Reaping what you sow
September is a lovely month. Somehow it combines new beginnings (we never forget the new school year!) with abundance and fruitfulness – the harvest that feeds us for the rest of the year. We may be a long way past school age, but you don’t need me to tell you that learning continues – in fact many would say that the pace increases as time goes on, as we need to constantly adapt to stay afloat as the world rapidly changes around us.
Where’s the harvest?
Sometimes I get frustrated that all my learning seems to be focused on using technology, when I would much rather be discovering new management thinking or psychology, or sharing good practice with other trainers and coaches. Of course, it is my responsibility to get the balance right for my own professional development, and one impacts on the other. I love that I can learn by listening to podcasts while gardening, pick the brains of colleagues round the globe via social media, and update my website myself. This for me, is part of the harvest.
Was last year’s crop a good one?
Most of us have PDR’s/appraisals at work that identify our training needs, but they don’t always reflect our innermost ambitions, focusing as they usually (and understandably) on our ability to do our current role. They vary enormously in quality too; even a good process can falter in the hands of a disinterested or distracted line manager. Assuming a PDR process will keep your development on track may be a tad optimistic. We need to be accountable to ourselves for our development, which requires us to have some understanding of our motivators and what we want out of life.
Think back through the last year. PDR’s aside, what did you harvest? How have you developed your skills or knowledge? Have you consciously changed your behaviour at all? Broken bad habits or successfully acquired good ones? .
- Were the results worth the effort the learning took?
- Did you choose how to grow, rather than being told?
- How has your harvest nourished your growth?
These are all good evaluation topics, a huge topic in it’s own right. In fact, I’m sorely tempted to rename ‘evaluation’ as ‘harvest’, it sounds less bureaucratic and more meaningful to me!
Being able to chart our progress is important to our wellbeing in many ways. It’s not about being able to give ourselves a pat on the back, but:
- Having a realistic understanding of our accomplishments – neither too modest or too exaggerated
- Self assurance and confidence in our ability to adapt, grow and take on new challenges
- Motivation – success breeds success
- Valuable information gained form looking back can help us choose our future direction
Helping others with the harvesting people skills
It’s often necessary during coaching sessions to help the coachee recognise their achievements. We often can’t see how far we have come yet with a few well chosen questions and some encouragement, it’s possible to note the landmarks of our journey and see the distance travelled.
I’m probably preaching to the converted here, but as well as doing this for yourself, could you give helpful nudge to a colleague? Think about the people around you. A year ago, were they behaving the same as they do now? Were they equally as competent at using IT systems? Just as confident with difficult customers? Needing the same amount of support? If you can see any way they have grown, be it skills, behaviour or knowledge, point it out to them. Helping them to recognise their achievements will not only reward them in the ways bulleted above, but will also give you the benefit of working with a better informed, happier colleague. If you know anything about employee engagement, you’ll know you will get better productivity from them too.
Don’t save it up for an appraisal, or just people you line manage. Look around, not just at your direct reports – fellow team members or even your boss might like it if you mention improvements and development. And if you make someone’s day, do leave a comment and let me know!
By Julie Cooper
Author of Face to Face in the Workplace
“If you deal with people you need this book” Buy your copy here