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Leadership, Personal Development

Is A Professional Network Even Necessary?

Do you have a professional network?

A professional network is very important for your career.  A healthy network takes years to build.  How’s yours?  Is it active and healthy?

What Is a Professional Network?

Well, let’s start by saying that it is not having 10,000 connections on LinkedIn!  Sure, LinkedIn is a very powerful networking tool, but professional networking is much more than having many connections on social media.

A professional network is a system of business contacts with the intent to connect with each other for career, business, or developmental purposes to the benefit of all involved.  Sure, a professional network may help you find your next career move, or your next great hire, but it is much much more.  They may also assist with problem solving, recommend vendors, suppliers, or professional services.  Professional networks can also establish life long mentorship relationships.

How I Got Started.

cafe-coffee-shop-coffee.jpgWay back, I was one of those that thought that a professional network was only necessary if you were looking for a new career opportunity.  As I was challenged in my position at the time and not seeking new external opportunities, I did not maintain a professional network.  Maintain?  Well, I really didn’t have one!  Then, a colleague of mine that I hadn’t heard from in a number of years contacted me.  He was currently between positions and suggested we get together for a coffee.   Believing that my employer wouldn’t be a good cultural fit for this individual and not aware of any openings that would be suitable for him anyway, I declined.  But that didn’t stop him.  To me, he was relentless and eventually I gave in and met him for a coffee.

That’s ok if you don’t know of any opportunities for me.  Let’s just get together and catch up.  You never know how we’ll be able to help each other.  If not now, someday.

I met this leader that time and to this day have continued to meet with him, exchange phone calls on a regular basis, and we have helped each other out in one way or another countless times over the years.  Today, he is the CEO of a large company, and I feel pretty confident, no I know, that he is still there for me today.  And I’m there for him.  In fact, I spoke to him just yesterday.

If you wait to create a professional network until you need a new career opportunity, it’s too late!

Why Have A Professional Network?

Of course a professional network is critical if you are searching for new opportunities.  Or as a leader, your network can be an important source of new hires for your organization. In fact, in this regard your network can be a great form of a “pay it forward” system.  You can help others find their next new career opportunity or colleagues find their next superstar hire and some day, they may repay you with the same.

However, the benefits of having and sustaining a healthy network go much further.  Below are some examples of additional advantages to having an established professional network:

  • Your own growth and development by learning new skills, technology, and approaches
  • Give/receive career advice.  Others’ points of view are healthy when evaluating careers, next steps, evaluating opportunities, and making career choices/decisions
  • Connect others to your connections or each others connections
  • Provide mentoring to other leaders
  • Receive mentoring from other leaders
  • Increase your exposure in an industry, technology, or field of focus
  • Exchanging non-proprietary business ideas
  • Benchmarking opportunities and exchange of best practices
  • Learn of development opportunities such as seminars, training, on-line learning, books
  • The social interaction beyond those you interact with daily within your organization can be extremely motivational and inspiring

 

In a future post, we’ll review the steps necessary to build your network and the investment necessary keep it healthy and active.

So what do you think, is a healthy professional network necessary? 

What are other benefits of having a professional network?

Leave a comment…

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

Together We Can - Values in Action!

#22 Together We Can, Values In Action!

Today, raise the ceiling on your expectations.  Remember, we don’t get what we want, we get what we expect.  If you expect less than the best… you most certainly will not be disappointed.

Leadership, Personal Development

Setting Personal and Professional Goals and Objectives – Tactics or Action Plans

The tactics or action plans are what brings goals and objectives to life and make things happen!  Whether setting personal or organizational action plans, this is also a step that if not done well, can lead to disappointing results.

In the last post, Setting Personal and Professional Goals and Objectives – Goals and Objectives, we discussed the various important points of strategy or focus areas and how these then lead to goal development and then SMART objectives.  In this post, we discuss the critical execution stage of developing Tactics or Action plans used to deliver a successful objective.

The tactics or action plans clearly describe the tasks that you and/or your teams will do to achieve an objective.  Action plans are typically developed annually describing the tasks to be taken by whom, and when they are to be completed.

Action Plans are the detailed and specific tasks that will be taken to achieve one or more goals. 

When determining the action plans, be sure to review all the information gathered during the strategy brainstorming such as the SWOT analysis. Involve as many of the stakeholders as possible when determining the action plans. You need to define as many tasks or actions necessary to achieve the objective.  The more detailed you are, the more likely you are to achieve the objective.

Each action to be taken should include the following details:

  • What action is to be taken
  • Who is responsible for taking each action
  • When is each action to be completed
  • What resources are required to make the action happen

road-closed-sign-1-1165296-1279x591A key step I believe that is very important, is to identify the main barriers or risks to completing the individual tasks.  These are the things that can block progress or achievement of the task, or distract you or your teams.  Identify what they are up front and then invest time and focus to determine what mitigation steps can be taken to reduce the risk of impact.  For each barrier determined, consider multiple mitigation ideas or steps you can take to avoid or reduce these risks.  Build those into your plans.  These barriers and mitigation ideas can then impact or cause you to revise multiple parts of your action plan such as the what, who, when, or how.

For example, let’s say you have a personal objective to develop a 3 year strategic plan for your team.  While considering the barriers that can stand in your way, you identify that the day to day operational nature of your responsibilities may prevent you from having time to spend thinking strategically.  As mitigation to this you may decide to block a certain number of hours per week in your calendar for the entire year specifically for “Strategy Development”.  You go further by selecting a day of the week or afternoon in which you can work off-site to reduce the chances of casual interruptions.  Reviewing your calendar, you find that the best day to do so, would be Thursdays as there are typically less head office meetings, your team is heads down on priorities for the week, and you have the most control of your calendar.  Blocking your Thursdays across the horizon for “Strategy Development” will go a long way towards removing this identified barrier.

“When something is scheduled, it is 92% likely to happen!”

In the post Setting Personal and Professional Goals and Objectives – Goals and Objectives, we used the following objective examples:

  • Personal Objectives:  Reduce my weight to 165lbs by June 1st and sustain through an active lifestyle.
  • Organizational Objective:  Reduce operating costs by 12% within 12 months.

While considering the barriers to achievement of these objectives, we determine that in the case of the personal objective the dark and cold mornings during the winter months are a real deterrent from a morning run.  Furthermore, for the organizational objective, a barrier is determined that many of the operating costs are governed by existing contracts and purchase agreements.  What action plans can be taken to achieve the objectives while taking these barriers into account?  The following are potential examples:

  • Personal Action Plan:  Purchase a treadmill for less than $1500 by 1 September.
  • Organizational Objective:  Establish a cross functional team comprised of operations, engineering, procurement and legal and identify top 10 contracts based on annual spend and opportunity, to review/renegotiate by 15 March.

The next step is a step that is often overlooked.  The problem is that after the action plans are determined everyone goes back to “normal life”.  However, soon after returning to “normal life” the action plans are forgotten.  Why?  Usually because the action plans are not integrated into daily routine and cadence.  The action plans will not happen on their own; you need to make them happen.

Here are some methods to “operationalize” your action plans:

Personal Action Plans:

  • Add repetitive actions to your Leader Standardized Work
  • Add an action plan review cadence to your Leader Standardized Work
  • Post a copy of your objectives and tasks where you will see them daily
  • Integrate into your regular weekly planning routine by adding specific tasks or actions you need to take that week as well as to review your progress and adjust as necessary
  • Set repeating calendar reminders or scheduled tasks in your calendar to review objectives and action plans on a regular basis

Organizational Action Plans:

  • Involve your team throughout all phases of developing the goals, objectives, and action plans
  • Create charters for each goal that clearly describe the problem, objectives, inputs/outputs, action plan, milestones, deliverables,  and team
  • Post or make visible to the entire organization the goals, objectives and the teams responsible for the action plans.  Regularly post updates on progress and performance.
  • Create a project plan and schedule, complete with gantt charts
  • An entirely separate topic is to implement the Hoshin Deployment Matrix to deploy and align your entire organization on your most important organizational objectives
  • Add an action plan review cadence to your Leader Standardized Work
  • Schedule regular cadence reviews with your team in which they report out on action plans and metrics, request your help, and you can provide direction
  • Conduct a gemba to review the results of actions within the operations
  • Celebrate and recognize accomplishment and completion of tasks.

 

What do you do to “operationalize” your personal or organizational action plans?  Leave a comment.

 

Other related posts:

  1. Setting Personal and Professional Goals and Objectives – Goals & Objectives
  2. Setting Personal and Professional Goals and Objectives – Mission Statements
  3. Reflections Vs Resolutions – It’s That Time Of Year!
  4. Lead with Vision
  5. Elements of Strategic Planning – Systemico.ca
  6. What Are Your Goals? – Valiance Coaching
  7. New Year’s Resolutions/Goals and How to Keep Them – The Whole House
  8. Don’t Make Resolutions! Set Goals... – Gloria Green Entertainment
  9. Demystifying the Hoshin Kanri X Matrix – Kanbanize

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

Together We Can - Values in Action!

#21 Together We Can – Values in Action!

How do your values shape your community?  Stop and imagine the people whom you identify as part of your community.  Decide what your contribution to their quality of life will be.  the quality of your life will be closely attuned to the quality of theirs.  You are the individual unit, the multiple of which is us.

Jennifer James

Leadership, Personal Development

Setting Personal and Professional Goals and Objectives – Goals & Objectives

In the last post, Setting Personal and Professional Goals and Objectives – Mission Statements, the importance of establishing mission statements and the associated values were discussed.  This is true whether you are doing so as an individual, family or organization because without them the goals you develop may not be the right ones, or ultimately not get you to your desired outcome or destination.

The next step is to develop the areas of focus, or in business referred to as strategies, that you will deploy to achieve your mission.  This is the beginning of creating a plan defining how and what direction you will take to achieve your mission.  Strategies are statements of the methods or plans you have chosen to take in the course of achieving your mission.  You are likely to have multiple strategies for each mission.  Unfortunately, strategy development is a step often skipped by many people and they go straight to goal setting.  The issue is that even if you accomplish the goal, you may or may not have actually achieved an important part of your mission.

800px-swot_en.svgStrategy development should start with some open, honest discussion and brainstorming among the key stakeholders.  A great method to facilitate such brainstorming is the SWOT analysis.  SWOT is a method to identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats related to the individual or organization.  When setting personal goals and objectives, this may seem like overkill, however, it is just as an important step as it is for a business or organization.  Why?  It’s an important step because it helps you determine and clarify what and where you should build upon and focus.  As well it helps identify the elements that are likely to erode your chances of success.  The items identified through the SWOT analysis are also critical to know when developing your detailed action plans.

Once the SWOT analysis is complete, you can then step back and begin to identify focus areas that will lead you towards your mission.  Again, invest the time to make these statements clear and descriptive enough for all to understand and articulate enough to define what you’re going to do in a broad sense.

Examples of Strategies or focus areas:

  • Personal Strategy:  Manage professional and personal life in sustainable ways that keep my energy flowing, and my mind and body healthy and happy.
  • Organizational Strategy:  Grow current business units by re-investing savings from efficiencies gained by waste reduction.

Following strategy development is the setting of goals.  Many people use the terms goals and objectives interchangeably, which is incorrect as they are very different.

A goal is a statement explaining something you want to achieve.  A goal is a milestone to achieve while implementing a strategy. 

There can be multiple goals within each strategy.  Goals should be simple, clear, and easy to understand.  Goals need to align with the desired and defined values already determined.  Goals also need to be able to change and evolve over time as required.

Your goals should be achievements or outcomes to be realized over a 3 to 5 year span.  They should be aggressive but achievable.  You don’t have to know how you will achieve a goal when you create it.  That step comes later.  If a goal is to be achieved over a longer period of time than 5 years, then I recommend that you break that goal down into 3-5 year interval goals.

Examples of goals:

  • Personal Goal:  My health is my No. 1 priority maintaining good physical shape, and healthy mental and emotional stability.
  • Organizational Goal:  Increase profit margins

Objectives define the implementation steps to attain a specific goal.  Objectives are what makes the goal’s general statements Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based or SMART.  They define the who, what, when, where and how necessary to achieve a goal.

smart-goals

Most people are aware of the SMART concept with setting objectives, however, this crucial step is often a point of failure for many.  This is usually because at least one component is not well enough defined.  This is particularly important within organizations where you are counting on more than yourself to understand, action, and achieve the objective.  If any one or more of these components are not well defined, the fish bowlprobability of success is dramatically reduced.  For example, if the objective is not specific enough the person or team working on this objective may not adequately understand the intent and despite working very hard on what they think is required, they deliver something very different than what was intended or even needed.  Similarly, if the objective and associated milestones are not clearly identified with completion dates, the “fish is likely to grow to the size of the fish bowl”, meaning, individuals and teams may take as much time as they can get away with, causing the goals to take much longer than desired or even necessary.   Lack of clarity or ambiguity in any of the SMART components can cause the fish to grow to the size of the fishbowl.

Examples of Objectives:

  • Personal Objectives:  Reduce my weight to 160lbs by June 1st and sustain through an active lifestyle.
  • Organizational Objective:  Reduce operating costs by 12% within 12 months.

bridge-jump-offIn the next post, we will discuss what I believe is the most critical step that really determines if the goals and therefore the mission will be accomplished; the Tactics or Action Plans.  Action plans are where the rubber hits the road.  As in the picture to the left, you may have a great goal to live an adventurous life, but if your action plan is flawed, the result could be disastrous!  “Follow” me to find out in the next post what the most important steps are in establishing and executing your Action Plans.

Additional Resources I found useful on setting Goals and Objectives:

  1. Elements of Strategic Planning – Systemico.ca
  2. What Are Your Goals? – Valiance Coaching
  3. New Year’s Resolutions/Goals and How to Keep Them – The Whole House
  4. Don’t Make Resolutions! Set Goals… – Gloria Green Entertainment

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

SWOT Image By:  Xhienne [CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons