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Archive for the ‘goals’ Category

The Cat Ate My Blog

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on October 5, 2011

It has been a seriously long time since I blogged.  I was thinking it was two years but then I checked and it’s even worse than that.  I’ve actually been feeling guilty about it for probably two years….and Meg’s nudges never seem to work either.

So first, I was just super busy.  Fair enough, right?

Then, I was “regular-busy”, no excuse.  But the stuff I was working on was ….um…how do I say it….super frustrating.  You know, TPS reports and stuff like that.  Nothing I wanted to blog about unless I wanted to rant which, wouldn’t reflect well on anyone. I hope I am not bursting your bubble.  Did you think that we are all happy faces and sunshine over here all the time?  If so you are talking to too many people from product strategy. You’d actually be surprised at how many TPS reports go into making the awesome software that we make…just ask the product managers.

Right, so, even when I wanted to blog, I was basically too crabby to do it.

Meg tried to throw some nuggets out.  I would ignore them and then feel guilty.  And here is the interesting part (I should try to put the interesting parts closer to the beginning…and I should probably try to have more of them).  Anyway – back when I was blogging, I made it a “goal” to blog.  So I did it.  I am really all about crossing things off the list.  But then it slipped off my goals, for lack of me or anyone else really caring.  So I stopped doing it.  I guess this could be a blog about “make it a goal and it will get done” but that’s too obvious.

Now, once a year has passed and you stop blogging, it’s hard to start again.  This is pretty much like exercising, however, I actually do exercise 5-6 days a week and have done so for that past ten years.  I track it on a spreadsheet.  I hate when one of my boxes on my spreadsheet is empty. I sometimes cheat by putting things like “walking around on vacation” in the box and calling it exercising.  But if I ever had more than two empty boxes in a row, I fear it would be too easy to just stop exercising forever, so I make sure I don’t have two empty boxes.  Unless I’m sick – then I get to put a little Excel-comment in the box explaining my illness.  So you can see how once I had so many days-without-blogging in a row that it just trailed into forever.

The point of this blog is just to START again.

As a side note I’m now slightly annoyed at having to relearn how to insert this really cute picture of my cat that I want to use. I also had a minor freak out moment when I saved a draft and did a preview and what I saw on the screen made it look like the thing had posted to the blog.  I actually went to my other laptop to convince myself it hadn’t really posted.  See, if I would do this more regularly I would be better at it.  This has taken me about an hour to write and that’s just wrong for a blog.  I need to be faster so it’s less painful and I can do it more often.

And now….I’m going to go make a spreadsheet to track my blogging.

Posted in goals, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Promoting and Poisoning Change

Posted by Ken Klaus on February 6, 2011

And now, at last, we come to the final post in this series.  Thanks for sticking with me.  We’ve already covered the necessity of choice as well as the catalysts and essential elements that ignite and fuel the transformation process.  Previously we also noted that there were agents that amplify and weaken the transformation process.  These agents are called promoters and poisons; and what is true in chemistry is also true in our personal and vocational lives.  There are attitudes, ideas, and people that can strengthen and support our efforts or can resist, even spoil our endeavors.  Though these agents will differ depending on our objectives and personal circumstances, I do think there are some that will always be present.

Let’s start with the agents that poison the transformation process.  Chief among them, I think, is cynicism.  A cynic is distrustful of someone else’s ideas or motives; but cynicism does not necessarily need to be directed outwardly, toward others; it can also be aimed inwardly, at our own thoughts and intentions.  Now questioning our ideas and motives is certainly a part of the decision making process; but cynicism is not the same as honest reflection.  Cynicism becomes an end in itself.  It is designed to obstruct and incapacitate.  A cynic, including our own inner pessimist, is only concerned with why something cannot be done, and does care to offer ideas on how to reach our goal. Cynicism is static.  It stands still, frozen in time, incapable of action.  Whereas idealism moves us forward.  It chooses to act and embraces change.

Another agent that is toxic to change is perfectionism.  Perfectionism poisons our efforts in two ways.  The first sounds something like this: “You’ll never get everything sorted out the way you want it, so why bother trying.”  There’s a truth hidden in this lie that makes it hard to dispute, which is why we so often accept it at face value.  The truth being that we will never get everything sorted out.  Life is complicated and messy and there are too many components to account for all the possibilities; but the lie comes in the assertion that we shouldn’t try.  Human history has shown that progress is dependent on the attempt, even if that effort ends in failure the first, second, tenth or hundredth time.  Success is built on failure.  If we don’t try we can’t fail. If we don’t fail we will never succeed.

The other way perfectionism poisons our efforts sounds something like this: “You’re doing it all wrong?”  Second-guessing every decision, critiquing every step you make, brooding over the other choices, the ones you “should” have made, becomes a drag, a literal weight, on the transformation process.  We lose momentum and, more importantly, we lose focus.  We spend our time drifting among the “what-ifs” and the path forward turns into a maze of endless possibilities.  A choice is a choice and once we make it we need to move forward, whether it leads to failure or to success.  When we choose to move to a new location, then we must leave our old homes behind.  When we choose to start a new career, then we must leave our old jobs behind.  When we choose to follow our own dreams, then we must give up the dreams that others have for us.   In the end we can either risk a change, and move forward with our lives, or we can play it safe and remain where we are; but if we choose the latter then we surrender all hope of ever finding any real meaning or purpose in life.

Which brings us finally to the agents, which facilitate, enhance and strengthen our efforts to change and perhaps also those things, which give meaning and purpose to our lives: optimism and connectionOptimism is so much more than “positive-thinking.”  Optimism is rooted in honesty and action.  We cannot simply hope that things will work out for the best; we must act and we must do so honestly.  When we fail – and we will – we must choose to persist, to move forward, and not simply fall back into the old routines.  We pause, re-evaluate, and adjust our course; driven not by perfectionism, but from an honest awareness that our first instinct may not always be the right way to go.  We all have a blindside when it comes to making decisions because we tend to overvalue our intuition.  We trust our gut more than is reasonable or rational.  Dan Ariely proves this point over and over again in his books Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality.  In the decision making process we are rarely (if ever) rational.  This means we need others to help broaden our viewpoint, to challenge our assumptions, and to support our choices.  Not cynics, but honest, invested, objective individuals who can help inform our decisions without undue influence or hidden motives.

Here is where connection becomes an essential agent in helping to promote and sustain meaningful change.  Having others – friends, family, and colleagues – who can offer honest, objective insight is critical.  Our natural – meaning irrational – decision making process is nearly impossible to overcome, even when we know we are being unreasonable.  We have only to look at our histories, the patterns in our lives that repeat over and over again to see this is true.  Though the final decision must be ours, having others in our lives who are willing to debate, disagree, and suggest other possibilities seriously ups our chances for success.  In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Dr. Brene Brown makes this point clear.

Connection [is] the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.  One of the greatest barriers to connection is the cultural importance we place on “going it alone.”  Somehow we’ve come to equate success with not needing anyone.  Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we’re very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves.  It’s as if we’ve divided the world into “those who offer help” and “those who need help.”  The truth is we are both.

Change – meaningful, sustained transformation – will likely prove to be the hardest and the most rewarding venture we can embark upon; and reclaiming our lives and our vocations and our dreams may require a significant and fundamental transformation in how we think about ourselves and our place and purpose in this world.  But the risk, by comparison, is small.  Because if our lives and vocations and dreams are not already our own, then what can we loose by choosing to leave them behind in search of a more authentic and meaningful life?

Posted in change, failure, goals | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Elements of Change

Posted by Ken Klaus on January 30, 2011

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve looked at the catalysts for change as well as the role choice plays in igniting the transformation process.  And though our failures often inspire us to make a change, motivation alone will not be enough to nurture and sustain our goal over the long-term.  Transformation requires more than just the spark of inspiration, it needs fuel, and this energy source must come from within.  No external source – whether family, friends, or institutions – will ever be strong enough, will ever last long enough, to see us through to the end.  This elemental fuel comes from within and when it is purposefully applied leads us from good intentions to meaningful actions.  These elements are courage, risk, and honesty.

Courage is almost always understood in the context of fear, and whereas courage is understood as a virtue, fear is usually regarded as a weakness.  Courage, however, is not the absence of fear and without fear courage has no value.  A. C. Grayling makes this point in his book, Meditations for the Humanist: Ethics for a Secular Age.  “Moreover, courage can only be felt by those who are afraid.  If a man is truly fearless as he leaps over the enemy parapet or hurls himself into a rugby tackle, he is not courageous.  Because most people fail to recognize this simple fact, the true quantum of heroism in the world goes unrecognised and therefore unrewarded.  The quaking public speaker, the trembling amateur actor, the nervous hospital patient submitting himself to needles and scalpels, are all manifesting courage.  ‘This is courage in a man,’ Eurpides further said, ‘to bear what heaven sends.’  Actually he said ‘to bear unflinchingly’, but by this addition he spoils the sentiment, because if courage requires fear, then flinching is perfectly in order.”

Fear, I think, is a gift and like failure it is often a great motivator.  But motivation is not enough.  We have to act and acting requires courage.  Most of us fear change; but if lasting, meaningful transformation is our goal then we must stand our ground.  We must courageously – not fearlessly – face each new day.  We must act in spite of our fear and not make the mistake of waiting until we are unafraid.

Closely allied to courage is risk.  Risk is frequently associated with chance or with what we cannot see or anticipate; and I think the underlying emotion tied to risk is vulnerability.  Vulnerability, like fear, is often seen as a weakness.  It is something we work very hard to hide from others.  A thousand years ago this was part of our survival instinct.  Living behind walls of stone was far safer than dwelling in a thatched cottage in the middle of a wheat field.  But there’s also a positive, even necessary, side to vulnerability, which I only just discovered this past week while browsing through the presentations on TED.com.  Quite accidently I stumbled upon an inspiring and deeply insightful presentation by Brene Brown on The Power of Vulnerability.  If you have the time I encourage you to listen to this presentation.  In fact, if you’re short on time, I suggest you stop reading right here and just head over to TED.com.  The central idea in Dr. Brown’s presentation is that without vulnerability we cannot be whole, we cannot feel connected, we cannot ever fully be ourselves, and I would add, we cannot really change.  Here again failure presents us with an opportunity – not for shame, which is far too often the case – but an opportunity to be open, to be vulnerable, to risk taking a different path.  But if we shun this feeling, if we reject openness, connection, compassion and courage, then the opportunity for change will be lost.  We will remain stuck in the routines and patterns that lead us back again and again to the same failures.  Courage, then, is not only a friend to the fearful, but also to all those who would embrace vulnerability and risk change.  But courage alone will not be enough.

Vulnerability also requires honesty.  Self-awareness is the key to our ability to be honest, both with ourselves and with others.  What we do not know about ourselves we cannot possibly hope to change.  In the first act of Hamlet, as Laertes was setting off for France, his father Polonius enjoins him, “This above all: To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou cans’t not be false to any man.”  But from the day we are born we are taught the very opposite of this truism: Follow the rules.  Be like everyone else.  Don’t be different.  Go along to get along.  And sadly we do, without even realizing it, until we no longer know who we are or what we want.  And we spend our lives chasing only the shadow of our dreams because we have come to believe that our real dreams are too ambitions, to unconventional, too silly, too impractical, too whatever.  But coming to truly understand who we are, and what we want, and why both of these things are important, opens us to the possibility for real change.  James Hollis makes the following observation in his book Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up.

Some of us, understandably, do not wish to hear even this message of hope and personal growth.  We wish to have our old world, our former assumptions and stratagems reinstituted as quickly as possible.  Most of us live our lives backing into our future, making the choices of each new moment from the data and agenda of the old – and then we wonder why repetitive patterns turn up in our lives.  Our dilemma was best described in the nineteenth century by the Danish theologian Søren Kierkegaard when he noted in his journal the paradox that life must be remembered backward but lived forward.  Is it not self-deluding, then, to keep doing the same thing but expecting different results?

For those willing to stand in the heat of this transformational fire, the second half of life provides a shot at getting themselves back again.  They might still fondly gaze at the old world, but they risk engaging a larger world, one more complex, less safe, more challenging, the one that is already irresistibly hurtling toward them.

Paradoxically, this summons asks us to begin taking ourselves more seriously than ever before, but in a different way than before.  Such self-examination cannot proceed without, for instance, more honesty than we have been capable of.  Living within a constricted view of our journey, and identifying with old defensive strategies, we unwittingly become the enemies of our own growth, our own largeness of soul, through our repetitive history-bound choices.

Change – genuine, meaningful transformation – is hard and often requires heroic effort, which is why the virtues so often associated with heroes include courage, risk, and honesty.  Fear and failure may prove to be the motivation behind our efforts to change, but without these other essential elements we cannot hope to maintain the commitment – the fire – required over the days, weeks, months or years it may take to reach our goals.  Be courageous and stand your ground; choose risk over comfort – embrace vulnerability; and be faithful to yourself and to your dreams.  These are the elements that will sustain and nurture your transformation.

Posted in failure, fear, goals, risk | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Did you build a Personal Brand to advance your career goals ?

Posted by Ravi Banda on September 14, 2010

Going to school on a Sunday morning didn’t sound like a good plan but the seminar on “Personal Branding” as part of Leadership Development series at UC Berkeley was very intriguing so I finally decided to go. I wasn’t disappointed as the speaker William Arruda gave a bunch of good tips on building a personal brand and using it to achieve our career goals.

Recently, the topic of “personal branding” is inviting lot of debate as some are taking a fanatical approach to it and on the other side we have people completely discounting it as another fad. I believe that there is a middle ground that we need to work towards and when rightly used – our personal brand can help us grow in our career as well as open up new opportunities.

I wanted to share the tips (again credit to William) that I gained from this seminar.

Stand out

    Peer comparison is something that cannot be avoided in an organization and as we grow up further in our career the competition gets intense so it’s important to distinguish ourselves and show or bring that additional value to our organization. I can give few examples that I am following in my work activity – “proactive in communication rather than reactive”, “build networks outside the organization and leverage the network to get things done“, “speak up more”, “contribute to strategic goals rather than just being in an project execution role”. You need to take a close look at the things that you can do to provide additional value to the organization and then work on it.

    Be your own boss

    This is taking your career management into your own hands as Meg said in “Are you fully utilizing your potential?”

    Forget the ladder

    We see the career progression as a ladder where we move up one step at a time and at the moment of taking the next step we get into a frenzy of activity like activating our professional network, brushing up our resume / skills and pulling in recommendations etc. Once we move up to the next step – we kind of settle into ease till we start the process all over again.

    So, instead of treating the career progression as a ladder, let’s look it as a “ramp” – so that we are continuously engaged in activities that are geared towards our career progression. The projects we are involved in, the new connections we build – let’s look at them as helping us to move forward in our career and at the same time let’s not forget – we also have to “GIVE” back to our network and help our network achieve their own career goals as well.

    Build your brand

    This is a 3-step process – Extract, Express and Exude.

    1) Extract – this step involves looking at your career goals, values, passions and see if we can align them. We can use Strengths Finder test to know our strengths and then do a 360 Feedback to really know the kind of image we are projecting and whether they are matching with our strengths. If they don’t match – we need to work on addressing them.

    2) Express – Evaluate our communication skills and focus on the strengths as well as areas of improvement and communicate them to the people that we interact with. Key thing is that when we are expressing our strengths / values, they  should be CLEAR, CONSISTENT and CONSTANT

    3) Exude – this involves creating an environment which represents our brand and this can be your communication, actions, one’s appearance, online profiles, blogs, newsletters and even simple stationary items.

    I have definitely started to take the steps towards building my brand and use it for achieving my career goals and blogging is definitely one part of the plan 🙂

    I will appreciate if you have anything to share on how you are building your personal brand and how that’s contributing to your career !!

    Posted in Career Development, goals | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

    Try bagging spuds to increase employee engagement

    Posted by Louise Barnfield on February 20, 2010

    For me, one of the most meaningful and satisfying goals that Meg sets her team each year is that of Community Service.

    As a team, we’ve participated in a number of local events each year, helping at various food banks, and local shelter housing projects. I am always blown away by how much we can achieve in a very short time when we work together as a team.

    This week we returned to Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB), this time bagging spuds! Working together for just a couple of hours, we bagged 14,000lbs of potatoes, the equivalent of 11,000 meals’-worth. That felt pretty good…until we realized that through their various programs, ACCFB now distribute enough food for 300,000 meals weekly. This put our contribution in perspective, and showed us how much the community needs help from groups such as ours, in order to meet the demand – a demand that has almost doubled in the past 18 months as a direct result of the current economic climate.

    This week’s event had an added bonus, since a number of colleagues were visiting HQ, some for the first time, from a variety of states and countries. With such a dispersed global team, we rarely have the opportunity to meet in person, and particularly to get to know new faces as our team grows. Several mentioned how much they appreciated participating in this event during their visit.

    Many of us had been cooped up in a conference room for three very full days, and were feeling the effects of brain-overload. So, a complete diversion for a couple of hours, performing a manual task, conversing with friends and colleagues while at the same time doing something meaningful and helpful for others, did us all a power of good.

    After each event, we gather somewhere locally for a ‘happy hour’ – another chance to chat with colleagues, and also to acknowledge our gratitude for our own more fortunate circumstances. The camaraderie that this instills benefits the whole organization, as the team spirit that it fosters spills over into our day-to-day collaboration at work.

    I feel fortunate that Meg recognizes the value of giving our time and effort for the good of the community, and the beneficial effect it has on our team. Earlier this year, she blogged about her experience with colleagues as guests on Compassionate HR Blog Radio, discussing the various volunteer projects we have taken on in the past year, and in particular how we have been supported by Oracle to do so.

    As they pointed out, the volunteering projects that we undertake are as much a benefit to us as individuals, and to our organization, as they are to the community. It is true that we have the satisfaction of accomplishing something meaningful together as a team, which increases employee engagement and encourages closer working relationships.

    So, instead of trudging into the office in ‘Friday mode’, brain-dead from a week of meetings, I spent today catching up on tasks with more enthusiasm and with a far lighter frame-of-mind, thanks to our rewarding team ‘down-time’.

    A big shout-out to two other TalentedApps contributors, Vivian and Keshav – I am so thankful that you guys never tire of organizing our crowd for these events! 🙂

    Photo: Anupma Sud

    Posted in collaboration, engagement, goals, teams, Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    Overcoming My Fear of Failure

    Posted by Vivian Wong on January 20, 2010

    Fear of failure has always been a part of my life. 2009 Q2 018

    I was eleven years old when I first moved to Australia. By the time I finally allowed myself to speak English, I was almost twelve.

    I remember mumbling “How do you do?” to our neighbor Harry one day and he was completely taken back. You see, Harry was teaching us English for over six months and had never heard me speak. (I used to mime so no one could hear how horrible my  pronunciations were.)

    Growing up in a family of over-achievers, I set my own expectations so high that I was always truly petrified of failing. When I faced with a challenge, I can successfully talk myself out of it by asking: “What if I am not good enough?”

    The worst case scenario is not to even give it your best shot. I have learned to set the right level of MY expectations while I was studying Computing Science: I excelled at subjects like “Project Management” and “Simulation and Modeling”; I was mediocre at Financial Accounting but I was at peace with myself. I realized that it is OK to be average on “some” things. I didn’t want to be an accountant anyway.

    The key to overcoming fears for me is to give myself the PERMISSION to do it. (The fear may not go away, but I am not going to let it take control.)

    In 2010, I am totally ditching the “What if I am not good enough?” question. After all, there ARE upsides to failures in life.

    I am going to focus my energy on becoming a prolific blogger. The fear of writing a blog that suck may not go away, but I am going to stop playing safe and give myself permission to just write, even if some of them will be  bad ones. (Tip: if you get bored with my blogs, you can easily navigate to my favorite bloggers such as MegMark, Amy, Dan, Jason and many more listed on our blogroll.)

    It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. – Theodore Roosevelt

    May you be blessed with the strength to succeed!

    Posted in goals, learning, personal, risk, Uncategorized | Tagged: | 9 Comments »

    You Might Learn Something from a Pirate

    Posted by Alex Drexel on October 4, 2009

    BlackbeardAn article by Caleb Crain in the September 7th New Yorker provides a fascinating look into the business of being a pirate in the 17th century.  They were in some respects, quite forward thinking for their time when it came to keeping the crew aligned and motivated.  Most of us wouldn’t associate pay equity, performance based compensation and incentives, healthcare, democratic/bottom-up approaches to decision making, and racial tolerance with pirates, but research suggests otherwise.  Most of those practices came from the necessity of circumstances, rather than the existence of any higher ideals.

    Before anyone was accepted into the crew, they had to agree to articles that dictated how booty, power and responsibility were shared on the ship – it created an at-will association that provided order.  Crew members knew in advance of any activity exactly what share they would receive and any add-on incentives they would be awarded for specific accomplishments.  Furthermore, an attempt was made to balance the shares paid out to the internal worth of each job – this included pegging the share the Pirate CEO (lead captain) received relative to the average man on deck.

    For example, before the buccaneers, led by Captain Morgan, attacked Panama in 1670, it was agreed that Morgan would get 1/100 of the loot, while the rest would be divided in shares among the men.  Captains under Morgan got 8 shares, while each man got a single share. Those with specific skills received additional amounts; each participating surgeon got 200 pesos and any carpenters got an additional 100.  And there was incentive pay; anyone who captured a Spanish flag received 50 pesos, and the act of throwing a grenade into a fort got you 5 extra shiny pesos.  The agreement provided insurance against disability where the loss of an eye would yield 100 pesos and 1500 would be received in the unfortunate event of losing both legs!

    Risk taking behavior was further encouraged through a crude form of estate planning (called matelotage), where two pirates agreed to keep the loot of whoever died first and distribute a portion to the dead man’s friends and family.

    The system of paying out shares made every crew member an owner-operator which provided some alignment around the primary goal.  The democratic nature of decision making helped create buy-in and a sense of fairness among those who voluntarily served on the ship.  All decisions were voted on, including determining who would fill the role of captain.  The captain would have the authority to make executive decisions only in the heat of battle, otherwise, the crew members would have their say.  The captain could be deposed at any time by a vote, and was more or less seen as like any other crew member – the captain slept on deck with the rest of the men.

    So while no one would agree with their profession, you might start to wonder if your organization is run as well as a pirate ship.  Is it?

    Posted in Compensation, engagement, goals, leadership, management, teams | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

    Confessions of a performance review convert: no pain, no gain?…no longer!

    Posted by Louise Barnfield on August 27, 2009

    opportunity

    I’ve noticed that performance review meetings with my manager have evolved over the past couple of years, and my performance document looks very different too. It has become a living, breathing document over the course of the entire year, and, as a result it is more complete and more relevant, both as a history and as a roadmap.

    In the past, I admit I was prone to similar mistakes that Meg called out in an earlier post on performance reviews. Thanks Meg, I learned a lot from that post!

    Happily, over time, she and others have encouraged me to improve my own self-evaluation process, and this in turn has provided better input for my manager, enabling him to make more comprehensive and constructive comments himself. I spend more time on the process than I used to, because it matters to me more – and it matters to me more, because it’s very evident that it matters to our management team.

    Meg has strongly encouraged us to have more frequent reviews with our manager, to summarize progress on our goals, and adjust as necessary. On second thoughts, for ‘strongly encouraged’ read ‘mercilessly nagged’!! 🙂

    When I perceive the importance that’s placed on this process, then I’m willing to invest more in it myself.

    This has meant, for this past year in particular, that I’ve updated my performance document at quarterly intervals, which made the final summary far more manageable and more meaningful, as I could see my own progress over the entire year. Since I didn’t have to conjure up 52 weeks’ worth of information when faced with the end-of-year deadline, it also meant I spent that time more productively reflecting on the year’s events and on where I want to go in the future.

    In support of this frequent update process, a recent BusinessWeek article, The Trouble with Performance Reviews, states: “…reviews occur too infrequently to provide meaningful feedback.” Luckily for me, many of the negatives raised in the article no longer apply to my performance reviews: we do “make criteria more explicit and objective and have more people involved in the ratings process, so that one person’s perceptions and biases don’t matter so much”; we do “focus more on facts and evidence and less on benchmarking and unexamined conventional wisdom.”

    The annual task that I used to dread is no longer drudgery, it’s my opportunity.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s still not a breeze. I spent a long time thinking and working on this year’s self-evaluation, but it was a more satisfying process because I was able to focus my attention differently, and now that I see the positive outcome I certainly don’t feel the pain as I used to. So: less pain, more gain – gotta love that!

    For those of you who lack the benefit of your own Meg kicking you up the proverbial backside, I encourage you to do yourselves a favor: proactively keep frequent notes and write your own quarterly review – schedule it in your calendar and don’t (as I’ve been known to do) let it slide into obscurity in deference to seemingly(!) higher priorities.

    However, for those subjected to the same regular nagging that I am, be grateful that your managers encourage you to review your goals and keep them current. My management team recognizes the benefit of ensuring that team members are continually aligned to valid smart organizational goals, for the good of me as an individual as well as for the good of the team and the business.

    I’ve already updated my 2010 performance document twice in the past 2 months! Quite a change for the person who (like our Ken) was previously dragged, kicking and screaming, through the once dreaded annual process.

    Which are you, a diehard or a convert?

    Photo by Little Jeanne

    Posted in goals, management, performance, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

    Our Role As Leaders During Times Of Change

    Posted by Vivian Wong on August 18, 2009

    I recently attended a webinar titled “Remarkable Leaders Create Team Alignment” from the The Kevin Eikenberry Group. The seminar content resonated with me really well.

    ducks crossing after the storm

    I especially liked what Kevin said about our role as leaders during times of change:

    Leaders need to focus the team on something positive, uplifting and productive. We don’t deny feelings of past staff cut, it’s our job to have a dialogue with people so they know we do understand them, use them as a jumping off point to get to the goal, re-energize them to give them something to focus on.”

    One attendee asked: “How do you keep people calm in the midst of economic crisis?”

    Kevin’s response was spot on: “Keeping people focused on the goal is key. We need to re-focus people on the organizational goal to help the organization be more successful and thus improve their chance of keeping their jobs.  The ONLY thing in one’s personal control is to do a great job.

    Don’t you find it much more energizing to focus on goals rather than the alligators at your feet?

    Working with “what is IN our control” rather than getting paralyzed by “what is OUT of our control” just makes perfect sense to me.

    How do you navigate and lead your teams through times of change?

    Posted in communication, goals, leadership, management, Uncategorized | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

    The silver lining, A RIF story

    Posted by Meg Bear on December 15, 2008

    silverlining Another addition of my apparent series entitled “tales of Meg’s wacky career in tech“.   This is the story of the first Reduction in Force (RIF) I got to see up close and personal.  The whole process of this RIF really changed me. 

    For my first job I worked for a small start-up ERP software company that was growing rapidly on the initial client/server wave.  This company was all the good things about a start-up, friendly people, shared vision, enthusiastic workforce, an excellent place to start a career.   We were always having trouble hiring enough people to meet the demand of our sales, I had seen nothing but growth in the three years I had been there.  And then one day things changed.  We hit a technology wall that slowed sales.  As an entry level employee, I had no idea that trouble was coming. 

    I found out about the RIF about a week before anyone else, as my [now] husband was responsible for helping to compile “the list”.  This was beyond awkward for me, since I knew some names but not all and most were my friends.  I also knew that the list was being made with very scarce information as to who knew what.  I was outraged.  I was horrified.  I was terrified.  I felt personally guilty wondering if I should just quit myself. 

    On the big day, as I found out the extent of the list, I considered the whole thing terribly unjust.  Living in a relatively small town I knew this was going to have huge impacts as people would have to move away to find comparable work.

    I am actually grateful to have had this RIF early in my career, as I learned so much as a result.  It took away my innocence, but it also caused me to wake up and realize how things work.  At the end of the day, I was employed to serve a function for the business, as long as the service I provided was seen as a value, I would continue to have a job.  If business conditions were to change such that they had to re-evaluate my value, they would not think twice to do that.   No one, no matter how great, is going to be worth sacrificing the company to keep.

    I learned that it was my responsibility to understand the business.  It is never enough to focus only on my own tasks, I needed to make sure that I was seen as someone adding value overall.    I had to take seriously where I fit in the organization and how my company was impacted by the larger economic factors at play.  Never again did I trust my entire career blindly on the business judgement of a senior leader.  I learned to chose my participation (and length of service) in companies, based upon the results of the business.

    In the end, I also found out something I would have never guessed at the time.  Every person who was let go landed on their feet.  They moved on, they got different jobs, the RIF became a story in their professional career but it did not define them

    Over the course of the next year, my professional network grew from a single company to hundreds of companies as all my former colleagues found new jobs.  I am not suggesting that a RIF doesn’t suck, it does.  But good things can result from them as well, especially if you use the experience as an opportunity for your own growth.

    Posted in Career Development, goals, management, personal | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »