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!
Sandra works with numerous businesses across the UK and runs workshops on Leading and Developing High Performing Teams. Find our more information from either http://www.thekudosgroup.com or http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com
As we are still at the start of the year it’s a good time to take some time out to review career health alongside any lifestyle or well being audit you may have already done.
In my work as a career and performance coach my discussions with clients often centre around how they can either
- Change careers
- Get more enjoyment out of their work
- Get better at their work
- Minimise the amount of stress they are experiencing at work
- Hand some difficult characters at work
- Raise their profile at work
- Progress to the next level in their company, industry etc
- Be brave and make some drastic changes e.g. like number 1 above or setting up their own business
The people who I love to meet are those people who really love what they do in both life and work. As most people spend a large percentage of the week at work its important that if there is something not quite working right in this aspect of our life that you first identify it and then put in place some actions to make improvements
So, in this first month of the year ask yourself the following questions?
- Looking back at 2017 how happy am I with my work out of 10 (1- not happy at all, hate it to 10 – happy and enjoy it a lot)
- Which bits of your working life do you love? Make sure you keep doing this.
- Which bits are you unhappy with – what action can you take?
- Do you feel you are using your full potential at work? If not, which skills are you not using? How can you plan to utilise these more?
- Did you undertake any training or development work for yourself in 2017? Have you got anything else planned for this year? Often leaders spend so much time developing their team they forget about themselves.
- Do you have clear goals or areas of focus for 2018? If not identify at least one
- How is your work/life balance and stress levels – any work needed here in 2018 – what small habits can you change.
Take an hour out this month and conduct a mini career health check on yourself, pick a couple of actions and then repeat the process half way through the year.
Sandra works as a coach for Businesses and Private Clients. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com. She is also author of the self development book Own It available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl
Anyone who knows me or has read my book Own It will know that I always like to be working on a new challenge however sometimes I do wonder why I do this as it is not always easy.
I love the initial phase when a new idea bubbles up or just comes completely out of the blue in what I call a moment of clarity! It’s happened to me many a time e.g. Deciding to qualify as an accountant in the 1980’s, setting up the business in 2000, doing my first triathlon and then an Ironman! Well the challenge that came up from nowhere this April while on holiday in Lanzarote was I want to learn Spanish and be above average.
So, the familiar pattern starts, and I secured a Spanish teacher before the return flight landed at Bristol airport and I was telling everyone this was my new “non-work” project. I discovered a brilliant app Duolingo thanks to a client who recommended it and initially everything was great.
Now nearly eight months later reality has hit learning Spanish is hard and requires a lot of time and effort. I keep meeting an amazing amount of people who I didn’t realise can speak Spanish well some who did A levels or degrees in it. I have also met a lot more people who have embarked on a similar project, maybe with a different language, who have given up when they got to the stage I am currently at. It’s not as easy as I thought it was going to be. I am myself at that decision point, how much do I want this? Is my reason for doing this strong enough?
Well at the time of writing yes, I am still fully committed to learning this language even though it’s not going to be as easy as I originally thought. I am going to have to put more effort and time into this if I want to achieve my goal however you will notice I didn’t put a timeline on this challenge and this was for a reason I wanted it to be a fun, non-work-related pastime. I certainly know an awful lot more Spanish than I did in April of this year and I need to remember this. My understanding and recognition of words is much better however there is still a lot more work to be done in pronunciation and understanding what is been said by the natives rather than a slower paced Spanish lesson.
So, it’s a challenge you bet it is and it’s tougher than I thought but that is ok it just might take a bit longer than I originally thought and I have now got great respect for those people who can fluently speak a second language.
Sandra works as a coach or Businesses and Private Clients. She is also author of the book Own It regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl
Linked to my last blog post I will ask you a question. Did you know there is a strong link between clutter and energy levels?
One of the activities I have recently become absorbed with is Minimalism. To be honest this time last year I wasn’t aware of the concept or the growing movement that is building, largely in the US now, around the concept of living a minimal life. I love it when people recommend good books or documentaries, and this is how I discovered this growing approach to life through a recommendation from a friend regarding The Minimalists. A google search later and I discovered the website, the documentary on Netflix and the two guys behind promoting this approach to life using their own experiences to illustrate the benefits.
I have never been a massive collector of stuff but when I began to read around the subject it shed a whole new light on the benefits of decluttering our lives and only surrounding ourselves with things we love or add value to our life. It takes having a bit of a clear out to a whole new level.
In 2016 I had begun to dabble in this concept via noticing another book advertised in a magazine at the hairdressers called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. Again, as I read this book the concepts made sense and I now see are aligned to the Minimalist approach in it suggests that category by category we sort through our belongings only keeping things that “spark joy”. As a result of this earlier read my wardrobes and cupboards are now organised in the suggested “Marie Kondo” way which makes life so much easier to see what you have, choose what you wear and prevent you buying more of the same type of items. When I first did this, I was astonished how many pairs of blue jeans I have, probably not many by other people’s standards but when they are all staked on top of each other on a shelf it would confirm that I would need to think carefully before buying another pair as I really don’t need any more unless I get rid of or wear out the ones I have already. If I am honest I probably default to wearing only a couple of favorite pairs anyway. When I had sorted my stuff, and stored it in categories if looked so good and this is where the energy impact kicks in. Every time I look in my nicely, colour and category organised clothes collection it makes me feel good, it makes choosing what to wear a lot quicker and generally generates the feeling of me being in control of my stuff rather than the other way around.
Minimalism takes things to another level asking us to question everything we own as to do we love it? and does it add value to your life.? With my jeans example my next project is to sort through the pile and donate or bin any pair that doesn’t pass those two tests! As I type this from our business office a lot of work needs to be done here as we have over 18years worth of stuff maybe that is a 2018 project in the making.
Sandra is a professional coach who works with both Business and Private Clients. More information can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com or www.thekudosgroup.com
Over the past few weeks in my private client coaching practice I have been inspired by the number of new clients who are wanting to make significant changes to their lives and how wide ranging the ages of these clients are. Looking back over just the last month I have met with clients ranging in age from 21 to 62 and they all have had similar goals. They are unhappy with where they are currently and want to take ownership,seeking help to either make the necessary changes that they have already identified they need to make; or in some cases they want to explore a number of options and decide which suits them best.
One of the roles a coach plays in this situation is supporting each person who wants to make changes as they embark on the journey and to reassure them that some of the options that are being considered are possible at their age. In my experience having watched people for many years make massive changes to both their personal and professional lives age is rarely an issue once the individual is committed to the process and is prepared to put in the hard work involved to achieve this. Occasionally when working with the younger age group my role as a coach is to work out together with the client some of the stepping stones that need to be put in place to achieve the desired goals or work out a realistic timescale that breaks big goals into bite sized chunks gathering relevant experience along the way.
The most important factor by far regardless of age and also desired goals is the enthusiasm, total commitment and dedication to get unstuck from the current position and do whatever it takes to move towards the future state. The speed people can achieve this is amazing once they have this total mind set to making things happen and surrounding themselves by people who also want to help them move forwards.
So if you are feeling stuck, you can get unstuck – where there is a will there is a way.
The forth step of the G.A.M.E model is challenging me personally at the moment and I know when people have given me feedback after having read the book this is the step that we all find difficult at some time in our lives.
When I did triathlon for eleven years I had two injuries that stopped my training and race schedule abruptly one to the back that made running painful and another to the shoulder that prevented swimming. Both injuries were frustrating and learning opportunities at the same time. At the time of typing I have my first serious injury (damage to a bone in my wrist) from Ashtanga Yoga… yes you can get injured doing yoga! When this happens the day to day momentum that existed in quite a routine way is stopped abruptly. Initially I hoped that it was a little niggle that would go away in time with a few slight adjustments to my daily practice however as the pain persisted it became evident I needed some expert advice and investigations. All the time while the pain in the body persists different mental patterns and physical coping mechanisms arise to keep momentum going and motivation intact. My daily morning practice is important to me as my “set up” space for each day and whereas before injury this was enjoyable this was starting to get less so and then questions go through the mind as should you be even attempting this. What is right and what is wrong for us all individually is entirely unique and one we have to take ownership for.
Then there are the inputs from people who surround us both inside and outside of the medical profession that sometimes helps and other times confuse. Again only one person can decide who best to take advice from and when also to stop taking advice and decide on a path, follow that path to the letter and stop googling symptoms as well, that is ourselves. I thought I had learnt from previous injuries on a correct process to follow but I did find myself repeating some of the old behaviours that I thought had long gone eg googling and self diagnosing. The other skill that is needed in this situation, again I am far from perfect on this, is accepting the situation you are in regardless of the daily frustration it causes physically and mentally. On a good day I am ok with this and look to see what I can do rather than what I cant do. On a bad day I can feel sorry for myself and find unhelpful thinking patterns occurring. It is at this time I need to firstly observe myself going down this path and find something to focus on that stops this downward spiral, this could either be connecting with one of my “rays of sunshine” or focusing on another one of my goals or aspects of my life that doesn’t demand my injured wrist eg learning Spanish or working with a new coaching client or reading a new book. I think my main learning this time round as I struggle with this step is focus on what I can do rather than what I cant along with how can I use this enforced adjustment period to focus on things that maybe I didn’t make time for before inside and outside of my Yoga practice. Making use of the “what makes you feel good” lists I encourage people to create at the end of chapter 6 in http://www.own-it-book.com is also helpful when this step becomes a challenge.
The full book can be found at http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl
If you are serious about your own personal development and continual growth an area of work that is never complete is building self-awareness. The majority of inspiring people that I have met in my life have had incredible self -awareness and saw this as an ongoing project and an area of their life that they were always willing to do more work on.
When I initially meet prospective coaching clients one of my first jobs is to ascertain how much work they have already done in this area. Some people have been lucky enough to have worked for organisations that have invested in people development and therefore these clients have attended training courses, developmental activities,360 degree feedback and even sometimes had psychometric assessments. Each one of these experiences has enabled the person to understand more about themselves, the good bits and the bad bits.
I was certainly privileged to have had such opportunities during my corporate career and learnt a lot however the learning hasn’t stopped since leaving and it is this ongoing commitment to personal development and self-awareness that is critical in achieving high performance either as an individual ,a leader of a team, in employment or self employed.
My advice would be to take every opportunity you can to learn more about yourself. What are your natural strengths? What are you passionate about? What interests you to the point that you choose to do it in your own time? What do you want to learn more about? What do others say that you are good at. What feedback have you had either formally or informally? What do you find easy to do? What are you motivated by?
On the other side of the coin what don’t you enjoy? What do you find difficult no matter how you try and apply yourself. What subject matter or tasks do you avoid as they don’t interest you? What feedback have you had from others regarding skills and behaviours you need to improve. What are you quite happy to pay others to do as you know this is more effective in terms of both money and time.
When looking at ourselves consider the following layers
- Personality … what do you naturally like doing and what are you naturally good at
- Motivation…. what interests and inspires you, what makes you feel good
- Confidence … what are you naturally confident doing
- What are your values and beliefs… what is really important in your life, what do you stand for? What do you firmly believe in?
- Attitude… day by day how would describe your attitude to daily life? How do you show up in the world? How would others describe you? A Ray of Sunshine always positive and inspiring , Cloudy – sometimes positive, sometimes negative or a Dark Storm – one of lifes victims.
- Behaviour… what do you do and how do you behave day in day out.
- Image … what image do you present to the world, how would others describe you?
These are just some of the things to consider as you become self aware.Learn more and how to apply this to audit and build your life plan in Own It available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2phNU6t
So it has been a while since the last blog and the months have certainly been busy. Just prior to the end of 2016 a project that I have been working on met a key milestone when the paperback version of my first book was published. It took a few more weeks until it was on Amazon in both kindle and paperback version; a few more weeks before it was officially launched and hit number one in 3 categories of Amazon.
The whole experience from the idea, through the planning phase. the writing process followed by the final editing has been amazing. I have learnt so much from those people that are experts in this field and also from others who have already trod this path and kindly shared their experiences and own learning.
The whole project came about very quickly, in fact this time last year I had no intention of writing a book in 2016. This is what happens when you find something that you love doing and it ticks a lot of elements in the individual motivational mix we all have inside of us. Having spoken with other coaches who had written a book I initially just began to explore the possibility of writing one in the future. I was so inspired by the simplistic process that the publishing company suggested that I decided to commit myself to the project in full in July 2016 by investing a whole day in planning the book outline. This turned out to be one of the best investments I made as in the space of 7 hours the ideas for content I already had inside my head having practiced as a coach for 20 years were formulated into 10 chapter headings. It was during this planning exercise that A G.A.M.E. model was also born as a way of formulating how I could convey to readers a few things; the way I work with clients, the way I have achieved major projects in my life and in the end the methodology to actually write the book OWN IT. I will take you through each element in more detail in future blogs but just as an introduction this is what it stands for
A – Awareness of self
G. – Goal Clarity
A. – Act Daily
M. – Momentum
E. – Enjoy & Evaluate
So that’s what I did with the book project. I knew I had the necessary discipline to take the project on, once I set my mind to something I do it! I set myself the goal of writing the book by the end of the year. I worked on some writing each day, I set up a system of writing on my IPAD then transferring it into a word doc in order to keep the momentum of writing alongside my busy schedule. I definitely enjoyed the whole process and I have evaluated what I have learnt for book two!
What I also did was surround myself with the right people – more on this in another blog
If you are interested in finding out more take a look at http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl or http://www.own-it-book.com
The 12 Emotional Steps
I am a planner by nature and whenever I embark on a project the first thing I do is draw up a master plan. This normally works in my favour enabling me to manage workload, meet deadlines, engage other involved parties and set up contingencies in case things go wrong. So when I think I have planned for every eventuality and something happens that blows the plan completely out of the water it is quite a shock and an experience that isn’t that familiar.
- The first emotion is shock – wow I wasn’t expecting that!
- The second emotion is disbelief – how did that happen, events that were completely unpredictable with the knowledge at that given time.
- The third is anger – how can this be happening to me?
- The fourth is disappointment – the master plan didn’t work and I thought it would
- The fifth is uncertainty – now what do I do, I thought this was going to happen and now it isn’t
- The sixth emotion is annoyance as others try and rationalise and suggest alternative courses of action to the one you wanted.
- The seventh – bouncing between acceptance and disappointment gradually more days of acceptance rather than any other emotion
- The eighth – learning and questions, so what did I learn about the plan, the process and myself and what do I want to do now
- The ninth – possible alternatives come into mind and get serious consideration
- The tenth – acceptance of situation, acceptance of any personal learnings and the acceptance of an alternative way forwards
- The eleventh – uncertainty again during the evaluation of all alternatives and decision on one way forwards – will it be as good as the one I originally planned for
- The twelfth – enthusiasm around the new alternative chosen
Now the big question – how much planning do I do for my new option? – should I be less attached to the outcome and more fluid with my planning. Should I trust in what will be will be rather than planning things with military precision and going through the twelve emotional steps above or is that just life?
I have been working with a lot of clients this month in the area of time management and making sure they are working on the right things. When you have really big goals you want to achieve or you have a lot of different conflicting things happening in your life it is vital to make sure you are not falling into the trap of being a “busy fool” . I love this phrase as we can all fall into this trap, we rush round feeling very busy and stressed but when we look back on the week or month its difficult to identify what we have achieved.
One thing that can really help in this area is to ensure your surroundings help you focus. Sometimes just the sight of my desk can stress me out if I have just dumped customer files, training materials and items into the office without sorting them out and putting them away. These sort of surroundings can set the scene for a unproductive day or week if they are left like this.
When you walk into an area or go by someones desk that is super tidy it creates the impression that this person is organised and in control.
To prevent getting into this cycle of clutter, disorganisation, working on the wrong things or being frozen into inaction due to the mountain of stuff to sort and do it is useful to have an ongoing system of putting away, de-cluttering, scheduling and creating time to sort out all of this. A lady who has written a very different book in this whole area is Marie Kondo in her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up https://www.amazon.com/Life-Changing-Magic-Tidying-Decluttering-Organizing/dp/1607747308. Worth adding to your reading list.