The need for more self-development demands new, different, and better ways to provide it and an on-going commitment to engage in self-development activities with focus and vigor.
As the workplace continues to evolve, so must you!
Whether you believe the workplace must continue to evolve quickly and in bold new ways in response to on-going pressure related to the pandemic or you think the pandemic is over, one thing is certain, what we’ve experienced over the past 2 plus years has changed the workplace (and life) in significant ways.
The evolving workplace has created pressure to develop newer skills like crisis management and leading the way forward, as well as an imperative for people at all levels and in all industries to understand and refine qualities of character such as resilience, gratitude, courage, empathy, trust, and compassion.
We believe what we’ve just gone through requires an on-going evolution in thinking about how work is accomplished. Equally important for those who coach and for others trying to increase their effectiveness and competence is the need to discover and explore new ways to develop “yourself” – ways that are both effective and easy to use.
While life (personal and business) was turned upside down with Covid’s onslaught, new workplace realities signal a time when each of us can start anew — with a “blank slate” so to speak. Think of it as an opportunity to build new habits and fresh ways to achieve success — and yes, new levels of happiness too — with a renewed appreciation for self-directed learning and development.
Dr. Katy Milkman a Wharton School professor and author of the 2021 book How to change: The Science of getting from where you are to where you want to be states “I think this fresh start is really a big opportunity . . . I don’t know when we’ll have another one like it. We have this blank slate to work on. Everything is on the table to start fresh.”
No matter how difficult the challenge, many found new ways to support themselves during very trying times. Some struggled more than others but many took the first steps to getting the support we all need.
Trial and error? Of course – there was lots of that but with effort and focus people found ways to help themselves, engage in self-directed learning, and provide help to others in need.
Even those who worked in highly structured environments where self-directed learning was once not considered essential chose initiative over apathy. When obstacles stood in their way a commitment to self-directed learning opened the door to effective work-arounds.
When colleagues called in distress they found time to help them discover a better way. Many found they had more flexibility and resiliency than first imagined – and more motivation to seek out help from sources they may not have previously considered. Being focused on self-directed learning wasn’t just a nice “concept” folks talked about — it had become a necessity.
What about you? Are you focused on more self-directed learning and self-coaching?
Think about what you just went through.
Did you have challenges, doubts, questions, concerns?
Were there times when you were uncertain, felt lost, wished you’d had a helping hand?
Did you engage in self-directed learning by exploring new development opportunities and resources?
Would it have helped to get some concrete direction, advice, thoughtful questions and resources already organized around needed areas of development or areas of character enrichment?
Would you have liked a resource based on in-depth workplace experience helping others overcome the same or similar obstacles you faced?
Here’s what’s important to know:
You can exponentially improve your ability to perform at work and demonstrate new levels of confidence, character development, and balance by taking the self-directed learning skills you’ve already begun to develop to the next level.
On demand coaching (like QwikCoach) supports this vital effort. It can be used to help yourself or others. It’s practical and powerful and provides more time for actual development and practice by eliminating the need for time-consuming searches. The internet was a dream realized when it began to offer suggestions. It now overwhelms people with too many resources. Curated on-demand coaching content is the new holy grail of self-development!
Here are two short examples of on-demand support we think will help you see how these types of resources can help you gain important insights and develop deeper skills.
You’re in a crisis and need to understand what’s happening so you can make informed decisions and resolve the situation as quickly as possible. Success hinges on understanding before taking action and the ability to listen is essential.
You must be able to listen to others and others must be able to listen to you!
Here’s some on-demand listening advice we think you’ll find helpful.
Take a moment to reflect on these questions. Let them guide your use of suggestions that follow.
- Have you ever thought that if people had listened, they could have saved themselves from a crisis or a bad decision? Is listening something you think others need to improve, but you have never worked on or attempted to improve?
- Who needs to listen more?—you, others, some people, or all people? How could you help not just you, but others deepen this skill?
- Remember a time where listening saved you from a huge mistake? Hold that thought. Use it for motivation to sharpen your listening.
Are there ways to get people to listen to you? Yes. The best one is to listen to them FIRST.
BeFore you start making your point (or points), give the other person – or the group – a chance to make his or hers by saying something like:
Before I tell you what I think about this, I’d like to understand your point of view first. Please explain it to me, so I can understand what you think about this issue. Once I have your thoughts, I’ll share mine.
Other techniques that work . . .
Be more organized.
Generally, people find it easier to listen to and understand information that is presented in an organized and logical way.
Be “audience focused.”
Telling others what they want to hear and need to know is a sure way to get – and keep – their attention.
Speak “to” your listeners – not “at” them.
Maintain good eye contact with your listeners as you speak to them. It’s the best way to stay tuned to their non-verbal responses – so you can continually adjust your tone, pace, content, or style to keep them interested and attentive.
People say I don’t listen well. What should I do?
People are probably right. Most of us listen very poorly, so you are not alone. But, if you want to do well professionally, you can learn to be a better listener, and you’ll be ahead of the game. How?
- First, pay attention to what the other person is saying by improving your ability to listen more deeply and significantly.
- Second, focus on what’s important, and not on who’s to blame or what you disagree with.
Next — try these two techniques.
- When you want to be a better listener, it also helps to rephrase and repeat people’s key points to show them you are listening and to ask people to “say more” about their point rather than making yours quickly before they even finish.
- Another way you can improve your listening is by letting others know you’re aware that you have trouble listening and asking them to help you by confirming that you understand their point.
Finally, here’s one more suggestion.
Empathic listening is something you might also want to try if you’re serious about wanting to improve the way you listen. Basically, it means trying to see the situation through the other person’s eyes. When you do that, you’re more likely to pick up on the speaker’s feelings as well as his or her words, and in that way, “hear” more
IMPORTANT POINT: Being an empathic listener doesn’t mean that you have to agree with the other person – or feel the same way he or she does. But it will make you less likely to overlook important elements of other people’s messages.
Here’s a few resources we think you’ll find helpful:
Your day begins and ends and important activities just don’t get done. You’re inclined to think you need to improve your ability to manage time but “managing time” seems like a “catch-all phrase” with little meaning. Maybe it’s not “time” that has to be “managed” after all.
Here are some insights about priority and time management we believe you’ll find useful.
Take a moment to reflect on these questions. Let them guide your use of suggestions that follow.
- Are you certain you know what is important to you—really important? What about in specific areas of your life—do you know your most important work priorities, family priorities, self-priorities? How could you find more time to think about these questions? What would happen if you did?
- Do you think and feel clear in your mind what if you were given a half-day to accomplish anything you need or want to—a new piece of time let’s call it—you would use that time wisely?
- Do you think you have a deep character that has only deepened through the last years of unsettling events? Or, have you spent little if any time on becoming a better person? Do you think developing more character or simply becoming a better person is a great use of your time?
Bottom LINE – Getting things doesn’t start with managing time but rather managing priorities. How are they connected? What’s the difference? Here goes:
Priority Management focuses sharply on establishing what’s important. Time Management focuses on allocating and managing time to accomplish what is determined to be important. Priority Management therefore provides the foundation for effective Time Management.
Priority Management helps people understand and clarify their priorities and goals and determine what’s really important at any point in time. The clear vision of what you want to accomplish that comes from Priority Management can help you to decide the best way to use your time in order to turn your vision into reality and accomplish your mission. What’s more, when you use your time in a way that is consistent with your priorities, you are also more likely to feel good about what you’ve accomplished.
Consider Your Values
In determining what’s important, Priority Management should include consideration of your values — including a determination of which values are most important to you at any given time in your life. What’s important can therefore be influenced through a deeper understanding of what you value during any stage or phase of your life.
Consider Your Roles
Another piece of Priority Management is understanding the affect that “roles” have on determining what’s important. We all play different roles — team member, group manager, volunteer, father, spouse, son, community activist, etc. — and each role may pull us in a different direction when it comes to determining what’s important. As a result, there are times when you simply have to focus on one role or “role-divide” your time when competing role-based commitments are of equal importance. Knowing when and how to do this is key.
Put It All Together . . .
There is a richness to modern life for those able to move beyond survival that defines in a very broad sense what it means to be leading a “full” life. It includes a variety of roles like parent, spouse, team leader, volunteer, as well as individual contributor. As mentioned earlier one’s values and goals connect with one’s roles. Nothing can beat the feeling of moving from being the hamster on a wheel or the exhausted person who is always “short of time,” to feeling like a person whose efforts are guided by one’s values, clear goals, and a deep appreciation for the range of roles always in play.
Thinking and acting this way works at every stage of life because it provides focus and clarity to what needs to be done (what’s important) and flags easily what is a waste of time (what’s not important). It dramatically helps to eliminate burnout or other stress related diseases and it provides a true sense of peace and stability in a world filled with anxiety and pressure. That’s the benefit that effective Priority Management delivers.
Time management on the other hand relates to planning, organizing, and scheduling one’s time each day, week, month or year. Applications/tools for these types of activities have proliferated and are sometimes hard to keep up with.
Doing the required thinking and planning that goes with setting priorities can help make the choice of which tools to use more objective and targeted when it comes to selecting just what is needed to meet your priorities effectively.
There are many long-time tested time management “rules” — like handle each piece of paper or email only once and always begin with the end in mind — that make managing time easier, but without a deep sense of one’s real priorities, time management tools, rules and/or apps will consistently fall short of expectations and in many cases reduce your ability to accomplish what’s really important.
Scheduling will keep your day full but no matter how well it is done it will not bring you any closer to accomplishing your goals and priorities if priority management is neglected.
Remember, if Time Management is the house, Priority Management is the foundation. Don’t build one without the other!
What are some of the things I can do to get started with Priority Management?
Start by thinking about who you are and what your values are. What’s important to you? What would you want people to say about you if you left the company or (perish the thought) died? What do you hope to achieve in your life? These types of questions get you thinking about who you are and what you want to do—about the “vision” you have for yourself. Your company has a vision, and you should have one, too.
Along with your overall – or long-term – vision, you may also want to think about some shorter-term visions or goals. For example:
Next, consider where you’d like to be at this time next year . . .
- In graduate school?
- In a relationship?
- Getting settled into a new job because you’ve been promoted?
- Able to handle more responsibilities in your job?
- Having more time off and more fun?
Answering these questions can help you to identify shorter-term priorities that are consistent with your overall vision.
Finally, look at what’s happening in your current workplace with respect to (1) Priority Management and (2) Time Management
By doing a bit of research in your own organization you may get some additional insights into the relative importance of priority management in your organization. It also might be useful to understand how you personally manage time so you can consider some improvement strategies.
With respect to Priority Management, ask and answer these questions about your work place:
- Do “important people” often talk about “the vision” and discuss how specific priorities are related to achieving the vision.
- Do these same people work to make sure people are focused on achieving priorities — even if it means other things don’t get done?
- Are important tasks scheduled and planned so that time and energy get focused on achieving them in the best ways?
- Do you sense that people know time is very valuable and consistently respect your time — and the time of others?
With respect to Time Management, try this:
- Keep a calendar for two weeks of all you do at home and at work.
- If it helps, use shorthand or symbols to represent key activities.
- After two weeks, look at what you’ve recorded and determine if what you were doing and how you were spending your time is consistent with your priorities and what is really important.
What you learn should provide valuable insights with respect to priority and time management. With these insights in mind, commit to learning even more about the subject and using this information to improve your abilities when it comes to Priority Management.
Here’s a Podcast we think you’ll find helpful:
Here’s another resource that might be of interest