Self-Awareness, Goals, and Priorities: Improving Personal Effectiveness at Work
Everyone in today’s work environment agrees—we all need more time, more resources, and clear priorities. To investigate this further, David Witt, Program Director for Blanchard® sat down with Blanchard Community thought leaders Betty Dannewitz and Britney Cole.
“It can be hard to navigate today’s work environment for people who don’t know how to ask for help. But asking for help is critical if you are going to get the prioritisation, resources, and support you need to be effective,” says Cole.
“Learning how to talk to your manager is so important—how to ask for time, how to convince them to give you more resources, how to prioritise the assignments they give you,” adds Dannewitz. “When I think about personal effectiveness, I think, ‘How do I get the best out of myself? How can I be the most effective version of myself?’ For me, that begins with a deep understanding of self, knowing what my best is, and knowing where I want to go.”
“From there, you can figure out where to put your energy and what skills you need,” says Cole. “Start by identifying the destination you’re after and what you need to do to be effective. People often use the phrase ‘I’m living my best life,’ which implies that I’m utilising my time, my skills, my energy, and my strengths in the best possible way. That’s why self-awareness is so important when you are considering how to best utilise your energy, time, skills, and strengths to get to that best life.”
“One of the big challenges is that most people are just surviving,” adds Dannewitz. “They are getting done what they must get done today, and letting tomorrow take care of itself. You can't really hit that sweet spot of being your best if you’re busy playing catch-up all the time. To be effective, you have to think ahead, plan, and do things intentionally rather than just reacting to what comes next.”
The Price of Personal Effectiveness
“Personal effectiveness often involves tradeoffs,” says Cole. “We live in this culture where we need to get it all done now and do all the things now—but a smart person thinks, ‘I can do everything, but I can't do it all at once.’
These tradeoffs happen at both personal and organisational levels, says Cole.
“Personal effectiveness in the workplace isn't just about you. What does your manager believe effectiveness looks like? What do your peers believe effectiveness looks like? There’s a balancing act that needs to take place between personal goals and organisational goals.
“There is a need for a values alignment. If you can find how your values align with the work you're doing, then some of these other things will naturally fall into place. Prioritisation becomes easier because it's not just the company's prioritisation, it's your prioritisation.”
Both Dannewitz and Cole urge workers at all levels to consider the implications of continuing to carry on in a reactive mode.
“The first thing that comes to mind is lost opportunities—lost chances to grow your skill or find your passion or do things that make you happy,” says Dannewitz. “You'll miss out on amazing relationships and so many other things if you keep your nose to the grindstone, doing the same thing.
“If you live in that reactive mode long enough, this is where quiet quitting shows up. Work becomes about doing only what's necessary to fly under the radar. Why do people do that? Because they're not operating in a space where they love what they do. Either that, or they are doing what they love but feeling ineffective where they are. They're not finding that intersection. If I had to sum it up in one word, it's loss.”
“Don’t succumb to victimhood,” says Cole. “If you're always in reactive mode, you’re probably going to build resentment, contempt, and blame, thinking ‘They're doing this to me again.’
“At Blanchard, we talk about challenging assumed constraints, recognising your points of power, and becoming proactive as a tactic for addressing the victim mentality. We have so much more influence on what happens around us simply through our outlook.”
“Personal effectiveness also contains elements of knowing our worth—understanding the value we bring and not discounting that value for anyone,” says Dannewitz. “Energy management also has a huge influence on personal effectiveness. How do we figure out how to do all the things and balance our energy in the same way?”
Taking Intentional First Steps
Dannewitz and Cole encourage team members at all levels to look at the ways they can take control of their personal effectiveness.
“Don't wait, don't delay,” urge both consultants. “Personal effectiveness requires you to be really intentional, starting with self-awareness and then challenging yourself to do something different to move yourself forward. Better days are possible. Do something today!”
About the author:
David Witt is a Program Director for Blanchard®. He is an award-winning researcher and host of the companies’ monthly webinar series. David has also authored or coauthored articles in Fast Company, Human Resource Development Review, Chief Learning Officer and US Business Review.