I’m taking a break from the Career Wellness Series. Heck, I’m taking a break, period (really – I’m writing this in advance.) My kids are out on Spring Break this week, so I’m taking a Spring Break for a few days as well. Are you taking time off any time soon? If not, why not?
Every machine needs downtime, human machines especially. It would have been so easy for me to say “yes” to client meetings, conference calls and other requests for those few days. It’s harder to say “no”, at least in the short run. But in the long run, refreshment is vital to sustainable performance.
Don’t make excuses if you want to take time away. Just make it a priority, make a plan and set expectations with those who come calling. The world will not stop spinning without you, or me, for a few days. Then when we come back, we’ll be ready to rock again.
Have you completed any classroom, online or on-the-job training in the past 12 months?
Ch-ch-ch-chaaanges. Everything changes. Faster than ever it seems. Systems. Structures. Methods. Processes. Technology. If you aren’t keeping up, you’re falling behind. It’s that simple. Are you going to sit back and wait for your employer to require you to take classes, learn new skills, gain new certifications? What if they never do? Who loses in that equation? You do. When you find that your skills aren’t competitive in the job market, you’ll be playing catch-up. You could be at a disadvantage when seeking new opportunity, even within your own company.
What new work experiences have you had in the last 12 months?
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions but I do identify aspirations. This year, one of them was to be uncomfortable as often as possible. Seems weird, I know. Except that being uncomfortable almost always means doing something new. And when I do something new, I learn. I grow. I add to my toolkit.
If you can’t remember the last time you experienced something new in your work, you have stagnated. It’s time to raise your hand, take on that project, ask for that new stretch assignment. What can you do that’s new?
Here’s a touchy subject: have you ever had a complaint brought against you in the workplace? If you have, you’re not alone. I’ve known many leaders who were the object of complaints (a hazard my job when I was in HR).
The thing is, one complaint can actually be an indicator that you are doing what you’re supposed to do. Low performers who’ve been allowed to slide for years can be pricklier than a porcupine when they are suddenly held to the standard they should have been all along. If you’re not willing to make them unhappy, and risk a complaint being made about you, you may not be cut out for leadership.
On the other hand, if you’ve had a handful of complaints (or more!) made about you, it’s time for some serious introspection. Ask yourself what, or who, is the common denominator. Answer: it’s you. If multiple people have complained that you play favorites, or that you treat people disrespectfully, you probably do. Get honest with yourself and be willing to change your behavior or your train just might jump the tracks.