Posts Tagged ‘career success’

When Less is More

December 4th, 2018

“You can’t be your best self if your life is cluttered with the non-essential” – Greg McKeown

Busy.

It’s a word that is used every day by almost all of us. For many of us, our lives seem to not only be busy but getting busier with every waking minute and week that passes by…. especially at this time of the year!

It’s all too easy however to find ourselves caught in a sea of ‘busyness quicksand’ that leaves us both unproductive and stuck. Stuck with unforgiving diaries that see us stretched too thin. Stuck feeling like our time is constantly being hijacked by everyone else’s schedule. Stuck with problematic team members. Stuck in unfulfilling careers and doing things that simply aren’t us.

When you feel ‘stuck’ you are more often than not, running flat out, burning lots of energy and going nowhere fast. Finding yourself on the hamster wheel is exhausting, unfulfilling and unsustainable. The tricky thing is that by the time you realise you are on it; you are already spinning so fast that jumping off seems impossible and downright dangerous. The key to jumping off the wheel is recognising that it is nothing more than a routine – a routine that you firstly created and one you can absolutely change.

Greg McKewon, author of the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, makes a powerful case for achieving more by doing less. In his book he talks to the need to firstly understand and then adopt the discipline – and it is a discipline – of discerning what is absolutely essential and then eliminating what is not. In doing so you not only ensure that you are focused on making the greatest possible contribution to what is truly important for you, but you also take back the control for your own choices about where you invest your precious resources time and energy resources.

For many of us when we decide to simplify things, we approach it like we do when we de-clutter our wardrobe. We firstly wait until it is at bursting point when we can’t fit anything else in; or when everything is so worn out we ‘retire’ items to the bin. We then set about filling it back up with similar things that are just shinier and newer rather than thinking about what it is that we actually need.

As McKeown notes, mastering the art of Essentialism is two fold. Firstly it is a mindset, followed by some key actions (which he refers to as Exploring, Eliminating and Executing). The attached model is a great demonstration of the way people with Non-Essentialist versus Essentialist attitudes think and act – and what they ultimately get.

It is not just a matter of sitting down and taking a bunch of the non-essential things off the list or out of the diary. Equally important is determining what the essentials are and prioritising them in the calendar.

None of us want to get to the end of our lives wishing that we had been brave enough to take the leap – what ever that leap may be – to live the best version of ourselves. In McKeown’s words, avoiding this sad end ‘requires not just haphazardly saying no, but purposefully, deliberately and strategically eliminating the non-essentials which means not just getting rid of the obvious time wasters, but cutting out some really good opportunities as well’.

So a few suggestions for adopting the Keeping It Simple approach:

  • Understand you hold the power of choice
  • Conduct an audit on what is truly essential for you, your career or business and your life
  • Master the art of saying No
  • Own your space (diary) – both personally and professionally
  • Check in weekly: Is this the right routine? Does it need tweaking?
  • Diarise your own quarterly review

Whatever you have on your plate at the moment, got there because you said yes to it. What we keep on our plate and how we manage it is up to us.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Avoiding the Energy Crisis

November 21st, 2018

“Your energy is a valuable resource, distribute it wisely.” – Jay Samit

None of us are surprised to hear that when your energy levels are low, your work suffers. In fact most things suffer. Motivation wanes, productivity falls and efficiencies slow. Equally, failing to channel your energies in the right direction can also be just as problematic – distractions and frustrations abound with lots of energy expended for very little result.

As a consequence we often find ourselves facing mounting pressures and increasing demands – to which many of us typically respond by simply working longer hours. If I just do more, work harder, things will improve and I will get ‘through it’. When we don’t just simply ‘get through it’ we start to question our capability, purpose and impact. And, so begins a vicious cycle that if we aren’t careful can have severe ramifications for our health, career and relationships.

The problem with simply working longer hours is that you can still run out of them because there are only a fixed number in each day, week or year. Unlike time, energy though is a renewable resource that can be topped up when we know how. Knowing what depletes our energy and what refuels it is the key to developing healthy, sustainable work habits and supporting ongoing success.

As we race towards the end of the year, I would encourage you to think about how you manage and distribute your energy reserves. In doing so, you will not only enhance your opportunity to engage in meaningful work, you will maximise your efficiency.

Take a moment to consider where you sit on the above graph. Regardless of which quadrant you sit in, you need to understand why you are in that position.

If you are fortunate enough to sit in the ‘Fulfilled’ quadrant, you need to be clear about why you feel that way, what has helped you get there and what you need in order to stay there.

Conversely if you find yourself in one of the other three quadrants you need to determine why and what actionable steps you can immediately take to help you maximise both energy and productivity. Taking the time to critically reflect on the position you find yourself in opens up the pathway to higher level learning, deeper engagement and provides the platform for informed and confident decision making. It is also a critical exercise if you are to create a career and business you love.

Start by asking yourself these five simple questions:

What do I do and why? Nothing is more empowering than feeling aligned to your core purpose, talents and capabilities. The reality is that when you are inspired by what you do you are more actively engaged in your work and your business and you produce better results. Your purpose becomes your generator.

What daily habits fuel my energy? Of equal importance, is the ability to recognise those everyday habits that generate or rob us of our energy. Am I looking after myself physically, mentally and emotionally? Have I created healthy sustainable habits that will last beyond January and support optimal health in all areas of my life?

Am I bored or stuck in a rut? There is no doubt that routine kills energy. We all have things that we need to do but understanding how we can shake things up is important. Pushing the boundaries of our comfort zone more often than not also brings new knowledge, new networks, new opportunities and lessons that light a spark and fuels a passion for what we do.

Do I understand how my role and my skills add value to the business? We all like to know that our contribution is valued and how it impacts the overall success of our team and business. Initiating a conversation to understand what your value is or ways to increase it demonstrates a strong sense of accountability and desire to play an active role in both your own direction and that of the business you work for.

What relationships do I need to dedicate time and energy to? Too often one of our major blockers or causes of angst is between our key stakeholders and / or team members. Taking the time to understand individual work and communication styles is a critical part of not only developing our influencing and leadership skills but also to ensuring timely and effective outcomes.

As leaders, we face never ending pressures to do ‘more with less’ – less resources, less money and less people. Even with these ongoing pressures, most of us recognise the need to invest in our own and our employee’s knowledge and skillsets. However we also need to consider how we build and sustain capacity for ourselves and our people. Healthy behaviours and productive practices start with us.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Completing the People Puzzle

November 7th, 2018

“It’s always the small pieces that make the big picture” – Author Unknown

It is no secret that business leaders and organisations are under enormous pressure to become more nimble and agile in how they do business if they are to grow their position in tomorrow’s global marketplace. As they face increased market volatility, changing workforce demographics, increased demands for flexibility and a constant demand to do more with less, understanding how to best leverage their ‘people capability’ in a timely and efficient manner will be critical.

Whilst we’ve often heard it said that the key to effective workforce planning is in ensuring that the right people are in the right place at the right time, doing so in a rapidly changing environment is often far more difficult and complex than anticipated. With many change processes taking lengthy times to deliver, it is not unusual for new business needs to emerge midway that require organisations and individuals to pivot or change direction. Doing so seamlessly though is the challenge!

According to the 2016 Hay Group report, Delivering Strategy Through People, direct people costs make up 40% of organisational costs. With almost half the workforce in complex, knowledge intensive roles that are key to the organisation’s success and profitability, the cost of getting the ‘people puzzle’ wrong is high. Whilst the phrase ‘right people, right place, right time’ certainly isn’t redundant, there is a view that it needs to be expanded to ensure that it remains relevant and impactful.

No longer are the ‘right people’ necessarily part of our organisational headcount. With access to the right talent and skills – and a growing self-employed and contract led workforce – accessing external talent pools for one off requirements and interim projects is often a very real and viable option. How we identify and engage the right people with these relevant skills in a timely manner is key and will require strong partnerships and relationships not only with our internal people but also those in the external market.

Where once the term ‘right place’ tended to refer to a geographical location, it is now more appropriate to consider what role or area within the organisation the skills are required. As we continue to move away from more traditional, hierarchical organisational structures to flatter more matrixed team based models, how we enable our people to move with agility and confidence into the ‘right place’ as required will be critical.

As businesses continue to navigate unprecedented amounts of change they will be required to make quick decisions around how they (re) deploy the skills and talents of their people if they are to capitalise on emerging opportunities or mitigate risk against market changes. To do this, they need an agile and resilient workforce that can nimbly move and respond at the ‘right time’ and are not change adverse.
There is no doubt that the optimal workforce lies at the intersection of all three areas. Failing to do so will leave you as a business leader and the organisation feeling like they are sitting on a two-legged stool unable to find balance and stability. When you are out of balance it is all too easy to end up with too many people ‘sitting on the bench’, no longer aligned to the organisational strategy and where engagement and productivity is risked.

What follows are my four key tips to completing the ‘people puzzle’:

Know where your skills are: Both within your organisation and in the external marketplace.

Foster agility: Help your people develop agile mindsets to support changing workplace structures.

Make it easy for people to adapt: Consider the systems and processes that support changing roles, teams and locations.

Communicate, communicate, communicate: Ensure transparency and timely communication is delivered to support engagement and productivity.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts. Reach out to me below, or directly through LinkedIn.

Mastering the Art of Delegation

October 24th, 2018

“The best leaders are the ones have enough sense to pick good men to do what they want done and self restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

We all know that our success is greater than us as individuals. However when it comes to letting go, entrusting others and delegating it can be easier said than done.  Building teams and surrounding ourselves with those who are not only willing and able, but who also value quality and pursue excellence is what we as leaders all aspire to do. But are we our greatest challenge? Are we limiting our success by not mastering the art of delegation?

Make no mistake, you can make or break your leadership success by the way you delegate… or in your failure to delegate. Great delegation not only saves time, money and frustration, it also provides you with an opportunity to build capability and capacity in your people. It is a balancing act that not only requires you to understand how to delegate but what level of delegation to adopt.

Recognising how and why you delegate (or not) is quite possibly the key to working out how to do it properly. For most people, they simply don’t do it because it takes a lot of effort up-front. When you are capable of carrying out the task or project in your sleep and it is relatively straightforward for you to complete, it is very tempting to adopt the mindset of “It’s just quicker and easier if I do it myself’. The big question though is ‘Would it be a good use of my time?’ If you do this for all the little things that you are more than capable of, you will very quickly find yourself not only operating at a lower level but also missing opportunities for yourself and your team because you are too busy to see them.

The second reason that many people fail to delegate is that they find it difficult to relinquish control. How often have you felt the wave of disappointment with the results of what you have delegated? The results don’t match what you had expected or aren’t in line with the way in which you would have done it. Sometimes this is due to the person carrying out the task but sometimes it is also the fault of the person giving the task or project. Understanding what level of delegation is appropriate for the project and to what person is key.

At the heart of effective delegation is communication and clarity. As leaders, you firstly need to be very clear about what you must do versus what you entrust to others. Gaining buy-in or desire from others to want to support and be involved is the next critical step to ensuring quality outcomes are achieved. People are much more engaged and committed to delivering on a responsibility when they have been bought through a process of agreeing to it. By investing in time to explain, discuss and agree the critical outcomes, responsibilities and timeframes you are creating robust frameworks for success.

Understanding who to delegate what to and the extent of freedom to deliver is possibly one of the hardest aspects to mastering the art of delegation. It is also a fundamental driver of organizational effectiveness and the growth of your people, as well as your own success.

To do this effectively you need to understand the capability of your people and what you require in order to remain ultimately accountable as the manager. I would encourage you to think about the 6 levels of delegation below and where they may best apply to you, your current team and projects. Each level progressively offers more autonomy and ownership for the person(s) involved.

  1. Instruction: ‘I need you to do exactly this…A,B,C’
  2. Investigation: ‘Can you please gather me information on XYZ and come back to me for a decision’
  3. Investigation and Decision Making: ‘Once you have all of the information, let’s sit down together to discuss and decide next steps’. A higher level of this could include the additional step of being advised what help is required from you as a leader.
  4. Analysis and Recommendation: ‘What is your view of the situation and recommendation for proceeding?’
  5. Recommendation and Sign Off: ‘Let me know your decision and why before checking back in with me to proceed’
  6. Manage and Inform: ‘Happy for you to do what you think is best, just keep me in the loop or report back to me by X time’

Underpinning the success of all levels is the communication and support frameworks that surround them. Open, transparent and timely communication is critical if people are to feel empowered and supported in what they need to do. Opportunities to ask questions, collaborate and discuss outcomes at any point will not only empower individuals but also motivate and drive commitment to the project and the results.  Without these frameworks in place you run the risk of ‘upward delegation’, which occurs when people run into trouble and they shift their responsibility back to you.

As leaders we all have an obligation to not just deliver on our core responsibilities but to maximise results and opportunities for our business and our people. For those who learn to master the art of delegation, they learn to do this not just for others but also for themselves.

What are some of the biggest challenges you find when delegating? As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Leveraging Your Career Story

September 12th, 2018

“People without leverage work for those with leverage” – Robert Kiyosaki

In talking with many professionals about their career, I often hear them reflecting and saying ‘I was just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time’. For many, this right time and right place afforded them rapid career progression, opened the door to key networks and positioned them for next steps in their career journey. Invariably they were exciting and challenging times that were rich in reward and stimulation. Confidence, clarity and choice seemed to abound.

What happens though when it’s time to consider your next career step and this ‘luck’ doesn’t seem to be quite so apparent? Or when you face the need to relocate as part of your role to a new part of the business or in a different location and you are required to effectively start anew? How do you take proactive action to leverage your career background, knowledge, skills and networks to support ongoing career success and fulfillment?

Too often these career scenarios can leave individuals feeling irrelevant, trapped and without choice or control. If we aren’t careful these feelings can all too easily lead to moments of apathy where because we don’t know what to do, we do nothing; or they can sabotage prospective opportunities because we fail to understand what they truly are. Learning how to not only identify the right opportunities but also translate what you have in your own toolkit to match the business or market requirements is critical.

As George Bradt notes in his Forbes article Creating Leverage When None Seems To Exist we all run into roadblocks however it is our ability to adapt, adjust and create leverage in times when there doesn’t appear to be any. The key word here is ‘create’ and not just merely identify. As he notes this comes down to attitude about roadblocks and the need to ask am I simply accepting them as the status quo or am I looking for ways around them?

Like many things, creating leverage in our career requires planning and time. One of the most dangerous things we can do is to not take consistent action whilst we are in a role and business that we enjoy. Leaving it until we want to embark upon change or worse still when it is forced upon sees us trying to create leverage in a time that is often highly emotive, stressful and time pressured.

As part of creating leverage in your own career, I would encourage you to take action with the following 6 factors in mind:

1. Identify what you stand for: Today we are increasingly being asked to know what it is that we stand for in our careers. It is essentially your over arching career mission – what do you hope to impact, who and how. Is it tied to an industry, a key challenge, leading through core business cycles; innovation, empowerment or other?

2. Define your core expertise: Clarity on exactly what your core strengths, knowledge and leadership styles are, is essential in identifying and attracting the next opportunity.

3. Understand how you are regarded: Knowing how others perceive and regard you and your expertise is essential if you are to know what you can leverage or conversely need to overcome.

4. Educate yourself on the market: In order to understand what is transferable you need to know how what the market /business wants and needs. Failing to do so limits your opportunities to tailor your story and create interest and demand in your background.

5. Hone your positioning: All too often people fail to succinctly articulate their knowledge, capabilities and ambitions are. It is essential to gain clarity on each of these areas if you are to engage in meaningful conversations and explorations of an opportunity.

6. Connect & reconnect: As noted by Adam Grant, Wharton Business leader and author of Give and Take success has become increasingly dependent on the interactions we have with others rather than on the individual drivers of success such as commitment, hard work and passion. To support our success we need to understand who and how to connect and reconnect with if we are to gain an accurate insight into what opportunities exist and how we can align ourselves to them.

Creating leverage requires a whole lot more than ‘luck’. As the Roman philosopher Seneca notes ‘luck is the moment when preparation meets opportunity’. With this in mind the big question to ask yourself is what are you doing to prepare for that next meaningful opportunity?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Building The Mo To Go

January 22nd, 2018

‘While a good leader sustains momentum, a great leader increases it’

– John Maxwell

It’s amazing what a holiday will do. As many of us have returned to work over the last fortnight we have invariably borne witness to the benefits of what a break will bring:  a renewed sense of energy, excitement and possibility for the year ahead. Even if we don’t subscribe to the notion of new years resolutions, most of us have at least stopped to consider what we want from the year that is 2018 and embrace the notion that it is – or at least can be – a fresh start.

However the key to making this fresh start count lies in understanding how we can convert this sense of excitement and optimism into real momentum. Momentum that will energize, enhance performance and make change easier.

Whist excitement is a core ingredient of momentum it starts at the beginning. Momentum builds at the end. Momentum is the result of a series of successful endings not beginnings. It almost sneaks up on you and comes when you can look around and say ‘wow we are really starting to kick goals’. You can feel the pace pick up and you find a rhythm that starts to carry you rather than you carrying everything. As John Maxell notes, ‘excitement flares up, momentum builds up’.

As 2018 swings into full gear and we already find ourselves looking towards February, committing to actions that build momentum and not just excitement is crucial not just to our own success but that of our team and the businesses that we lead.

It only takes a loss of momentum for us to realize just how critical it is. Without it we are far more likely to find ourselves distracted and doubting our ability to actually achieve what we set out to do. As Jocelyn Glei so aptly points out in her article The Art Of Momentum: Why your Ideas Need Speed: “Our inner critic awakens and we start second guessing ourselves. Other people’s demands creep in, vying for our attention and focus. We start to generate shiny, new ideas that seem even more worthy of execution, tempting us to move onto the next big thing without ever finishing”.

And herein lies the danger – we can’t actually create momentum if we aren’t ever really finishing anything. It is in the success of delivery, implementation and review that we find new ways to grow and improve and innovate on what we do. It is in these moments that we can leverage the momentum we’ve built and redefine or reaffirm direction, goals and actions.

Whilst momentum is built on a series of successful endings it still requires next steps. The minute that you stop or slow down, momentum will wane. It requires a level of ‘fitness’ that allows you to keep moving. As leaders, our role is to help create this level of team fitness but provide the training regime that increases it. To do this we need real clarity about what momentum is and isn’t. Failing to do so will see us kill it rather than build it.

Momentum can be felt and is underpinned by the belief that wins and successes are probable rather than a lucky outcome. It is borne out of belief and alignment. Belief and alignment in the vision, direction and understanding and seeing the value that what we as individuals bring to the team and organization. It is not about simply pumping people up and cheering from the sidelines.

So as leaders what do we need to do to convert the excitement of a new year into real momentum? I would encourage you to consider the 5 tips below:

  • Define the wins: Building commitment to action requires crystal clarity on what the goal is and why it is relevant. Everybody should be able to answer the questions: Why are we doing this and what do I need to do to play my part and contribute?
  • Align strengths, style and drive: Leverage strengths, influencing and communicating styles and individual ambition. People who can not only get the job done for themselves but rally those around them and drive outcomes will build and leverage momentum across a business.
  • Acknowledge the ‘small’ wins: Successful leaders know how to turn small wins into big initiatives. They understand not only the motivational power of celebrating incremental achievements but also the future potential each win can bring.
  • Review: Once completed, the opportunity to evaluate provides insights for future growth, opportunity and innovation. It provides the solid building blocks to build and leverage momentum, define next steps and drive future success.
  • Repeat: Don’t stop! Momentum demands movement. To truly capitalize on the success and benefits of momentum, you need to define next steps and take action.

So as we talk about what we are going to achieve for this month and quarter, let’s focus on what we are going to finish so that we can build and leverage the momentum gained into the remainder of the year.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Margot

 

Contact Us

Designed by WRD © Margot Andersen 2019