Embrace the ‘wobbles’
Ok, so suddenly I’m getting lots of revelations during my yoga class that apply to challenges I face in my daily life! Today, my instructor urged us to ’embrace the wobbles.’ She commented that the challenge of balance in yoga is not solely about how we show mastery of poses, but how we react to and recover from the ‘wobbles’ when we encounter something (i.e. a person, a distraction, a threat) that throws us off balance. Understanding the value in practicing how to recover from the ‘wobbles,’ helps us to welcome them instead of seeing them as obstacles to be avoided at all costs.
By no means should we ‘give in’ to the ‘wobbles.’ However, it is essential that we not be totally caught off guard by them. As it relates to career goals, embracing ‘wobbles’ requires you to take initiative. ‘Push the envelope’ in situations where if you make a mistake, the result is not likely to cause irreparable damage to your reputation or business relationships. The keyword here is ‘initiative.’ Choose your battles! Embrace opportunities to push yourself…but do it strategically.
The ultimate goal in career performance management should be to position yourself in such a way that you ‘play to your strengths.’ If you find yourself stretching or being stretched in a direction that is not in alignment with your career goals, take a step back and re-evaluate how you got in that position. This may involve ‘initiating’ a one-on-one conversation with your manager and/or co-workers to discuss what you perceive to be your strengths, as well as how they add value to your team.
While your career goals should align with the needs of the organization, more than likely, that is not what drives you. If your goals are not ‘driving’ you to take a step outside your comfort zone, they may not sincerely be your goals. Discovering what drives you will require some trial and error. This discovery process is a personal journey that must be initiated by you, and along the way, you must learn to embrace the ‘wobbles!’
How to Thrive During Organizational Change
When executing change management in business, that space between ‘business-as-usual’ and a new way of working can be challenging to navigate. Roles and processes are ambiguous and the solid structure on which you previously stood strong, is crumbling beneath your feet. In the meantime…how do you juggle the new and the old?
Taking a lesson from my yoga practice, to maintain balance, I focus my line of sight on a person, place, or thing that is stable. In an organization going through significant transformation, stability can be hard to find. However, you can choose where you set your sights.
In the face of turbulence, focus on a high level view of the organization and ask yourself the following question: Are my values aligned with the values of this organization? Notice, that the question is not: Are my goals aligned with the goals of this organization? Strategic short-term goals are often necessarily unstable in a transforming organization as they are a result of responding in real-time to the unpredictable actions and reactions of the people within the organization.
On the other hand, authentic values, with-stand the test of time. At a high level view, either a company demonstrates the values that they give lip service to, or they don’t. The great thing about questioning the values that drive your organization is that in the process you begin to question the values that drive you. You can rest assured that you will not end up unconsciously moving to someplace you don’t want to be, if you make deliberate choices that ‘stand up’ for what you value. So, in the meantime…stay grounded by standing up for yourself.
While reading the article, “Why we need to stop using ‘self-paced’ in Competency Based Education (CBE) descriptions,” I had my higher education ‘hat’ on when suddenly I was struck by the similarities between workplace goals of cultivating a ‘learning culture’ and competency based learning in higher education.
As organizations and job roles are evolving at a rapid pace, colleagues are encouraged to aggressively seek learning opportunities. To support this initiative, many forward thinking organizations provide colleagues access to self-directed learning portals like lynda.com. However, we do learners a disservice, if we don’t make it clear that making progress towards learning goals is not, and should not be completely ‘self-paced.’
Here is where I see the parallel between self-directed learning in a business environment and CBE degree programs. To ensure satisfactory progress, milestones and deadlines should be negotiated and agreed upon. In the workplace, an agreement would be between a colleague and their manager. As indicated in the article, the timeline doesn’t need to be engraved in stone, however learners left to their own devices will be distracted. In the workplace, providing learning support such as a ‘success coach’ is not intrusive, it’s supportive.
The point is not for leadership within organizations to dictate exactly what is learned. Research has shown, that adult learners are more engaged when learning is self-directed. The point is to ensure that both the learning goal and a specified time frame for completion is agreed upon.
Organizations often give ‘lip service’ to the idea that what is important to the individuals that make it up, really matters. However, you won’t observe a high level of pride, dedication, and commitment to an organization’s mission and vision, unless that sentiment is more than just talk. Much time and money is invested trying to identify what behaviors demonstrate a high level of engagement within organizations. Should it require a lot of independent research to determine if someone you are in relationship with, is ‘just not into you?’
Mutually beneficial relationships are a two way street. In order for organizations to know if people are truly engaged, they need to ask them. Person to person, not survey to employee. The leadership in organizations must make it a priority to give, the same thing they want to receive: a high level of pride, dedication, and commitment to an individual’s mission and vision.
In recent years, there has been much talk about how to define an effective framework for ‘performance management.’ Showing genuine commitment to helping individuals develop and accomplish their personal goals may at first glance seem secondary when it comes to business. However, taking a ‘business comes first’ approach, may result in a huge missed opportunity. If the leadership in an organization determines the corporate goals, cascades them down, and then individuals are advised to ‘align’ their goals to the corporate goals, why would anyone be surprised to discover that there is a ‘disconnect’ which reveals itself as a ‘lukewarm’ commitment to the goals.
Showing genuine commitment to helping individuals develop and accomplish their personal goals as a primary rather than secondary objective of performance management will reveal the source of the ‘disconnect.’ If I’m ‘just not into you’ we both need to find that out… sooner rather than later.