Tag Archives: Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved

So You Think You’ve Arrived?

“Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.” Zig Ziglar

imagesW127FBBZThink about a time when you’ve experienced success in some area of your life, and received accolades from your family, peers and friends. For most persons, this a proud moment, a rewarding experience  which can be described as “heady” at best. Yet, this is only one side of the story. Most successful people will tell you, the road after success was probably rougher than the one leading to it. Indeed, you may learn that behind each of those individual stories of success and achievement, are untold stories that are filled with less pleasant experiences, that might have threatened to derail them. So, my focus here, is on some of the pitfalls of success, (i.e) what is likely to happen to the individual, after he / she experiences success.

For most people, success and achievement produce a huge boost in  self-confidence and provide greater motivation towards the pursuit of goals. As such, it is highly unlikely to cause an individual to  immediately think about how they need may need to change. No, not when whatever they have done has worked, or has yielded the results they hoped for. More often than not, the individual is likely to think he/she is on the right path, and herein lies the danger.

My “blind spot” popped up very shortly after my first promotion on the job. It was accentuated by the fact that, I had just won four (4)  quality performance awards including “Employee of the Year, Most Dynamic, Best Performing Learning Facilitator and 1st Faculty to Produce a Research Paper”. It’s therefore safe to say  that -“I was on a high”. The recognition and accolades that followed only served to solidify my work ethic and philosophy about work and working with people. This could best be captured in my (then) personal mantra,“It’s not about me, it’s about the job. I don’t have to like you (or vice versa) for us to get the job done”. I don’t know how that might  sound to you, but for me and other goal oriented people, the focus was simply to get the job done and produce results-not so much the “people factor”.  So I was truly caught off guard when I realized  that “what had gotten me my current level  of success would not get me to my next.

You see, my job promotion has placed me at the helm the agency’s satellite training center, responsible for its regional operations and business development initiatives, directly supervising a team of 7 and approximately 20 third-party vendors, and suppliers. I tackled my new role, deeply conscious of the weight of my new responsibilities, the expectations of others,  and with a burning desire to continue to succeed.  Sometime after, the agency conducted an employee satisfaction survey to assess how well the organization was performing. These types of survey provide the management team with a good gauge as to how they are doing, gaps in performance and the areas of business operations that require improvements.

imagesGJM2MUUQThe good news was, my unit was doing well on most performance indicators, but the bad news was -my team was not entirely happy with me. That is, my management style. For though it produced results, and I enjoyed their confidence, respect and support, I wasn’t meeting their needs. Not surprisingly, I experienced all the emotions I described in  another post (Why Does It Hurt So Bad?) and then some. Please note, that this dilemma was by no means unique to me. A quick review on the literature on Leadership Development will show that, many persons who assume leadership roles for the first time often face this issue or another during the period of adjustment.

Fortunately for me, the response of my supervisor was swift. She anticipated how devastated I would have felt, the learning curve I was in and she gave me her support. To move forward, both organizational and individual efforts were required. This experience prompted me to go in search of books on leadership, and resulted in me receiving developmental coaching, along with  participating in a truly life changing leadership development program. These interventions, gave me the skills and tools, I would need to become the effective leader I strove to be, and equipped me the competences I needed, to become more effective with my team and guide my continued success.

Therefore, my experience is  merely a reminder that, there are hidden dangers lurking with success. Success in one role, does not automatically lead to success in another for we all have blind-spots. It also taught me that:

  1. imagesDespite my earlier successes, I hadn’t arrived. In fact, I was just getting started, and was even a little ill-prepared for my new role. This is by no means an indictment on my organization or the effectiveness of talent management and development strategy at my agency. Our successes should also prompt us to assess ourselves in the context of the new and emerging expectations and obligations that will follow.
  2. Both organizations and people need to invest in ongoing training and learning and development, regardless of role or position. Therefore, it is critically important that organizations plan for the development of their teams, prepare them to grow, move and attain success within the organization, and develop into more effective individuals.
  3. Development is dynamic – strengths can become weaknesses and new roles may require new skills. To avoid the pitfalls of success,  one must recognize that, the approaches and mindsets that brought you earlier successes, might no longer serve you at the next level and you will need to change.

What has your experience been? Please share, I’d like to hear from you.

Images Courtesy of Google.

Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved

Why Does It Hurt So Bad? Feedback is a Gift!

images-sadWhy does it hurt so bad? Why do I feel so sad?  Thought I was … No, this not a love song. Nor is it  about  my love life,  or  the death or loss of a loved one.  I am talking about FEEDBACK.

At some time or another, you and I have had to give feedback to someone, or might have been on the receiving end. And for the most of us, the experience hasn’t always been pleasant. In fact, on the work scene, it is not unlikely for  both employees and supervisors to dread, that time of year when performance appraisals are to be conducted. And even in our personal lives, feedback – the nature and content of it, has led to, or contributed to, many a  broken or damaged relationships, shattered trust and sent many to seek the counsel of elders, family, pastors and friends. Still, I contend, no matter how you look at it, feedback is a GIFT.

Here is the dilemma- feedback comes from everywhere and everyone, and it can be both  good and bad. Clearly, positive feedback, the type  usually regarded as good, doesn’t make us feel mad, bad or sad. It pleases us, makes us glow and run around “boasting” of our finer attributes to anyone who will listen. Usually, it is the negative variety a.ka. bad feedback, that causes us the  tears, pain, anger, sends us ranting, catches us reacting defensively, or signals us to turn on our Silence buttons. When this happens, whether the  feedback is given by loved one, friend(s), supervisor(s) or, co-worker(s), customer(s)  or all of the above- doesn’t make it any easier accept.


Fortunately or unfortunately, I’ve experienced all the emotions I just described, and the  kinds of feedback I mentioned. One my earliest experiences with negative feedback,  came from my  supervisor in my very first job. In my then role, I was responsible for coordinating over 20 training courses offered by the agency. The position I  assumed, had been vacant for a whole year, and there was a “back-log” with issues deemed  both  urgent and important  at the same time. As you could imagine, I worked hard to resolve these issues, while focusing on my key deliverables, learning the organization and my job. But, none of this bothered me, for I love a challenge, and tend to be very committed to whatever I do. Needless to say, by the time my probationary period ended, I was confident, settled and happy with my progress and performance.  And with this positive energy and attitude, I sat down with my supervisor for my performance appraisal.

untitledfeedback 2Our discussions about my performance and impact went very well. There were no surprises. That is, until she mentioned that, some of the participants for a course I coordinated, were dissatisfied with me. The issue they raised was related to my attitude, and their perception that,  I did not seem particularly “friendly” to  them. Truth be told, they were my least favorite group and they had the biggest issues on my “backlog” list. Speaking to them, and interacting with them, always  required extra preparation-mental and otherwise. But I consider myself professional, and they were our/my customers, so truly I did my best. As my supervisor shared, I remember feeling hurt and angry, as I fought the tears welling up in my eyes . Suddenly, it was as if, nothing else had been said in the discussion, none of the kudos I had earlier heard/received mattered. And the kinder she was, the worst I felt.

Sometime after  my tears subsided, and my thoughts of their ungratefulness faded, I resolved that I had to change my approach. After all, don’t we all want to be seen favorably, to the people who matter? So,I made a deliberate effort to “warm up” to the group, smile, say  hi to them in the corridors, and be more patient in our interactions. It wasn’t before long  that they too responded in kind, and I made friends with the group, as we continued to grapple with challenging issues. The way I figure it now is that, I was much younger then and less wiser I suspect.

Since then, I’ve had many roles and numerous opportunities to give and receive feedback.


Yet to date, the most enduring lessons have been:

  • Feedback isn’t always positive or negative but it should always be honest.
  • It is equally important to listen to what is said as well as what is not said.
  • LISTEN and SILENT has the same letters- so listen carefully and ask questions to help you better understand the issue not argue.
  • Instead of dismissing the feedback you don’t like, ask yourself- is any of it true?
  • Be kind and gentle in sharing feedback-regardless of appearances, people are people first with emotions, insecurities and fears.
  • Avoid making generalizations about people. Base your feedback on the specific situation you observed, the behavior and the impact it had on you, the job or others.
  • Examine your motives in giving feedback – is it meant to develop or “tear down”?
  • Say thank you- you don’t have to agree with what you’ve  heard (but it is better to know how others feel about you and it gives you an opportunity to fix it).

In the end, I have learnt to value feedback. Feedback should make us glow and grow. Feedback is a Gift!

What has your experience been in giving or receiving feedback? Practice on me !

Images Courtesy of Google.

Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved

It’s Not An Easy Road or Intro to the World of Work

imagesCATBHRXUWhether you’ve had to search for a job or even had one handed to  you’ve been hired. And I reckon that regardless of how you got your first job, the experience is one you’re not likely to forget. This is partly because the process might have been long and frustrating or because of all the changes, challenges or the exciting opportunities it presented.  For with all things new, there is a sense of expectation, excitement, anxiousness and even fear that comes along with it. Will I be good at it? Will I like it? Will they like me?  And while these questions will occupy your thoughts for days or years to come, as you tackle your “many firsts”, one thing is sure, your life will change.

For some people, the change and opportunity costs might be small /subtle, but for others they might be more far-reaching as noted below:

  • Relocating or leaving  the comfort of home for the first time  for your own place ;
  • Greater  independence  and responsibility as you  can now access things you couldn’t previously afford,  may have to contribute to the household/sibling, or simply  take care of yourself ;
  • The loss of endless free time  to sleep late, watch TV, hang out  or  party like a rock star until the wee hours of the morning;
  • The unnerving  realization of just how small the world is – as suddenly people from work “pop up” in the strangest places like the supermarket, hairdresser/barbershop, movies, parties. And suddenly, there is always somebody you know from work who knows somebody and you are reminded to be on your best behavior.

imagesD9R7JRUOFor me, the   year was 2004, and my first job brought all that and then some. I had aced my interview and was offered a more senior role than the position I had interviewed for. This opportunity was to uproot me from my comfort zone and circle of family and friends in Kingston, Jamaica  to the cool climes of Mandeville, Manchester. And though I was not familiar with the area, had no contacts there, and only two weeks to get relocated, I jumped at  the offer and accepted my new job. After all, the way I reasoned it, I would still be living in the same country, I had no  ties, my new job would be centrally located (only 2 hours’ drive) from the places I called home, and  my friends and family would be relatively close enough for me to maintain my social life.

So with  all the gusto that only youth and starting  new chapter in one’s life can  bring, I tackled the challenges of finding an apartment, acquiring furniture, learning to navigate a new town without being mobile, meeting my  supervisor  and the rest of the team. Looking back, this big change brought me equal doses of fear, doubt, anxiety and excitement. Nonetheless, I managed all this with relative success and survived my first day on the job. But, there  was no way I could have or would have  envisaged or  adequately planned  for  the added dimension  of a Category 5 hurricane hitting the  entire island during my first week on the job. Hurricane Ivan ravaged Jamaica’s physical infrastructure (homes, roads), wreaked havoc on the natural landscape, plunged huge sections of the island into darkness and damaged other utilities that would make communications via telephone/internet particularly challenging if not impossible.

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So to make a long story short, I weathered the hurricane reasonably well at home, but had no such luck at work, as  Murphy’s Law was in full swing, and everything that could go wrong- did. Notwithstanding, the  effects of the hurricane  was a mixed blessing. It created considerable  down time in the company’s operations. This frustrated our customers and  prevented me and the rest of the team from executing  some of our deliverables on the job . Yet, it provided me with great opportunities for teamwork and building relationships  with my colleagues, which would make the difficult days/years more pleasant. More importantly, it enabled me “to jump in at the deep end”, add value and demonstrate the unique talent I brought to the team,which would augur well for my later success.

Therefore, here is  my advice to anyone  entering the world of work, starting a new job or a first job:

  • Be open-minded, committed and expect the unexpected.Great opportunities may come from outside your comfort zone;
  • Be gracious and kind to everyone. You never know  just how your actions may impact others, create goodwill  or send recognition your way;
  • Give of your best efforts and don’t be a slave  to your  job description. So while you do your job, help out a colleague whenever you see a need and wherever you can- you will learn  the company’s operations much faster ;
  • Take your time- no matter how perfect, bright and talented you think you are, you will make mistakes, but that just another way to learn.

What’s your story? Please share, I’d like to hear from you.

Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved