Archive for February, 2012

Love what you do #3: Maximise your strengths

February 10, 2012

I’ve always found that making the most of what I’m good at ensures I enjoy my job more. Knowing what I’m good at comes from different areas:

– I get feedback from others when I coach or train them

– I feel it; I come away feeling on a high; I have that sense of self-satisfaction that comes from just knowing I’ve done a good job

– I can measure the results against success criteria I’ve set myself (or others have set)

But sometimes we lose sight of what we’re good at. We get caught up in the day-to-day stuff, and take our strengths for granted.

Key questions

  • When was the last time you carried out a SWOT analysis on yourself? If it’s been a while, try it again and focus mainly on your Strengths.

*Here’s a SWOT grid I use when working with clients. In each section I’ve included some prompts; things to consider when completing the grid.

  • When was the last time you asked others what you’re good at? Sometimes it’s easier to do it this way. My experience in carrying out SWOT analyses with people is that they find it hard to think about their own strengths, and easier to think of other peoples’. A common reaction to others telling you what you’re good at is: “but that’s just my job, that’s what I do.” As you’re carrying out your daily duties, you are building up your skill set, developing your capabilities and growing these into your strengths.

Once you’ve got your strengths list, look for opportunities to use these more often. You’ll probably find that some activities relating to your strengths give you more enjoyment than others. For example, one of my strengths is organisation, but I don’t get as much enjoyment from being organised with my quarterly accounts as I do being organised in preparing for work with my clients!

What are your strengths, and how do you maximise them?

(Photo credit: Idea go)

Love What You Do #2: Stretch Yourself

February 7, 2012

… Not quite what I meant! (I’d certainly do myself an injury if I attempted this.) Although there are definitely health benefits to regular exercise, and getting up and moving about regularly if you have a desk-based/sitting down job.

In this second post in the Love what you do series, I’m talking about stretching yourself mentally … encouraging you to venture out of your comfort zone now and again to help you grow and develop!

Tip 2: Stretch yourself!

Some people love to constantly live in their stretch zone, spending much of their time trying new things, new experiences, pushing themselves physically or mentally to do or be better. I’m not suggesting that in order to love what you do more – you should be a constant stretch-zone occupant! But if you don’t step into this area now and again you’re in danger of being too comfortable …. too ‘stale’.

By stretching yourself occasionally, and learning from these new ventures, your skills and competencies will increase, leading to you feeling refreshed, re-energised, more confident and boosting your enjoyment of what you do!

Key questions

  • Which of your current activities are in your comfort zone?
  • Which are in your stretch or panic zones? (See activity here, to help with these 2 questions, if needed)
  • What’s the balance of activities in each zone? I tend to have about 70% in my comfort zone and 30% in my stretch zone, avoiding the panic zone as far as possible! But you may be different.
  • What percentages will work for you, to ensure you love what you do more?

Interested to hear your experiences on this topic.

(Photo credits: stretch, creative mind)

Love What You Do #1: Get Clarity

February 6, 2012

To celebrate International Coaching Week I’ve put together a series of tips to help maximise what you do at work. This Love What You Do series starts today with Tip 1: Get Clarity!

[NB I write this series of tips in the context of the workplace, but you could apply most, if not all, the ideas to other areas of your life.]

One of the key factors in enjoying any job I’ve done is being really clear about my role. If I don’t have that clarity, it impacts on my motivation levels and my ability to apply myself successfully to the job at hand.

Key questions

  • So, how clear are you about the expectations of your line manager/colleagues?
  • How clear are you about your job description, and how this affects your day-to-day routine?
  • How do you know when you’ve achieved your targets? Have success criteria been set? What feedback do you get, or do you just know it inside?
  • What about when changes are brought in – are you given (or do you seek out) the clarity you need on how these changes impact on you (day-to-day as well as longer-term)?
  • What are all the different ways you could get clarity about your role?

Use these questions as a starting point to work on getting that clarity now to make 2012 your most successful yet!

(Photo credit: Jeroen van Oostrom)

Motivate me! (Part 2)

February 3, 2012

So … how do you know that you’ve done a good job? In Part 1 I posed this question and encouraged you to answer it as fully as possible, and in relation to a particular work-based target. If you’ve not read Part 1, or answered the question yet, I suggest you take a moment to do so now – before you read on!

So how did you answer it? Were your answers along the lines of ‘Style A’ …

  • I just know!
  • I feel it
  • I achieve my targets
  • I achieve what I set out to do
  • I measure my progress against my success criteria

Or were they more like ‘Style B’ …

  • People tell me
  • I get great results / earn more money
  • I get good feedback from colleagues / clients
  • I find out during my performance management / appraisal meetings
  • I can see my team members are happy / succeeding / achieving great results

Or perhaps your answers were a bit of both!

There is no right or wrong here. Your preferred motivation style just is what it is. Take a look at the language you used to answer the question. Did you use more ‘I’ or ‘me’ language, or did you refer to others / external sources of feedback?

Results! ….

Style A = Internal motivation

If you’re internally motivated – you don’t need external praise and will tend to make your own decisions about the quality of your work, rather than asking other people what they think.

Your motivation is self-generated, and you rely on your own judgment when deciding what to do.

You also have a tendency to resist others telling you what to do. As you don’t generally need praise from others – you tend not to give feedback, which can be difficult if you’re a team leader or manager, and your team are more externally motivated (see below).

Style B = External motivation

You rely on recognition / feedback from others and rewards.

You’re more motivated when someone else makes the decision (e.g. on how to move forward with a team project).

You generally make reference to external sources (other people / information from elsewhere) to make the judgment on how well you’re doing.

If you don’t get sufficient feedback you won’t know how well you’re doing, and this will have a negative impact on your motivation levels. Feedback from others can also come from non-verbal / body language sources.

Using these results to motivate your team

These results will help you to identify your own preferred style (for internal/external). The next step is to use the information from both of these posts to identify your team members’ styles.

1. Pay attention to how they respond to feedback and / or how often they come to you / others seeking approval for their actions.

2. If unsure, or you can’t find sufficient evidence, ask them the question I posed in Part 1, or ask who they involve when making a decision. If they mainly refer to others, they will be more externally motivated. If they mainly talk about being able to make the decision on their own, they are more likely to be internally motivated.

3. Motivate ‘internal’ staff with phrases such as:

– “This is the target we’re aiming for. I could make some suggestions to achieve it, but at the end of the day, only you can decide the best way forward.”

– “What do you think are the steps we could take to achieve _______?”

4. Motivate ‘external’ staff with phrases such as:

– “When you complete this project on time, others will notice / you’ll get good feedback.”

– “I would strongly recommend that you (make the changes we discussed at the last staff meeting, by Friday … etc.)”

– “Think of the results you’ll get if you do ______ !”

About 40% of people are largely internally or externally motivated; and 20% are equally both. However, in a particular job sector, you may get a higher percentage of one type, due to the nature of the job.

So how did you fair … and what steps are you going to take regarding motivating your team? In my experience, leaders tend to be more internally motivated. They need to have that internal driver and a strong sense of knowing what they want and how to get there.

Would love to hear your comments on this!

(Picture credit: David Castillo Dominici)