Practical Ideas You Can Put To Use Within 48 Hours.
When Ben Franklin was 20 years old he developed a system of self-improvement he believed was responsible for distinguishing himself from his peers. His system involved taking time each week to track and evaluate his progress against 13 Virtues or character qualities. The power in Franklin’s approach is not in defining the virtues but rather in the focus and follow up of his system.
Apply the process below to yourself first, and then use it in your goal setting 1:1’s with your employees as you start the new year. The wording of the questions is important. You should write out your answers to make it more formal.
1. Ask, “What is one area of your performance or leadership you would benefit from improving this year?” It’s helpful to be somewhat specific in defining your target. “Giving real-time feedback to demonstrate appreciation for employees and help them improve” is better than “Help my employees improve.”
2. Articulate, “What will you have to do differently in order to improve?” Describe the behaviors you’ll need to demonstrate that are consistent with your desired outcome, “When one of my employees does something that needs acknowledging, I will make a note of it and have a conversation with them within 24 hours to give them feedback.”
FOR FOLLOW UP:
3. Determine the mechanism and frequency for follow up. If it is for yourself, create a tracking document and put a standing item on your calendar reminding you to take time to check in and evaluate your progress. Make a note of successes and identify and address any obstacles. If it is for your employee, make it a standing item in your 1:1 meeting to check-in to discuss progress and any barriers to improvement. Follow up should happen at least once a month for the entire year.
Obviously you can do more with this approach. You can incorporate this into your team and have each individual share their focus area with the rest of the team. You can create a buddy system and pair people together to support and challenge each other. You can apply the questions and the approach to your team to improve the quality of your team meetings or follow through on team goals by asking, “What is one area of our team’s performance we would benefit from improving this year?” Take a moment and consider the impact if you and each of your employees made significant improvement in just one key area of performance or leadership in the next year. Maybe there’s a reason Franklin continued to use this process throughout his life. Start the revolution!