Let's get personal about our work

6 months ago

A few months ago my family and I moved South. From our suburban island home just out of Auckland, to the rural heartland of New Zealand, in coastal Taranaki. Our move was driven by an amazing opportunity for our children’s education, but one of the many bonuses for me was being nestled under a decent mountain, and surrounded by bush, trails and plenty of smaller peaks.

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I like to run, and a few weeks ago I ran up a hill (just the little peak on the right, I’m still building towards that big one). The Patua Trig (682m) is the highest point in the Kaitake ranges above Oakura, and the hills I look out to from my home office. I've been looking up at the top for the last month, and decided this would be my first decent local climbing conquest. 

Unfortunately I've got dodgy ankles (not great for a trail runner), so I have a solid ankle strengthening routine that I have to follow. I've also got a well practiced ‘night before’, and ‘morning’ routine for decent runs like this.

The run went fairly smoothly. I made it to the top and back in a little over 90 minutes. However, in addition to it just being a harder climb than I had imagined, I slipped into the river 3 minutes in, I lost the trail a couple of times, and I lost half of my water through a leaky mouth piece. When I got to the top, I screamed with joy. The feeling was awesome.

"Getting to the top of a hill, that feeling of elation, is what it’s all about."

 

I know not everyone in my team loves running, but I do know that they’ve all got other things that they love doing. I shared this story with them recently as a way to get some conversation going about the enjoyment that we all get from setting personal goals, and feeling that feeling when we’ve planned, and then taken sufficient action to reach them. We all have our own after hours aspirations, and talking about them at work is a great way to get to know each other, and provides an opportunity to celebrate each other’s success.

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Hopefully, we also all have goals in our work. There are similar patterns going on with these too. There are big hills to climb, plenty of preparation and action is required, lots of obstacles will pop up, and often things just turn out to be harder than we thought.

However, I acknowledge that there are differences. Often we're not the one setting the goals, we're part of a team and dependent on others, we're getting paid, and at times we're maybe just not as emotionally attached to achieving them.

We've each got our own parts to play in delivering the team goals here at Talent App Store, and we all have as much to gain as each other by nailing them. We’re doing something that is a world first, and has been described by people that know our industry best as one of the most exciting solutions, solving one of the biggest problems in our space. The personal kudos we will get from the industry will be massive when we reach some significant stages. We will always be known as the people that made a step-change in HR technology possible.

The suggestion I’ve made to the team here, is that if we want to deliver on our business goals (and set ourselves up for the next set), that we need to get personal about achieving them. We need to attach our personal pride to the part that we play, take responsibility for exceeding expectations, and think about that feeling that we get inside when we've nailed it. We also need to be comfortable getting held to account when our performance affects others ability to perform. It’s not the end of the world, just an opportunity to learn and improve.

I can’t do these things for everyone, but there are some things that I know I can do to help (all of which I know I need to work harder on):

  • Sharing my personal goals, and demonstrate getting personal about my work ones too

  • Showing interest in the team’s personal aspirations

  • Doing everything I can to ensure that they know what part they play in the bigger picture for our business, and help to define goals for them to aim for

  • Celebrating achievements, personal and professional, individual and team

  • Removing as many of the barriers as I can to ensure everyone has the best possible chance of success

I’m sure that just like the team here, your people put in a huge amount of hard work. I know that even though we’ve done a huge amount already, we still have a massive hill to climb together. I reckon it’s time to get personal, get connected to our goals, and get excited about getting to the top, even though there is always going to be another, bigger hill to tackle next.

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