Decide, then build.

April 4, 2018

Change is easy. Make a decision, then go do it…and keep on doing it and, hey presto, you have the change you decided you wanted.

Except we all know it’s never that simple.

Change is flippin’ hard. We decide, then we try, fail, forget and eventually move on to something else with the scar tissue of another good intention that was going to improve our business, our life, health, or relationships in some important way but ultimately never came to anything and we live with the fall-out which will make us less up for trying the next time round.

I hate it when people in my industry make out that change is easy. It’s not. We get rooted into habits, conditioned into behaviour and ways of thinking that take concerted effort to get out of.

So what’s the answer?

I don’t want to fall into the same trap of now saying I have the simple answer which will solve everything! However, there is an important step that will help massively.

Build something.

Think about the change you want to make and then build around it. Build in a fitness class to your weekly schedule. Build in accountability by signing up with a few friends. Physically build a door or a wall or something else that’s within your control if it’s about getting more focused time on your top priorities. If it’s reading more, spend some money and put a whacking-great reading chair in the corner of your lounge and always leave an open book on it ready for you to pick up!

Whatever your goal, build something into your routine, your work, your team or your family that will mean you continually stumble over that thing and it whacks you in the shins every time you try to move so that you remember why you took that decision in the first place and have a much better chance of following through on the action required to secure the change needed.

 


Fight for a fit

March 8, 2018

Fit rarely comes easy.

My right foot is slightly bigger than my left, hence finding shoes that are super comfortable for both feet can be a bit tricky. I’ve had to try on lots of pairs and discover particular brands that work for me.

Similarly, I didn’t instinctively know what kinds of work would be a good fit for me. I’ve had to try things out, take assessments and profiles (I’ve just about done them all!), consciously reflect on my experiences to identify when and where I’ve felt best about my work.

Here’s a few questions that you can ask yourself, or as a manager you can ask of your team members, to help discover their best fit:

  • What parts of your work do you enjoy most?
  • What areas of your work do you feel most enthusiastic about?
  • What do you care most about achieving?
  • What do you think you do best?
  • What do you find most stressful?
  • In what tasks do you procrastinate most?

There are plenty of others, but these are a good start.

Good fit is worth fighting for. It increases productivity, retention, motivation and morale. It reduces turnover and stress. It has a positive impact on mental and physical health.

Good fit is in everyone’s interests.


Like a glove!

March 7, 2018

I’ve been obsessing this week about the concept of ‘fit’.

You know those super-comfortable old shoes that you can wear all day and not notice at all because they fit to perfection…

Apply this same idea to what we do each day.

So much in life can seem ill-fitted. The tasks we have to do at work that are way outside our best strengths and our particular interests. The sense of strain because the organisational purpose and values don’t match up to our own. Whatever the particulars, when it’s not right, everybody knows it.

Conversely, when we find ‘fit’, it is heavenly!

GloveThe context for my particular obsession has been using job-fit assessments and helping companies to develop job benchmarks – defining the abilities, interests and personality that would be spot-on for each role they are hiring (or promoting someone into). In essence, we have been painting (broadly) the picture of the person for whom each role might be a perfect fit.

Often we think of that as for the hiring company’s benefit – which of course it is – but I’ve been considering it from the applicant’s perspective. Far from being seen as a hindrance or obstacle to the applicant, anything which gives some objective feedback about suitability for the role they may be heading toward must surely be embraced.

Why on earth would I want to apply for and get a job, whether as a promotion or with a new employer, that I was going to soon discover was like a pair of shoes bought slightly too small. I thought they’d expand into comfort over a few weeks but they never did!

I love the concept of fit. I love the feeling of working in a role that’s perfect for me and I love seeing that happy ‘fits like a glove’ outcome when someone starts a new role and both hirer and hiree agree it’s a perfect match!

 


End in sight

February 21, 2018

On the radio this morning we heard the news that another cold snap is incoming for next week and we let out a collective weary groan.

pexels-photo-309384.jpegMy daughter especially is really looking forward to warmer weather and the thought of yet more freezing temperatures after the months of Winter we’ve already had, lowered her mood.

The thing that struck me though as we talked over our bowls of Cornflakes, own-brand Rice Crispies and Gluten-Free Granola was that this was likely to be the last dip before things are well and truly on the up weather-wise.

The mornings are getting lighter, so are the evenings, and we’ve had some warmer days already giving a glimpse of what’s to come. In this context, it was much easier to raise the spirits of the family because they had tangible evidence of things going the way they wanted.

The long, warm days spent in shorts and t-shirts, eating ice-cream after school and water-fights with friends in the street may be some way off yet, but it feels like we’re getting there and that makes enduring the present reality much easier.

The same is true in our work, in our DIY projects, anything really. We function better when we have some tangible indications of progress towards our goals. To do this, we need clear goals of course AND we need to have established definite ways to measure progress towards them. We need regular ‘small victories’ and to get our heads up long enough to notice that the nights are getting lighter and it wasn’t quite so bitter on the platform this morning!

How about taking some time today to pause and notice what tangible progress you’ve made already this year? Share that with your team if you can. Emit a collective sigh of satisfaction….and get back to it… hopefully with a renewed sense of resolve because the end is a little more in sight that you realised.

P.S. I’ve just realised this is one reason I often have the SatNav on even when I know where I’m going – I like to see the progress as the miles are covered and the destination draws closer. Counting down the miles is strangely satisfying!

 


A sudden jolt of empathy

February 12, 2018

It’s half term so there was no major rush getting everyone out the house this morning.

As I thought about the wonderful opportunity this presented for me to get my kids to do loads of useful stuff whilst they have all this time on their hands, that’s when the jolt of empathy hit! Don’t put adult expectations on 14, 12 and 10 year old children.

I used to love school holidays, especially the first morning. Lazing around…reading a bit…playing on the computer….all with no stress at all. Nothing to do and nowhere to be.

Yet here I was loading them up with my agenda of things to do! Don’t worry, I’ll still get them helping out with stuff…just with a bit more give first! I know that if I’m not so self-absorbed and enter into the joy of their world first, both they and I will get a much better result – more help, more willingness, less resistance, less conflict, more fun etc – than if I just launch ahead with what I want them to do.

I hope the jolt I was hit with might help you avoid making the same mistake I was rushing headlong into.

 

 


Catch both rabbits!

February 5, 2018

If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.

So says the ancient proverb… and there’s lot of wisdom in this. If you try to go in two directions at the same time, you’ll end up reaching neither.

Wouldn’t it be lovely then to only chase one rabbit? It would be heavenly to focus on just one thing but for most of us that seems like an unrealistic dream because we have so many different things running concurrently and we mustn’t drop the ball on any of them.

So what practical wisdom can we take from the age-old ‘Two Rabbits’ conundrum? Here’s just one thing that you may find helpful.

Manage transition between projects.

Think back to school. Maths lessons followed English followed History. Each lesson (at least the good ones) had a well-structured start and finish so you left in good shape to do whatever homework may be required and arrive back for the next lesson ready to continue. You were (again, in the good lessons!) able to give full focus to that one lesson for that one hour before moving on to the next.

Many challenges arise as we hop between projects and tasks holding many different things in our minds, not able to fully focus on any of them. Let’s take meetings as an example. People arrive at the meeting unprepared because they were doing something else, often unrelated, right up to the last moment they left to join the meeting, Then they leave the meeting and go straight to the next thing without processing what just happened. Instead they should be reviewing what just took place, scheduling any actions required on their part and swiftly following up with any further communication needed. When this doesn’t happen, next meeting we find agreed actions haven’t been done, or are part-done, little thought has been given to the implications of what was discussed last time and much inefficiency ensues!

Whether it’s a meeting with others or simply your own management of the various rabbits / balls / plates (pick your favourite metaphor!), it can really help to work on slowing down and focusing on good transitions. Doing this well can seriously boost your productivity and also reduce stress as things feel less hectic and out-of-control.

Give it a try and have a great week!


Systemise feedback (where possible)

October 24, 2017

The personal feedback I shared in the last blog came as a result of a structured feedback exercise.

Just recently I was involved in facilitating a two-day graduate programme for a large employer. One of the most valued parts of that training was a structured (set up!) peer feedback exercise.

Giving and receiving feedback in an adhoc way as things happen is a vital skill, especially for managers. There is no reason though that building in feedback to the normal work cycle shouldn’t be done. When it’s systematic and structured it’s often easier for people to receive. Like the graduates’ exercise, they were expecting it; it was part of the programme; therefore it wasn’t personal – or at least it didn’t feel like personal attack!

If you structure feedback to come at the end of every project perhaps, or as part of a fortnightly line-manager/team member one-to-one, it’s much easier to prepare well both to give and receive with an open, constructive attitude.

Finding a good process for feedback is also extremely helpful. My favourite at the moment is the commonly-used ‘WWW / EBI’ format.

What went well. Even better if.

I’d love to hear it you have any others that you find work well.