Every week I share a few ideas to help you finish strong. A great ending sets the stage for success next week.
Work some magic by re-approaching “What’s not working?” discussions.
All of us have been in the project wrap-up that focused on what went wrong or the team brainstorm meeting that emphasizes looking at where we have to improve. While there’s a place and purpose for those discussions, they emphasize the negative and frankly, they generate the same lists over and over again.
At the next occasion (why not today?) pull your team together for a creative dialog and ask, “What’s working well that we should do more of?” Be prepared for a slow start followed by a torrent of ideas, energy and enthusiasm. Take great notes and be certain to have the team prioritize those they believe are the most important. And then challenge them to put the ideas into action.
This simple framing change is an antidote to the negativity and frustration attached to too many of our team and group discussions. Try it and watch the magic unfold!
Shift the Focus to Your Own Professional Development.
I offer regular reminders in this series and in my other blog posts to take time and focus on the professional development plans of your team members. It’s challenging for most busy leaders and team members to stay on top of this, and kudos if you’re current. (If not, it’s time to catch up and refresh those plans and ensure progress. After all, the calendar year is more than half over.) Now, it’s time to look in the mirror and assess your own professional development progress.
Ask and answer:
- How am I refreshing my skills?
- What have I read that has challenged me to re-think my role and/or raise my performance level?
- What new skills have I developed this past year?
- Have I received feedback that has challenged me to change or reinforce key behaviors?
- What was the last training session I attended that wasn’t mandated by H.R.?
- Am I doing ostensibly the same work this year as last year?
- What challenging new assignments have I completed this year?
If you’re answers are less than complete, it’s time to get to work. Take the time to talk with your boss and team members and solicit input and feedback. Explore external training courses that will challenge you to stretch and develop new skills. And importantly, sit down with your boss, ask for input on his/her perceptions of your professional development needs and jointly develop a plan. If your boss isn’t the sympathetic or thoughtful type on professional development, come to the discussion prepared with a plan and suggestions versus expecting him/her to generate the ideas. Last and not least, seek out opportunities to build new skills through job rotation opportunities or taking on challenging new projects.
As I reference regularly in my “It’s Your Career” series, you truly do own your own professional development. Now more than ever in an era of constant change, the only security we have is the security of ensuring that our skills are refreshed and current. Don’t let your learning program go dormant.
That’s it for this week. Enjoy your weekend and come back next Monday ready to conquer the world. -Art
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An ideal book for anyone starting out in leadership: Practical Lessons in Leadership by Art Petty and Rich Petro.