Posts Tagged ‘ goals ’

If You Were a First Time Manager Again, What Would You Do Differently?

As we grow and learn as human beings we come across things in life which make us wonder how different things could have been if we knew then, what we know now. Working for a leadership company now, I often think about my first time manager role and how I really wasn’t as good of a manager as I could/should have been.  I wasn’t equipped with the right skills that I needed.

I want to share with you my experience about becoming a first time manager, here goes…..

I was 21 years old and worked for a very well known UK bank insurance call center,  I managed a team of 10-15 employees. I had previously worked as part of this team before I went to university and during  my holidays, so the team were my friends. I climbed up the ranks from individual contributor to team lead. When I became a manager of the team, needless to say things changed.  I was still everyone’s friend and I still went out with my close friends on the team Saturday nights, but at work there was a bit of “them versus me.” When people were performing I thought things were great, but when they weren’t being a first time manager was really tough. I remember many a night, going home and crying wondering what I had done to deserve people being so horrible to me, and thinking I never want to be a manager again.

Looking back, I brought some of it on myself. Below are some of the mistakes I made…..

  • I thought I needed to have all of the answers
  • I thought I needed to be authoritative and hard otherwise people wouldn’t respect me
  • I followed all of the rules & guidelines the company set to the T, 100% of the time
  • I never really listened or was open to be persuaded
  • I shied away from conflict, until it blew up in my face
  • The company set the goals which were very day-to-day focused, e.g., call handling times, etc. I never as a manager set any long term goals for my team or development goals, I simply followed the script, mainly because I didn’t know any different.
  • We didn’t celebrate achievements enough.

Knowing what I know now, there are lots of things I would have done differently in my first time manager role. I won’t write them all, because I could be here for days but I’ve noted just a few a below.

  • Breathe – You don’t have to answer everybody’s questions straight away. Take five minutes to reflect and stay calm even when stressed.
  • Listen – Not just for the sake of letting others talk, but really listen to what people are saying. Be open to being persuaded.
  • I wouldn’t have pretended to be something I wasn’t. I am not hard faced and authoritative, quite the opposite. People see through masks, I would have told my truth about who I am, and what I expect from the team.
  • I would have set clear expectations and goals for my team, to help them grow and develop. Worked hard to create growth opportunities for my team.
  • I would have told myself – Don’t take things so personally! I know that’s easier said than done but I used to beat myself up about not being everything to everyone. Remember you are only human.
  • When things weren’t going to plan with the team or team member, I would’ve dealt with the situation there and then and thought about my words very carefully. Asked them about what went wrong, ensure no judgement or blame.
  • Asked for help. Quite often in life, we are ashamed to ask for help. I don’t know why, because everyone in life at some point needs direction and or support.

My experience of being a first time manager, and feeling completely overwhelmed happens all of the time. People are promoted because they are good at what they do, many forget that a manager’s role requires a completely different skill set to that of an individual contributor.

What would you have done differently in your first time manager role?  Or if you haven’t been a manager yet, but looking to become one, what is your greatest concern about being a first time manager?

Sarah-Jane Kenny – EMEA Channel Solutions Consultant at the Ken Blanchard Companies

A Happier and Healthier You

I am going to be open and honest – I don’t like New Year’s resolutions!

I do have goals each year, but I don’t get to January 1 and think up resolutions; there’s so much evidence they don’t work.

Forbes posted an article which drew upon the University of Scranton’s research which states that just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions. I have seen many articles listing an under 10% resolutions success rate. So why do so many of us make them?

Healthy Changes

I made a decision last year that in order to be more effective at work I needed to have a greater focus on my wellbeing which meant investing in my health, energy and productivity.

For too long I had been on the treadmill of sugary foods and caffeine hits to get me through the day. Rather than make me more efficient this sent me on a rollercoaster of insulin highs and lows.

I didn’t start this at the beginning of the year only to give up after 2 weeks – I happened to start mid-year and read up on nutrition, exercise, and mind and body health. I then went about making small changes I could sustain and I am happy to report after about 6 months I have a lifestyle I can maintain and I am feeling so much better for it.

I am sure there are a lot of us out there that feel a career and family mean we have to opt for convenience. This just isn’t true.

What I Have Learnt

  • We are capable of so much more – There’s a great feeling when you are in control. You know what you are putting into your body and, through mental and physical exertion, what your body is capable of.
  • Don’t do ‘low fat’ – We are sold a lot of ‘food myths’ by retailers and manufacturers – ‘low fat’ regularly means high sugar and salt which retain body fat and make us feel bloated and sluggish.
  • Treat yourself to nature – A ‘treat’ should not be something sugary, a ‘treat’ should be a nourishing meal of natural foods that leave you feeling great and with the energy to be productive. Think about how eating that packet of crisps at 3pm really makes you feel.
  • Take a break – So many of us eat while working. It actually aids digestion and makes us more productive to take a break.
  • Brain Fuel – Water and exercise feed the brain. Staying hydrated helps our attention span (and it reduces ageing signs like wrinkles!!), as does stepping outside for fresh air and a little bit of sunshine (increasing our vitamin D levels).

Livestrong’s article ‘How Does Exercise Improve Work Productivity’ explains why exercise is so crucial for work performance,

‘When you exercise, you are also increasing blood flow to the brain, which can help sharpen your awareness and make you more ready to tackle your next big project. Exercise can also give you more energy. Having more energy means you will feel more awake at work. Being on top of your game will assure that you perform your work correctly and to the best of your ability.’

Being healthy not only gives you a longer life to enjoy, but also improves brain function and makes us better at our jobs.

Give Your Routine a Healthy Overhaul

  • Prepare for your week in advance – I see so many of my colleagues buying pre-made lunches and breakfasts. There is a rainbow of vegetables and fruit out there that come without labels and the term ‘low fat’. A carrot does not need to say low in salt/sugar! I lead a busy life, but make the time for shopping for fresh produce and planning meals in advance. Believe me, you will feel the benefit.
  • Make time for food – I find it hard to eat away from my desk, but I do try to focus more on when and what I am eating; the taste, the smell and how the food makes me feel. So many of us suffer with poor digestion, make the time to chew food and give your stomach a chance to digest. Cooking can also be a family affair, get your spouse and children involved and make meal preparation fun.
  • Get some fresh air and/or move – I always feel more alive and productive after a run. This isn’t for everyone, but it’s important that we all ‘move’ for good health and wellbeing. Studies have shown that exercise can improve mental health, so pick a gym class you enjoy, a walk outside with friends or any activity that makes you feel alive. The key thing is to enjoy the movement and reap its rewards.
  • Ditch the labels – Try buying from the first couple of aisle of the supermarket. I see so many people with trolleys full of branded products, with barcodes and terms like ‘fat free’ or ‘low sugar’. See if you can make a meal with no barcodes, as the nutritionist Amelia Freer says don’t buy products with ‘tricks and promises to seduce you’.

Commit To Sustaining The Change

The key thing is to sustain whatever change you make.

To be a ‘healthier and happier you’ may take only one of these changes, keep these small and manageable.

A working mum or dad? Why prepare not commit to preparing your meals on a Sunday. Always rushing between meetings? Make a lunch that can be easily eaten and is easily digestible.

The most important thing is to look after yourself, no-one is going to do it for you and you will not believe the difference to your work day and home life if you just pay a little more attention to your own health and happiness.

Here’s some links for inspiration:

Madeleine Shaw’s top tips for fighting fatigue

Deliciously Ella’s advice for anyone who feels they can’t cook

Calgary Avansino’s blog – sharing a whole host of wellbeing guru’s secrets

I wish you all the best for 2016!

“Don’t get too worried if you have to stop and walk…”

I had a message this morning from an old university house mate. She’s just agreed to sign up for a marathon, with wine. It’s the Marathon du Médoc, in France, if anyone else is insane enough to run 26.2 miles with 23 wine stops. She knew I’d run a marathon before, and she wanted my advice on the training program – for the running, not the wine drinking.

Whilst I am a runner, I have very limited technical knowledge – but what I do have is the experience of training for a marathon, and the frustration of going out on a training run and not achieving what it was I set out to do. I’ve had training runs as short as three miles where I’ve had to walk at least two. I’ve given up and cut runs short. I’ve cried. I’ve fallen over (a lot!). However, each time something goes a little bit wrong, I’ll be annoyed with myself for a little while, and then I’ll vow to do better next time.

With this in mind, the best advice I could give her was not to worry if she has to stop and walk for a bit.

This made me think about whether I could apply this logic to anything else. Any of my other goals; whether they’re personal or work orientated.

I thought about my New Year’s Resolutions. I made a list at the end of 2014 of 12 things I wanted to achieve in 12 months, and I stuck the list on my pin-board at home. Buy a new car. Pay off my credit card. Travel abroad. Learn sign language. Solve world hunger. It’s now October, and I’ve probably achieved three things out of those 12. I threw the list away months ago, realising that 2015 probably wasn’t “my year”, and decided 2016 would be better.

I’m not disappointed with myself. Refresh Leadership reminds me that only 8% of people who make resolutions actually achieve them. I’ll try again for the things I want to achieve another time. I remember that it’s ok not to achieve everything I set out to do.

We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t fail occasionally.

This made me start thinking about two things. Why I failed and what to do next?

I realised I hadn’t met my own goals because I hadn’t set myself SMART goals. The concept of setting SMART Goals isn’t a new idea – it’s been in business for a long time, and there are a number of different versions of the acronym out there. Just Google “SMART Goals” and the top ten results all offer something different. I’ve opted for this version:

Specific What exactly do I want to achieve? What should the outcome be?
Motivating Will working on this goal ignite my passion?
Attainable Is it within my power to reach my goal? It can be a challenge, but not so difficult that it becomes de-motivating.
Relevant Is it meaningful to me? Will it make a difference?
Trackable When do I need to achieve this? How do I measure how well I am doing?

The resolutions I did achieve were the ones that I was passionate about; the ones that I could realistically achieve in 12 months; and the ones that had a clear end objective.

I need to work on setting myself SMART goals, if I actually want to achieve them.

This alone won’t help – sometimes, even setting SMART Goals, I won’t be able to achieve a goal. It might be that the goal is no longer relevant to me – in which case I could try modifying the goal to meet my needs – but it might just be that, despite my best efforts things didn’t go as planned.

In this situation, I need to remember not to be so hard on myself. People are their own worst critic – one of the hardest parts of failing to achieve is that inner monologue – and people will put themselves down, devalue themselves, and become disillusioned.

Obstacles to achieving our goals are inevitable – but it’s not what happens to us that’s important. It’s how we respond.

Sam Thomas Davies writes about how to move on when a goal is missed – and points out that the goal is the outcome you want to achieve at the end point, and people focus on this more than the passion and enjoyment of trying to achieve it in the first place. I’m reminded of a song by Miley Cyrus called “The Climb”, where she sings about it not mattering whether she gets to the top of the mountain or not, it’s all about the journey she’s taking to get there.

It’s important to remember that, even if it’s taking you longer than you expect to get to where you want to be, you should take the time to appreciate any progress – no matter how small that might be – and remember to congratulate yourself for what you have achieved.

Take the time to make your goals SMART, and give yourself the best chance of achieving them. Keep a flexible approach. And, when obstacles come your way, remember that it doesn’t matter if things take you longer than expected.

It’s ok to stop and to walk occasionally, and enjoy the view from where you are right now.

Top 3 Reasons Why Being a Great Leader Isn’t Easy

A few months back, I asked a group of leaders for a show of hands on who had experienced either oversupervision or undersupervision. Almost every hand went up. But then I asked how many had themselves oversupervised or undersupervised their direct reports. Only one or two hands shyly peeked out from the crowd.

So what’s going on? Well, leaders can sometimes be unaware of what they should and should not be doing. And this lack of awareness separates good leaders from great leaders. Great leaders know that leading is a never-ending journey that can be filled with treacherous obstacles.

So what do you need to know to become a great leader?
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