Your target role now!

k22798699I am amazed at the number of people who wait to get promoted. A long time ago I was mentored in a key skill that was critical to my career growth.  “BE” you target role now.  This means assessing your target role and deeply thinking through how a person in that role behaves and thinks.

How to deeply think about the role

What are the accountabilities for that role?  What are the types of goals?  What are the reporting processes?  What are the language styles and expectations? What are the major role challenges? What are people in that role doing really well?  How does the peer group at the role level interact? There is a lot to think about and process or internalize.  Don’t rush this step.

What’s your take on it?

The next step is applying the role to you. If you had that role, what would you do differently? How can you map your current work to the goals and priorities of that role? What would you have to change about your work habits to be in that role? What skills would you need to brush up on or learn to be in that role? Do you really understand the accountabilities of that role?

Putting it together

The two foregoing paragraphs should give you lots to think about and work through. Sorting out your thoughts into actions / plans / training / changes will give you exactly what you need to start “being” your target role.  This process will change your thinking which should change your behaviour which should change how you are perceived.  The goal is to act and think like your target role.

How you win!

Your manager, or their peers, should begin to notice a change in you which will differentiate you from your peers.  That’s called rising to the top above your peers which will give you a promotion advantage.  I have always asked my team leader, manager, executive the following questions;

  1. What are your key performance objectives?
  2. How can I help you achieve them in my current role?
  3. How does my work effort align to the corporate objectives?
  4. What can I do to have a larger role in the key objectives of our team?

These are very different questions than the typical following questions;

  1. What do I need to do to get a promotion?
  2. What do I need to do to get a raise?
  3. I feel ready for more responsibility.

The first set of questions are the kind that will get you upward bound.  The second set of questions make you sound just like everyone else.  Choose to be different!

What do you think about this concept?  How can you begin to “be” your target role?

David Reimer

When “good enough” is OK!

good-enough-is-perfect

There appears to be a constant striving for perfection. The drive to take every project all the way to a vision or goal of perfect.  Why? Why spend all that time and effort to achieve the perfect result when good enough is in fact enough. In reality, the majority of high achievers know what effort is enough to achieve the right return, then they move on to the next task.

Are you getting diminishing returns on your work?

The right rate of return for your work is when the work effort yields a “good enough” result. Think of it this way; the last 10 – 20% of your effort costs more than the return on that effort.  Therefore you are now in the area of diminishing returns.  Conversely, 80 – 90% achievement provides an equitable return on your efforts.

You can do more for less!

Therefore, if you take all your work tasks or projects and develop “good enough” plans versus perfect plans you will likely be more productive.  You will have more time for your work load.  As you further consider the “good enough” concept you quickly come to the conclusion that you can rank all your work effort or projects by “return priorities”.

What is your work effort rate of return?

A key leadership thought process is “what is the financial rate of return” on any given effort.  The rate of return can be applied to all of your activities.  What is my rate of return on the time I take to chat around the coffee machine? What is my rate of return working out “the perfect” presentation by fiddling with numerous minor images or details? When you observe your staff, what rate of return are they providing you based on the myriad of decisions that they make every day?  A rate of return view of decision making will drive an outcome that is “good enough” based. Beware – a strict rate of return view will suck out the humanity of work and leadership.

Making it work

You need to determine what portion of your work, or your teams work, is high priority versus medium to low tasks.  Focus your energy on the key project.  But don’t get consumed with perfect.  Do a great job but don’t strive for perfection.  Take the time you have saved by avoiding “perfection” and apply it to lower priority tasks.

Caution sign ahead

As a leader you need to balance the principle of “good enough” against the host of other management tools.  As an example: on occasion I have had to take a developing staff member through the process of developing excellence in their work.  In that case I would request a higher deliverable level as a learning process so I would not use the “good enough” concept. So ponder the concept of “good enough” and put it into your leadership tool mix.

Does the “good enough” concept make sense to you?

David Reimer

Let your team members fail!

failure is the key to successAs leaders we are very, maybe too focused, on ensuring our team members are successful. We help them achieve their best. Training is focused on developing skills and enhancing performance.  But sometimes it is just best to let them fail.  Failure is the greatest teacher of all!

Failure is good

There is a time and a place when you need to let a team member fail.  The learning curve for them will be steep, and painful.  But when you walk them through it and provide a strong safety net, they will learn and be better for it. When would you do this?  If you have a team member who has never experienced failure they will not be equipped to manage the failure process.  They need to learn how to manage failure. Or, you have a team member who is demonstrating a deep sense of arrogance and they are causing broader team balance problems.

The best response to failure

I’m ok with failure from staff.  What is not ok is to not learn from failure. Developing talent requires that you think deeply about your team members.  Your job is to develop their skills, leverage their strengths, and manage their weaknesses.  Don’t be so focused on success that you don’t attend to their developmental needs. Sometimes that means letting them fail.

Park your pride!

One of the realities of staff is that they reflect your leadership. This often causes leaders to mistake pride for true leadership. Manage your upward leadership structure so you can be free to appropriately manage your staff.  That includes letting them fail and ensuring that your leader knows that this is a planned exercise. Protecting your staff’s integrity is far more important than your pride.

It’s about loyalty

Another reality of staff is that you must be loyal to your staff and defend them.  Even at the expense of your pride.  Your staff need to know that you will go to the wall for them… including letting them fail and fully supporting them in their failure!  They will walk over hot coals for you if you do! Loyalty is becoming a lost element of the work environment.  However it is one of the critical aspects of successful leaders. If you care enough to help your staff learn through failure their loyalty to you will increase. That’s a fact.

So let them fail

Think deeply about your team members.  If letting them fail will be helpful for their development then set it up and let it roll!  And while you’re at it, think about your failure experiences.  Learn from them.  But remember, this is just a part of your management tool kit.  You need to discern when and how to use it.

How can you use failure in your management process?

David Reimer

Getting and giving advice

business-adviceNone of us is an island.  Nor do any of us have all the answers.  It would be fair to say that we live in a world of collaboration which is an awesome thing.  Sharing ideas, challenging each other, taking the thread of an idea and watching it shift, change, and morph into some exciting it just plain fun.  It’s a sugar rush for the brain!

Dealing with challenges

Facing a career decision or some other major decision is a challenge for all of us.  Being able to seek out the counsel of others and hear their ideas and suggestions is invaluable.  We have likely all benefited from this kind of situation.

The problem

Here’s the problem as I see it.  Each of us is likely stuck in a generational bubble.  University students only seek the advice of other university students.  Young up and coming business people tend to only seek advice from their peers.  Managers striving for senior leadership roles often only seek the counsel of peers.

Cross pollination

This is too narrow an advice process.  I think it is critical that we cross pollenate generational thinking up and down the chain.  As a young man entering the business world my dad advised me to find three people who were in difference career roles, successful, who I respected, and to seek their counsel on any significant decisions.  One of the best pieces of business advice I have ever received!  I have used the model of three advisors for my entire life.

It’s about mix

Early on I sought the advice of people who were senior to me in role and age.  Over time I mixed it up by adding the advice of much younger people to keep me balanced in my perspective.  This has enabled me to make much better decisions.  I also sought the advice of peers but I purposed to keep it mixed up by adding generational advice.

Listening

You should work at developing professional relationships up and down the generational chain so that you get good balanced advice. As a younger person I learned to listen with patience to the advice of older people.  There is absolute relevance in their stories – you just have to listen for it.  Now, as an older person, I have learned to listen with patience to the advice of younger people.  There is absolute relevance in their stories – I just have to listen for it!

Core principles

I find that the best approach for getting value out of generational advice is to try and distill the conversation down to a principle or two.  What is the core principle of the advice being given to me?  I ask a lot of questions to ensure that I understand their perspective.

Today I have a rich group of people ranging from early 30’s to 80’s who are part of my advice pool.  They help me make better decisions.

How about you?  Who is in your advice pool?  Do you have a healthy generational mix?  If not, what can you do to improve it?

David Reimer

Role specific skills versus life skills

glance_business_skills-1140x420Most high performance up and coming leaders do not appear to truly understanding the difference between role specific skills and life skills.  This is an important conversation as it relates to your long term career goals.  So, let’s break this down.

Two skills buckets

You should evaluate and categorize your skills into two buckets.  Technical or role specific skills and life skills. Most people seem to be driven to develop role specific skills with the hope that they will lead to advancement.  Role specific skills do not make great leaders.  They make good managers. Department managers need to have good technical or work specific, or process specific skills.  Good managers are wonderful.  However, if you want to be a true business leader you need to think in terms of life skills.

Life skills

Life skills are skills that are transferable to any type of role – they are not role specific, they are ubiquitous.  They are the skills that you must acquire in order to be a formidable leader.  This includes things like peer management, upward / downward management, financial understanding, understanding and valuing process, return on investment calculations, cost / value analysis, personal brand, root cause analysis, and the list goes on and on.  Life skills are a set of business concepts that individually equip you to manage specific situations or challenges.  A full set of life skills will give you a depth of business acumen that will clearly separate you from the pack.

What to look for

Each of us is presented with numerous life skill learning opportunities every day.  It’s a matter of understanding what to look for and how to take advantage of the learning opportunities.  Once you start to think in terms of life skill learning you will be surprised at how you will look at your daily business activity in a different way.  This new perspective is the beginning of seeing with the eyes of a true leader.

An experience

I was working for a company that was failing and everyone was jumping ship.  As I considered my career choices it struck me that I could learn a lot by riding the business to the bottom.  Against the advice of my peers, and conventional wisdom, I decided to stay and see what happens.  It was a great decision. I learned a whole set of lesson from that experience.  I learned how not to run a business, how to manage stress and tension, how to manage terminations, how to manage vendors in crisis, how to communicate bad news, and so on.  My learning curve was unique and valuable as compared to everyone who bailed early.  I learned a set of life skills that shaped and influenced my thinking for the better.

It’s about choices

This experience has driven me to make career choices that enhance life skills learning.  The end result has been a depth of business acumen and relevance that is distinctive.  This is part of what makes good leaders.

What do you think?  What life skills are you learning?  If you are not learning them, what could you do differently to get into the game?

David Reimer