It's the first full weekend of summer and the weeds are reappearing in my garden. Okay, dear astute readers, I know technically this is the second full weekend of summer as the solstice was on June 21. But I also know that for parents of primary school children, since schools around the nation wrapped up this past Friday, it only now - finally - feels like the holiday is officially underway. And, because we're getting niggly, I'll confess that the weeds in my garden have actually been raising their mocking little heads for the past couple of weeks now too. I'm taking the liberty of tying the two occurrences together to make my upcoming points. So, let's carry on, shall we?
Alrighty. As I was saying, it's the beginning of a new season and the beginning of some unsightly intruders invading my space. (I promise I really am talking about weeds, not using the word as a metaphor for this summer's expected influx of American friends and family.)
Last spring, daughter Lulu and I moved into a new home. It's more spacious than where we were before and set amid a welcoming neighbourhood of friendly families. Children ring our doorbell as soon as they're home from school, "Can Lulu come out to play?" It reminds me of my own childhood growing up in rural Indiana.
So, we have front and back gardens which I attacked fervently as the previous residents had quite neglected them. Overgrown roses, more vine than bush, intertwined with a gang of weeds and volunteer saplings. I pruned the roses, pulled out the weeds and chopped out the saplings down to the roots.
But now, just a couple of months later, the weeds are coming back; defiantly poking through the protective and decorative layer of bark.
I noticed them the other day as I drove up to the house. The questions that immediately entered my mind, were, "Should I tackle the weeds another time?" "Does it matter?" "Will I clear them away, only to have the garden become overrun again?"
The answer to all of the above is, of course, a resounding, "Yes. Yes. and Yes." And those should be your answers when you notice that your communication is in need of a little TLC. But instead of grabbing the pruning shears and a hoe, here are the tools you'll need to get things blooming again:
1 Understand you need constant communications vigilance
It's the same way with our professional developments and improvements toward purposeful and positive communications.
Old behaviours, unconscious bias, poor management choices or careless comments can creep back in. If I left recurring stumbles unchecked, these weedish-missteps can grow and take over my style and even impact my foundation - becoming more structural and less situational.
Like properly tending a garden, we are never truly finished developing ourselves. In fact, one of my favorite tests I give my clients to illustrate whether or not their mission on life is done is to ask and then answer the following question: "How do you know if your mission is finished? Are you still alive? Then it is not finished."
2 Evaluate regularly
Once you understand and accept that your garden - or in this case your approach to communications strategy, style and delivery - needs to be vigilantly tended, you can put checkpoints into place.
For instance, are you the kind of person who focuses more on managing up or managing down? If you manage up - meaning you spend a lot of time creating an impression of yourself for people who are ranked higher than you - check your motives. If you are trying to advance your career, that's fine, but don't entertain any illusion that everything and everyone else around you is satisfied with your efforts.
If you don't take the care to also manage the people beside you or below you in your department, you may not have the support needed to maintain your trajectory.
I have seen this kind of behaviour come home to roost in a matter of a short time usually two to three years. Don't forget that leaders need followers.
Therefore, I strongly recommend journaling about your communication interactions with your boss, your colleagues and even yourself. Also, make time once a month on your calendar for just 15 minutes to review your journal and reflect upon the patterns you see.
3 Correct your course
A client I have been working with for a couple of months now admitted he has not been keeping up with his daily communications journal as I had suggested.
In fact, he never really started. So, what to do? Throw in the towel? Or, to continue with my gardening analogy, "throw in the trowel?" Of course not.
I advised he pick up a notebook or open a folder on his laptop and just get going. What is your journal equivalent? If you haven't started, start.
If you fall back into a bad habit, reboot. Make a course-correction. We do not have to be the same person tomorrow that we are today.
This morning, as I backed out of the driveway, I looked over to my freshly-weeded (again) garden bed. I was proud to see not one, but two, red roses. They were beautiful in their glory, not distracted by any little green weeds around them. For now.
Sunday Indo Business