You've worked hard to get to this point in your career and had many successes along the way. You may think continuing with your current approach will move you to the next level or goal (if grinding it out worked once, why not again?). However, "more hard work" isn't a sustainable advancement tactic. 

A client I coached worked extremely hard and was rewarded for it. One night, this client was up late into the night preparing for an important presentation. She was exhausted as she drove to the meeting the next day. My client did have a great presentation--but when she came home that night, she slammed her car into the garage door. She realized she couldn't keep up her pace. She needed a new way of working and a change in mindset as well.

Evaluate your work process biannually.

Sometimes, it can be hard to figure out where it is you're having difficulties in your work. That's why it's essential to evaluate every six months how you get work done. Look at everything you do with beginner's eyes.

A leader I worked with was charged by his manager to think more creatively about the business. He complained to me that he didn't have proactive thinking time because his manager didn't understand the time-intensive work of client deliverables. After we evaluated how he worked, he realized he was working too fast. He decided to slow down and refocus.  

My client and I agreed on one small tweak to his work processes: to not respond immediately to emails and client calls. His approach to clients implied that he was available 24/7; in fact, my client prided himself on his exemplary service skills. However, because of his being always on call, my client didn't have a healthy work-life balance or strategic thinking time.

He began letting emails and voicemails go unanswered for a brief time so he could carefully craft his responses. He did feel the pinch when a customer would ask twice for a response--however, this wasn't catastrophic for his relationships. By adding a bit more time to his schedule, my client was able to carve out 30 minutes a week of strategic thinking time.

Change your mindset.

The second step to changing your work approach is to change how you think about your skills and successes. For example, many highly successful leaders believe they can't ever miss a deadline or ask for help. However, leaders I've worked with have learned that if they "drop the ball" once in a while, they won't be fired. 

To change this perfectionistic thinking pattern, first understand your own expectations. Do you have unrealistic expectations of yourself? Investigate by looking through your reviews and 360 data, or ask a mentor for feedback. Then try making one small change to your work patterns: Ask for help.

A marketing client I worked with was frustrated and fearful because she couldn't accomplish all the initiatives the CEO expected of her. The marketing leader traditionally never asked for help and didn't know how to prioritize work. In fact, she thought that if she did ask for help, she would look weak.  

After looking at her 360, the client and I determined that she needed to be more transparent about all of her responsibilities. She decided to take a leap and speak to the CEO about her workload. Before she met with him, my client created a document that laid out company priorities alongside the expected deliverables.

The CEO was able to see that it was impossible for my client to get everything done, and helped her reprioritize her workload. My client learned that changing her mindset and allowing herself to ask for help positioned her for more success within the department.  

It can be hard to admit that your current way of getting deliverables accomplished isn't working. Examine your mindset and work processes every six months, and make small tweaks that yield more learning and successes.

Published on: Sep 12, 2019
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