New leaders, make decisions slowly
When you take on a leadership role, it can be tempting to prove yourself by making early decisions fast. But until you’re familiar with how things work in the company, you’re at risk of judging processes and people too quickly. That’s why it’s important to manage your urge to “do something.” Instead of acting, focus on listening to, observing and learning from those around you. Take notes about what you hear, paying attention to when your assumptions about the company or your team are right, and when they’re wrong. And make sure you talk to a variety of people. You may not know yet who’s a reliable source of information, so it’s easy to be overly influenced by one person’s or one group’s perspective. Once you feel confident about moving forward, use your new knowledge to select a critical area of focus for the year. This will help people direct their efforts and evaluate progress — both yours and theirs.
(This tip is adapted from “Why New Leaders Should Make Decisions Slowly,” by Constance Dierickx.)
How leaders can make better use of feedback
Do you get real value out of feedback? Sometimes leaders aren’t sure how to move from receiving it to using it to grow. To put your feedback into practice, take the following steps. First, talk it through with someone who is trustworthy, curious — and not in a position to evaluate your performance. Ask them to listen carefully and help you sort through your thoughts. Next, draft a development plan. It should include a summary of the feedback, questions you have about it, the steps you’ll take to improve and the help you’ll need. Then share this plan with the people who gave you the feedback, and use the opportunity to ask your questions. Don’t debate or get defensive. Next, revise your plan with their new input, and include how you will measure your progress. Finally, start following your plan, and check in with your colleagues every few months. With their help and your commitment, you can keep improving and advancing.
(This tip is adapted from “6 Steps Leaders Can Take to Get the Most Out of Feedback,” by Jennifer Porter.)
Building your career while you wait for your dream job
When you’re starting your career, should you hold out for your dream job or take anything you can get? Trick question — the answer is “a little of each.” There is value to be had from almost any role, so while you search for that ideal match, pay the bills with jobs that give you one (or more) of three things: experience, credibility or income. You’ll need the right skills and background to land your dream job, so in the meantime, look for roles that will let you build relevant experience. And consider jobs at companies with great reputations, even if the job in question isn’t your exact goal. Having a top company on your résumé will make you stand out both now and in the future. Of course, sometimes you just need a pay cheque. When all else fails, do what it takes to duct-tape an income together.
(This tip is adapted from “Should New Grads Take Any Job or Wait for the Right One?,” by Jodi Glickman.)
Getting people to join your paid online community
Starting a membership website is a great way to build a community (and a source of income) around your area of expertise. But how do you get people to sign up? First, make sure you have a critical mass of users — at least 50 — before launching. If people go to your site and don’t see any activity, they won’t be inclined to join. Use social media and your email list to identify potential members, and reach out to colleagues and contacts who may be interested. Once you launch, be heavily involved early on. Members won’t know each other, but they will know you, so provide content and start conversations. Keep an eye on the tone of discussions — if they start to turn negative or get off track, step in to redirect them. And help new members get acclimated quickly. Long-standing users may be dismissive of new arrivals, so create a culture in which everyone feels welcome.
(This tip is adapted from “How to Create an Online Community That People Will Pay For,” by Dorie Clark.)
Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, November 4th, 2019