self-development

February 28, 2011

Personal PR – How To Fly Your Own Flag

On many occasions of any career, there are times where it’s vital to represent yourself fully. To make the best publicity you can for ‘yours sincerely’. And there are easy tactics you can use…

Whether you are applying for a promotion in your existing organization; looking for a new job altogether; or simply experiencing a performance review, there are steps you can take that will enhance your outcome.

Most, if not all individuals, find it hard to tweak their achievements to make the best of them. Whether this comes from naivety, modesty or simply a misjudgment of what they can pluck from their experiences, it’s hard to say.

The truth is that long hours wringing hands and fretting need not be suffered. Because in the main, all you need when being assessed is already within you. All you need to create a really effective candidate – or A+ result in your performance.

There are six key steps to making the most of your assets:-

1. Start Early

Be aware. When you are in the thick of experiences and learning, always, but always be prepared to make a note – however small – of something that you did. You don’t have to write a whole portfolio of it, that can come later (just kidding!). Just notice when things happen.

2. Link to Role

By being aware of what you might need to take careful note of before you start looking for it. Here you’re simply looking for the categories upon which you will ultimately be tested and then you can start to create a list of your personal activities (the ‘What I did’ of your evidence).

3. Keeping Up

As you create this list of your activities, you categorize them as you go and as the evidence piles up, create a note also of the gaps too. Then you can pro-actively ‘create’ the activities you need to make your offer almost irresistible. You will become rounded and thorough and then have the luxury of deciding not just that you have enough, but you have a choice of evidence you can talk about when you are being assessed.

4. ‘I Can’t Find Enough’

It’s vital to understand that the evidence you create does not need to move mountains. A clear action you personally took, where you can demonstrate just four simple elements – What you did; Why you did it; What the outcome was and What you learned is perfect – and keep it short and succinct. It gives them clear facts and a space to ask you more too – A perfect candidate!

5. Last Minute?

Left it too late? No problem! All you need is a kindly colleague to ask you the questions and push you for answers. It’s amazing at what we leave out or underestimate in ourselves. With focus, it’s possible to create quite comprehensive evidence if you are coached to create it in a couple of hours with a ‘coach’ friend drawing from you the actual – even where you think there are few.

6. Blagging!

Actual lying can never be condoned – least of all because you’ll get found out and if you were successful and got something without really deserving it, likely as not it wouldn’t suit you anyway. You can – and must – embellish, by really stretching out all you do in a category and make it really sing for you. Every scrap of paper evidence; every single impressive fact and figure pile up to become much more interesting to assessors.

7. And Finally

Always but always focus on what you did. Yes, you personally. Using ‘we’ and’ they’ won’t cut it. Be brave and strong and shout about you out loud. Use the ‘I’ word and really show what you are made of.

We all do pretty good work. We all deserve that you be recognized and in the main, we don’t shout about ourselves enough. And when you don’t, who will?

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Management Basics, Managing Me by Martin

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September 16, 2010

How to Manage 14% Better

Many organisations now use surveys to see how they are doing. Some are focused at customers and clients, whilst others look at how the employees think their workplace is.

The majority of employee surveys fell out of a brilliant piece of work by two researchers at Gallup – Curt Coffman and Marcus Buckingham – and led to their iconic book ‘First Break All the Rules’.

They found that how employees responded to just 12 statements about the work experience would dictate the profitability of any team, department or organisation. They called these Q12.

Using Q12 required a licence from Gallup (and hence why they aren’t shown here, though you can find them if you Google them), so many organisations pinched the concept and just wrote the questions a bit differently.

In fact, over time they have added significantly to the 12 original statements, with many employees being asked to respond to up to 50 or more. Which rather defeats the object! Still, many HR and leadership teams couldn’t help themselves when given the opportunity to confuse and irritate their people!

A couple of the questions related to the employees experience of their manager. These related to interactions the manager has with the people in the team and how recently too, so I can share a story.

Jim (name changed) had faced a dire problem. On his promotion, he had inherited an operation with problems all over the place, which he’d had to fix. In the first year, sorting out core issues had been a focus expected of him by his own superiors.

When the employee survey was in, he didn’t do so well in the measures of him (though some results might have related to the previous guy too). In year two, he made a very conscious effort to be more visible to his people; to speak with them more often and to, well, be a bit happier too!

The year two results showed him still below the average for managers like him, but they had improved by over 14% on the previous year.

The moral of the story? If you want to engage better with your people (= be more effective with them), get out there and spend time with them – all of them.

You know it makes sense.

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Management Basics, Managing Me by Martin

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August 9, 2010

Waving The Management Magic Wand – Part 2

Last week, we looked at how to make more of the opportunities you have to make things different.

Wafting your own magic wand around yourself and the way you do things is one thing, but how can you use it effectively to ‘magic’ better ways of doing things from your people?

BTW, if you have one of these – let me know and I’ll patent it.

Because here’s the secret. You can only change yourself and you cannot change others directly, however hard you try.

Now, what you can do (and successful managers do this very effectively), is to amend your own behaviors and attitudes to influence your people to be different. When they are different, they will see better ways to be and then the delivery of their work will improve.

The ball is back in your court.

So, here’s an action you might want to think about. What are the issues that you come up with that are your ‘I wish…’ moments with your people.

Then, what are ways that you could start to amend the way YOU are, that might be more likely to get the performances that would help them grow and develop into what you want?

Don’t know? Then ask them what they need to be different from you – and how that will help them.

This tactic makes the difference in so many ways.

You partner with them in solutions; you show that you are willing to change; you show you are not the smart-arse who thinks they know everything; you show you value them for their input too (there are more benefits, by the way…).

In the ‘Circles of Influence’ in your life, you are at the very center.

Make it worthwhile the only way you can, by looking inside first, before you seek to blame others.

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Management Basics, Managing Me by Martin

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August 2, 2010

Waving The Management Magic Wand – Part 1

OK, so we’re all managers, right? And although we might keep it to ourselves, we all probably have moments when we whisper to ourselves, ‘I wish…’.

Never fear, we all in this together, so you can tell me it’s so…

Little things that our workplace does to us that really, it would be so cool to, well, be different.

Whilst I am not able to give you the magic of Master Potter’s magic wand, I can help you a little here.

It’s about being focused and taking action.

Part one this week is about issues that are all about you. Next week we’ll attack those ‘I wish…’ issues about your people.

For this week, we’ve enough to work on with you alone.

When you want things to be different, there is only one answer to that wishfulness thinking. It’s about grasping the issue ahead of you and being strong (sometimes brave) enough to handle it.

You see, many time we want things to be different, yet we want magic to happen. Here’s a heads-up. The magic will only happen when you have the wand in your hand and you make it happen.

If they are issues about the way you do things, be resolute and decide it’s going to be different from now on – or, decide that you are going to live with it and find work-arounds that will make the difference.

So you can park the challenges someplace else apart from right in your face causing you worry, stress and frustration.

The wand, as they say, is in your hands (and, in case the message didn’t quite get there – no-one else’s, so, if it’s your way, stop blaming everyone else).

Filed under Blog, Management Basics, Managing Me by Martin

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March 12, 2010

Management Development Tips – Look Inside Yourself First

Progressive managers learn to develop themselves by ensuring they continue to grow through their careers.

When they get stuck, the first place they look is within.

All good managers have the innate capability to look inwardly from time to time to understand better how they are doing.

They can be very focused and objective about how they go about their self-assessment, or – which is much more value-creating on a different level – they can ask their team about how they are doing as well.

When you are able to do this, you’ll have a far greater knowledge of how you work yourself, which is extraordinarily useful, generating interesting insights as well as offering lots of possibilities too.

One of the reasons people (not just managers), struggle with a better understanding of themselves, is that they are frightened of what they might come up with.

It’s a scary place, being your real self – especially when, for a long time – many years even – you have become used to playing an inauthentic role. Truth is, we are all acting a part in our lives, because of the way we have become fashioned through our experiences.

And it can make us both uncomfortable as well as less capable when we are working outside our natural skin.

Once you have taken steps to recognize any areas where you need to fine tune them, you can take steps, often with the support and help from your team, to develop your skills in a much more productive way.

For junior managers, you can start this right from the beginning of your management role. By engaging others in your team with your development through a bit of self-analysis, you will help them see that this is the most valuable way to progress their performance.

For more experienced managers, such openness, whilst relatively rare, has enormous possibilities for you as well as the team itself.

Being open about who you are and how you go about your work, is most revealing – not least in the response you get from your people, which whilst initially may be a little puzzled, is likely, over time, to become fascinated by the internal changes you make and they can learn from too.

Often there will be programs that will be able to help you. Your organization may have one-off training courses you can do. You may have team members or colleagues who have the specific experiences you need if you take the time to look around.

There is nothing like being focused, taking your development into your own hands and creating the opportunities for your own development yourself.

If you sit around waiting for the magic workshop to transform your management development to clear all your shortcomings, you may well have to wait a long time indeed.

Far better to seek out support from an experienced hand that will be able to guide you through ‘learning by doing exercises’ that will neatly feather into your day-job.

Filed under Blog, Building the Future, Management Development Tips, Managing Me by Martin

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March 10, 2010

Management Development Tips – Self- Driven Learning Is The Best

Management development is a critical activity for all managers to undertake, whatever their levels of expertise.

Noticing what you need to do differently is the vital first step and then taking action without waiting for others to do it for you.

There can be amazing value when you are focused enough to want to develop and grow.

It is pretty obvious that there are many managers out there who are at different starting points in their careers. Knowing where to start as you move your career along can be a bit tricky.

Because what’s just right for a new manager, still getting their basics right, will be very different for a seasoned manager who – when being very honest – will know exactly where they have their weaker points that will need attention.

Please remember, wherever you are up the ladder of success, there will always be something that you can develop, regardless of the level of experience you have and the interest you take in your own future growth.

It can be much more challenging when you feel things aren’t going as well as they might and then try to pass the blame to anything that will take it. Like your employees; outside influences; the weather even (it has been known!).

Where you are new, you’ll look for an experienced hand to guide you quickly to help you make a great start. You will be able to absorb all sorts of information and it will all be very valuable.

You know that it’s important to reflect on what you are learning and sense how it is serving you. It is easy to get distracted, of course, and you will need to be choosy. It’s also worth taking time out to reflect on your behaviors, to check out whether the ‘how’ of the ways you do things is the most appropriate and productive.

For those more experienced, you see things in different ways, from a position of ‘been there, done that’. Much experience is invaluable for you and the key to check here is whether what you do has served you well – no, really, check it out with your people – so that you can select other options to make the difference going forward.

It just depends on you to take a few minutes out of your week to find what you need to move forward, that’s all. When you find that specific little gem you can improve – even just a little – you really will find that it’s been worth your while.

It’s worth noting that the very action you take to improve your performance shows that you are one of the small percentage who are prepared to take their career into their own hands.

With that level of a pro-active spirit, aligned with the activities and learning you can find – often very inexpensively – out there, you have much greater opportunities to be successful than many of your colleagues.

And that is immensely valuable, both financially and for your own fulfillment too, as well as the development and growth of your own people, which you will inevitably begin to support them with as part of your focused development.

Management development is a fascinating activity for managers – of any age or experience – to get involved in and the most valuable and rewarding comes from grasping the nettle and taking personal responsibility for your own growth.

Filed under Blog, Management Development Tips, Managing Me by Martin

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