When Change Doesn’t Work – Cut Bait and Run!

Upon returning to work from maternity leave, Elizabeth was faced with a number of changes to the organization that had transpired in her absence. Her department underwent a major restructuring resulting in new management and significant changes to the scope of her work. Always up for a new challenge, Elizabeth hit the ground running and was initially optimistic about the recent transitions.

After a few months however, Elizabeth struggled with balancing work and motherhood, and as her new duties were no longer a source of passion and fulfillment for her, she found herself struggling to adapt to the direction her organization was going. Deciding to cut her losses and view this as an opportunity to focus on her family for the time being, Elizabeth made the decision to resign from her position.  

Fortunately for Elizabeth, her story had a positive outcome although she struggled with the change she was presented with. In so many instances of change in the workplace, we often try our very hardest to maintain an optimistic mindset when presented with a difficult situation. Sometimes, we can overcome the challenge and are able to learn and grow from the experience. Other times, we need to be able to recognize when it is time to take a step back, cut bait and run.

There are a few questions you must ask yourself with determining when we should keep trying, and when we should admit defeat. Have you adopted a positive mindset and approached the challenge with a willingness to succeed? Have you accepted that change is inevitable and attempted to use the situation as an opportunity for growth? Have you been successful in dealing with other transitions that you’ve been faced with, but just can’t seem to overcome this one? If the answer is yes to even one of these, it may be time to move on.

Even the most professionally successful of us don’t win every battle. We are all human and all have to take a step back and recognize that moving on from a situation that is unwinnable is not a sign of failure, rather an indication of professional maturity in understanding that the stress and negativity that some circumstances bring about are simply not worth our time and energy.

Proactive Planning and Prep

This month we have discussed the various ways we plan for the end of the year, including general tidying and organization, finishing up projects and year-end goals, and reviewing what went wrong if any goals have not reached fruition. With two months left in the year, as we tie up all of these lose ends and prepare to close the door on 2017, it is time to look ahead and plan for the start of the new year. What can we do now to ensure that 2018 begins in an efficient and productive manner?

  • Review Internal Policies and Procedures – Both HR and Management can participate in this annual evaluation of what policies are outdated and need a refresh, and what procedures need some tweaking to match the culture and processes of the organization. Review the last year and determine what worked and what didn’t, and plan to collaborate on how to effectively renew and implement these processes.
  • Review HR-Related Documents and Systems – Predominantly the role of HR, similarly to how you would review internal policies and procedures, take a look at forms and documents and HR systems (e.g. leave administration and tracking, EEO tracking and reporting, vacation scheduling, etc.) and see what tweaks can be made to ensure everything is working as seamlessly and proficiently as possibly, both for the employee and for HR and management on the back end.
  • Review Operational Functions – A task that generally requires the buy in from management and possibly from your employees (such as receiving feedback from a focus group), review operational functions and performance to determine what, if anything, needs to be modified to make certain your clients and customers receive the best service possible, and that everything runs smoothly behind the scenes.
  • Prepare for Goal Setting – As we complete our goals from the past year, take a look ahead and honestly think about what you want to accomplish in 2018. With a fresh start and a chance to work with a clean slate, be proactive in your goal setting preparation and being brainstorming your personal and professional objectives and what you need to do to get there.

Taking a preemptive approach will help you have a strong game plan in place for a successful and productive new year. Especially if there were some areas where you faltered in the past, taking a long hard look at what you can change to do better will help ensure that you work in the most effective and efficient manner possible, resulting in victories that will benefit both you and your organization.

What Went Wrong?

This season, wrapping up end of year goals has many professionals scrambling to tie up loose ends and finish projects before 2017 comes to a close. While we all hope to succeed both at an individual level and for the overall success for our organization, sometimes we simply can’t reach that light at the end of the tunnel. At the end of the day, when we fail to finish what we set out to accomplish, all we can do is brush ourselves off and try again.

An important first step in bouncing back when a goal is not met, is taking the time to understand the underlying issues as to why you didn’t reach the end result. There are various reasons why we fail to meet our goals, including: a lack of commitment to the objective, stagnation or inactivity, failing to effectively plan out steps towards reaching the goal, and failing to manage tasks and time.

When we understand the “why” behind what went wrong, we can move forward and take this setback as a teachable moment and an opportunity to learn and grow. Some of the deeper issues to the above reasons why goals may fail can be a lack of loyalty to the company, a lack of motivation, and an absence of a true destination or purpose.

While all of these problems are separate matters all together, as they pertain to goal setting and failing to reach a goal, it is all a matter of changing your approach. Failure is simply a way of telling us that something is wrong. View failure as a type of feedback, take a step back from the situation and review that feedback objectively, and clear your mind for a second attempt at the endeavor.

Be brutally honest with yourself when you’re reviewing what went wrong the first time around. If you were simply lazy when it came to doing the work, why were you not engaged? Are your actions enough to reach the end goal and if not, what do you need to do differently?

Finally, don’t be ashamed to ask for help and seek guidance. Part of learning and growing is to not be afraid of failure and to truly want to do better in the future. Reach out to your supervisor, your coach or mentor, or a coworker or colleague who you can talk with to obtain constructive advice and guidance as to what you can do differently to thrive.

Typing up Loose Ends

With two and a half months left in the year, many of us are scrambling to finish projects and complete goals. There are a few steps you can take to ensure that all of your objectives reach fruition so you have a clean slate for the new year, ready to start fresh and with motivation and a new outlook:

  • Write a Task List – Create a very specific to-do list of what larger goals you have yet to accomplish and what smaller tasks you need to complete to reach that end objective. Breaking up your larger goals into sub duties will make the overall assignment seem less daunting.
  • Establish a Timeline – Time management is key when you are on a deadline. Be specific with your task list and apply a timeline for each task to ensure you finish on time. Check items off as you complete them, aiding in a feeling of accomplishment and further motivation.
  • Ask for Help – Even those who are incredibly efficient with their time can use an extra hand when their to-do list gets lengthy. Ask for help if you are worried about completing any projects and be willing to offer the same assistance when your team members required the same.

Once this year comes to a close, it is time for a whole new season of goal planning to begin. Use this past year of successes and obstacles as an opportunity to reflect on what you intended to accomplish with your goals and where you actually ended up, and apply these experiences and reflections to your goal planning for the new year. Have your goals and desires changed in the past year? What do you need to modify in your work duties and training to reach any new objectives you may have?

There is still more than enough time left in 2017 to tie up any loose ends and wrap up goals that have yet to be completed. With a clear outline of what needs done and when those tasks need to be completed by, you’ll stay motivated and engaged to reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

Spring is in the Air!

April is often one month out of the year that marks a fresh start. The dreary weather making way for sunshine is symbolic of the “out with the old, in with the new” mentality that can positively affect not only our personal lives, but our professional lives as well. Spring cleaning plans are being made at home, so why not apply this to your work as well?

Just as important as it is to shampoo the carpets and deep clean the kitchen at home, taking an annual (or even better yet, a quarterly) look at what needs some extra TLC at your office is essential in maintaining a workspace that is free of clutter, ensuring maximum productivity and efficiency. Engaging in workspace organization, both physically and electronically, helps you keep all your ducks in a row, providing a less chaotic way of managing your time.

Tidying up and organizing the physical mess is what we often think of when we hear the word “cleaning.” Sifting through and filing/shredding piles of paperwork, cleaning out desk drawers, wiping down work surfaces, and engaging in a general decluttering of your office space leads to a less stressful work environment, allowing you to think more clearly, leading to higher levels of productivity.

Electronic organization is just as important as cleaning up tangible clutter. If you don’t do this on a regular basis, start with your email account. An easy habit to fall into, we often let our inbox get larger and larger rather than sorting emails into their designated folders as they come in. By creating specified folders (either organized by subject, client/customer, or chronologically), you can move emails immediately after reading, and can even set emails from specific users to automatically be delivered to their assigned folder. Keeping this space organized makes it far easier to refer to information in old emails, saving you time and frustration.

Additionally, take a look at your document folders. Are they organized in a way that allows for the quick reference of data, both for yourself and (if folders are shared with other employees) your coworkers? Archive folders and documents that are no longer pertinent and delete documents that are duplicated or have no importance. Much like decluttering your physical area, organizing your e-files can improve performance and can save you time in the long run.

Take advantage of the spring cleaning mode many of us find ourselves in this time of year to “deep clean” your office and general workspace. The benefits of taking some time to engage in an annual, and then quarterly or ongoing, purge are countless and lead to a more productive and less stressful environment for you to work in.