you share what you would like to work on with someone else and ask them to be your accountability buddy until the new habit or action becomes embedded in your routine.
For some companies the end of the calendar year also coincided with the annual appraisal process in which, if done well, each person comes out the other end of the process having had a really good discussion with their line manager on areas in which they are doing well, some areas where improvements need to be made and with a new set of very focussed goals that are both meaningful and motivational for the individual and to support business strategy.
Conducting a meaningful appraisal is just one of the skills any leader needs to learn. A leader should also have as part of their appraisal a discussion about how they are performing in the leadership role and ask the question of themselves throughout the year “how well do I lead my team?”
In some of the companies I work with we go out and collect feedback for leaders prior to the annual appraisal process and ask both direct reports, peers, customers, senior managers and other key stakeholders. This feedback is summarised and then discussed with the individual leader to ratify things that are working well and areas of development.
If you can get this type of feedback either via a systematic online generated questionnaire and report (360 degree feedback) or a more informal process it is hugely valuable. I have seen leaders transform their leadership ability based on such feedback as they didn’t realise how important their behaviour was on a day to day basis and what their team expected of them.
The type of actions that can result from a critical review of your leadership style on a regular basis can range from instigating or reinvigorating regular team meetings, scheduling meaningful 1-1’s on a monthly basis with each member of your team to redefining entire team structure and clarifying roles and responsibilities.
The important thing to realise that it doesn’t matter if you are a leader with years and years of experience or if this is your first leadership role there are always areas where improvements can be made and also its nice to know what you are doing well!