A few weeks ago, in a regular client meeting one of the directors made a comment that has stuck in my mind since…. she said, “it’s good to mix things up a bit every so often”. We were talking about business changes that were happening, changes in personnel and a potential merger that looked likely to happen in 2020. Her reaction to all the changes that were happening impressed me because it wasn’t one of fear despite the uncertainty that was ahead regarding her own role. Some other people could have had an opposite response to the same set of circumstances. They could have been fearful and negative about all the changes and if they were vocal about their personal reaction then this could have rubbed off on other people involved who were perhaps themselves feeling uncertain about what the impact would be on them.
I think we can all get comfortable, myself included especially when things are working relatively well, and life is ticking along. When this happens to me personally I do enjoy the stability for a while and there is the reassurance that you can work or live with relatively little pressure when you know what to expect and you are doing things well within your ability levels and capacity. Don’t get me wrong having periods in our life when we operate in this way are great and in fact needed as we don’t want to always be living in a pressurised, unpredictability way as this can be very stressful.
The tricky thing I think is recognising when the time is right to “mix things up” or start doing something different or consider changing something that is working ok. They word OK is I think the key and is what I have been thinking about since hearing that phrase made by one of our clients a few weeks ago. A lot of the changes we have made to our business in the last year haven’t been triggered by things breaking or circumstances demanding we change. The changes we have made have been to things that were working OK, things that could have gone on in that way for many months or years and could have been still satisfactory. We decided to make the changes we did for a couple of reasons firstly we weren’t enjoying some projects anymore; the comfortable feeling was starting to tip into a feeling of dissatisfaction as we knew OK could have been great. The second reason was that we weren’t growing personally or professionally and when you are in the business of encouraging personal development role modelling the right behaviors is important.
In finishing this, first post of 2020 at the turn of the year and decade, one question I will leave you with is this “Is there anything that would be good to mix up a bit in your life in 2020?” Go for it, take things from OK to great.
So it has been a while since the last blog post and for a few reasons.
As many people do at the turn of the year I use it as a chance to take stock and review how the last year went and what the plans for the new year are. This year I decided to extend this period of reflection a bit longer so that I could take advantage of a planned trip to Northern Goa in India that I had had scheduled for a while. For me to take two whole weeks out of my schedule is unusual as I normally have a lot of shorter breaks throughout the year.
There was a specific reason for this trip and if you are interested in learning more take a listen to the podcast episode at Itunes link to podcast
So against my default programming I didn’t set any new year resolutions with the intention of using the space and downtime while away to decide what the focus of 2019 was going to be both professionally and personally. I think the trip to India was quite a landmark event as it had been a personal goal for nearly 5 years and the fact that it was actually going to happen was meaningful in itself. My normal reaction is “so what next” and I know I made the mistake once before in 2006 after completing the Ironman in that I immediately entered another one which in the end I had to pull out of due to injury – the real truth is it wasn’t meant to be I was just meant to do one event like that and originally that had been my intention I just got carried away with post race euphoria and the rest of my team mates rushing to fill in entry forms for the next event.
The two weeks away were soon over and still no obvious new goals were emerging just a few subtle tweaks to what I am already doing and the slow realisation that maybe that was all I needed to do just a bit of refining and refocusing. I fundamentally have the right things in place so there isn’t a need for major changes. There isn’t a obvious new big scary goal or shift I want to make at this time and that is ok what I have is a few areas of focus professionally and personally for the rest of the year , things that I am already doing but just take them to the next level starting with a slight tweak to the podcast in renaming it The Career Tree to expand the exploration of industries/jobs/ways of working to show what choices we all do have in the world of work. So watch this space as we refine what we do as we approach our twentieth year in business as Kudos. Now that is scary where has all that time has gone?
This follows on from an early post entitled ” Your First 90 days “.
A short cut to success in your leadership role is having complete clarity on who your key stakeholders are, ensuring you know what they expect from you and building solid effective two way relationships with them all.
So, where do you start?
Firstly, set out with the intention of building a thorough understanding of all your team members, regardless of their experience level, seniority, area of responsibility, personality and attitude. Approach this project with an attitude of curiosity to build a complete pen picture for each member of your team. Do it in a way that makes sense to you however insure you consider what makes them tick, what their aims and ambitions are short and long term even if its just to keep doing what they already are that is fine at least you know. What challenges do they face, what do they love doing, are their any people they are struggling with. Capture all the this information per person and design a process whereby you are continually building and refreshing this knowledge of each team member so that over the next few months you know them inside out! Use your regular 1-1’s, times when you are working alongside individuals on specific pieces of work and social interactions to gleam further insights. Cultivating this attitude of interest and curiosity will enable you to adjust your leadership style accordingly and look out for opportunities where you can put the right work their way and design appropriate development interventions to help each person grow under your leadership tenure.
In parallel to building an in depth understanding of your team you need to take a similar approach with all your customers internal and external. Try and put yourself in their shoes and anticipate what they need from you and your team for them each to be successful. Armed with your thoughts check this out with each person at the earliest opportunity to ensure you haven’t missed anything and to identify the priority expectations and requirements of your role from their perspective as customers. Often we are busy doing work that we think is critically important which our customers don’t value in the same way.
For both your team and internal/external customers ask yourself “how healthy and enjoyable is the working relationship between the two of you?” Score each relationship between 1 and 10, 1 being very broken and hard work to 10 being extremely productive and enjoyable in fact it doesn’t really seem like work! Identify the most important stakeholders that have the lowest quality rating 1-10 and then think about what you need to do to make improvements.
Take a similar approach with your peer group and your manager so you can establish what each needs from you and how effective the working relationship currently is.
Its worth repeating this type of exercise annually as people change roles a lot and also business expectations change as strategy changes.
Sandra works as an executive coach for businesses and also has a private coaching practice for career/life and business coaching. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com. She is also author of Own It – regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon Check book out here and a recently launched series of Own It Podcasts which gives inspiration and tips for professional and personal life Own It Podcasts
I have just finished watching a programme on TV where a group of celebrities undertook an experiment where they tried to reduce their physical and mental ages over a period of three weeks 100 years younger in 21 days
It was fascinating to see how the aging process was affecting them all very differently due to either current habits or prior lifestyle bad habits having taken their toll. Throughout the three-week period some individuals needed to focus on their mental capacity while others had more health and physical challenges.
The physical challenges where they were encouraged to exercise more and eat better weren’t surprising as most of us know what we should and shouldn’t eat and that we need to keep moving. What I learnt most were the changes that occurred that radically improved some of the participants mental health scores in such a short period of time.
There were dramatic improvements in mental ageing in fact reversing the effect resulting in three key activities the celebrities were made aware of
- Learning new skills
- The sense of belonging that came from being part of a group
If we take each I turn there were just a few take home messages that I think are useful to us all.
Meditation doesn’t appeal to everyone and certainly in the programme the person that benefited the most initially demonstrated a lot of resistance to even the idea let alone the practice of it. It took another person in the group who had personally benefited themselves from the practice to buddy up with the individual and persist gently through the initial reservations and difficulties to the point where it started to become an enjoyable habit with huge quick positive effects that reinforced the new habit further. The correlation between the habit of regular meditation and improved sleep quality was amazing and without question a good reason to continue.
When it came to learning new skills, the key point was it doesn’t have to be a particular type of skill. Initially the group were introduced to learning a new language however if anyone struggled with this challenge then other more practical rather than cerebral activities were suggested to get a similar result. The key message here aww keep the brain active by exposing it to new challenges.
The final factor was the sense of belonging and the obvious communication involved from being part of a group or team was evident. The mutual support they gave each other at various stages of the process especially when an individual was finding part of the regime tough was an equally important bi product of the process.
- So, are you continually learning?
- Do you actively engage in a community/group that provides support and encouragement?
- Have you explored a meditation practice? maybe just try for 5 mins a day for a couple of weeks see if you find it beneficial
Sandra works as a coach for both businesses and private clients. She is also author of the book Own It – regain control and live life on your terms. More info can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com
Whether it’s a goal you have set yourself, a challenge the team has in front of them, a problem you need to solve, or you are trying to help someone else move forwards the ability to move forwards towards the desired state is something that is required. The less time we spend paralysed or procrastinating the better when it comes to continually achieving high performance both professionally and personally.
Another habit we can develop is to identify how far we are away from our desired result and use a timeline technique to ascertain how big the gap is. Let’s imagine your ideal outcome or the place where you would feel happy with a situation is 10/10. Ask the question where are you now? on the scale from 1-10 with 10 being the perfect result or outcome you are working towards e.g. if you scored yourself 5 then you are halfway along to being in the place you want to be or accomplishing the goal you have set yourself.
Then ask yourself the question – what have I done to get myself this far e.g. off level 0. What do I need to do more of to move myself up the scale? Normally we have made some progress, rarely are you starting for level zero.
The next baby step to take is to imagine where the next level up would be i.e. if you are currently rating yourself as a 5 on the scale what action would you need to take to get yourself to a 6. By taking this approach we are trying to break down a big challenge or goal into baby steps of action or bite sized chunks (chunking is a commonly used NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming methodology)
When you have identified what you need to do to take you to the next level upwards and more towards your destination then ask yourself whether you need anyone’s expertise or assistance to get there? Whether it’s simply being disciplined to set aside time to work on the action, whether there is any element of fear of failure or loosing face standing in your way. What is stopping you take that next action step and what do you need to remove that barrier.
This process then needs to be circled around again to achieve the next level up on the scale. Simply having this diagrammatically drawn in your daily notebook could help remind you of what action you need to take to take small baby step action steps to reach your ultimate destination.
What action could you take today or within a week to move you up one or two levels?
Sandra works as a professional coach for both businesses and private clients. For more information look at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com or read through her book Own It available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl