It’s 2021 – It’s still a Virtual World – How will you gain information about how you are doing at work?
We’re all stuck, yet we all have hope. Still, the ambiguity of the current pandemic situation leaves us unable to plan for anything except more virtual work (more sweatpants), less travel (lower gas prices), fewer in-person gatherings (fewer hugs), and more home schooling (teachers need a Flippin’ RAISE!).
As a curious person with a rich work history, my line of work suits me, whether virtual or in-person. I’m an executive coach. I’ve worked in organizations that flourished under great leadership and those that started to rot due to toxic leaders. Leadership matters at every level. When leaders feel stuck, I ask questions to help clarify the issues. Asking questions helps people think. Asking questions in a unique way, helps people reframe how they look at things.
The current question that seems to stop most people in their tracks, regardless of their position:
‘Do you want More? Or Better?’
In a recent poll I ran on LinkedIn, the preferred response was: ‘Both!’
Follow up question, ‘which one comes first?’ (silence – palpable silence)
Let’s step back, ‘more or better’ is contextual.
More clients or better clients (depends upon your business model).
More toilet paper or better toilet paper (only 2020 would make this a feasible example).
More virtual meetings or better virtual meetings (we can all agree on better).
More vs Better = Quantity vs Quality
The answer will always depend upon the context. What if the context was how you are doing at work?
Why is this question helpful? First – it helps your brain start to calibrate what you really want – or don’t want – and clarity is a great place to start. Steve Jobs once offered, “Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.” Baseball fans will agree. But let’s say you run a car wash – more cars at a set price may always be more desirable than one car that wants every service. Context is key to recognizing your clarity. When you want to know how you are valued at work – that’s contextual too.
Second – it provides one the opportunity to consider what to be grateful for – by the sheer acknowledgement of what you already have before adding to it. For example, the best hiring strategy is to have a high quantity of qualified candidates. Thus, you first need to value the current talent you do have that is producing quality work. Even if you want more hires at the same caliber, you must look the quality you appreciate first and strive for quantity second. And learning about how you are doing at work – you need quality information first too. Looking at this New Year, it’s easy to see how we may all jump at the chance to have more in-person interactions (quantity), yet it’s understandable when we all stop and acknowledge that we prefer better in-person experiences with the people we know (quality). It’s still a Virtual world. As an executive coach – here are 3 areas everyone needs to gain insight – especially in how they are perceived at work: how they are seen, heard, and valued. To feel seen, heard, and valued – we must take unique actions.
We must step into conversations to gain information about ourselves – and yes, this includes executives who have no real upper management that oversee their daily efforts. Here’s why:
Seen: Since we are all hidden behind computer screens it feels impossible to know if anyone ‘sees’ our contributions.
Heard: Unless specifically asked in an email or during a virtual meeting or conference call – the increased feelings of invisibility are climbing because no one is ‘hearing’ us speak about our work either.
And Valued– unless we are gaining compliments, shout-outs, or positive feedback in writing or in public, we have no way of knowing if what we produce is even ‘valued’.
To ease the burden of gaining this information, research has revealed 3 things to include in a conversation that will help.
Whether asking about yourself or offering information to another – always establish the context of your conversation – even if it’s a brief one. This sets both people up for success.
Ex.: Carole, I’d like to talk about the data you presented in the meeting this morning.
When asking or providing information – always culminate what is needed into ONE thing. It helps the brain focus.
Ex.: What was the most important data points you feel contribute to our project?
And finally, always ask for an example of how the other person sees the situation. Provides a new perspective you wouldn’t attain on your own.
Ex.: Can you provide me an example of how you see that particular data being more relevant than the others?
This framework works on many fronts.
How can this apply for you? You can always ask to gain insights about your own work, leadership, or you can provide information to another. And it can be as short and sweet as this….
Example: Carole, I’d love to ask a question about my leadership. What is the most helpful thing you see me providing our team during this project? Can you share an example of the most recent time you’ve witnessed that?
The added bonus:
By using context, you set the other person up to feel more successful in the conversation and they feel seen by this one simple nuance.
By asking or providing one thing to concentrate upon you have included the other person in the conversation – and they feel heard.
Lastly, by asking for an example, you are asking to see the world through their eyes, and they feel valued.
Not only can you gain information about yourself so that you feel seen, heard, and valued – but you are providing the same service to another. Win-Win.
More or Better? Given the context of what you want the New Year to provide for you – especially at work and in your life – we all need to go after receiving more information. Specifically, we need to seek better information about how we are all doing in the jobs we have chosen to work in (or the virtual world we must work in). You and your job will determine what you need to hear. When asking other professionals whether they preferred more or better – it’s easy to see why many said both.
So, in the spirit of the New Year – which comes first – for you – more or better? To gain more information about The ASK Framework™ offered in this post – click here to receive a complimentary electronic copy of the book due to be released early 2021.