Don’t settle for mediocrity or status quo in your job. Whether you want to advance with your current employer of make a career shift, we want to be excellent. I use the Excellence Cycle to stay out of the land of mediocrity and build excellence.
- Self- reflection
- Ask for and act on feedback
- Involve yourself and share
In order to be the best you, it is essential to know and understand who you are. This involves knowing your values and goals and understanding both your strengths and your weaknesses. On a regular basis I spend time thinking about what my goals are. One of my goals is to have a high impact on the people and environment around me. I value creating high quality work and building a relationship of trust with those I train. I want them to know I am giving the information they need to improve their bottom line and that they can seek me out to help with questions or issues they run into. For me, part of success lies in those I train knowing that when the formal training is over, I am there for them; we are a part of a team to build company success. I also spend time considering my strengths and weaknesses. I know I am an innovative problem solver, an engaging facilitator, passionate and committed to my customers. I also know that I need to broaden my areas of expertise in the electrical field which I work in. I find that regular reflection on who and where I am as a professional and reflection of specific projects helps me to revise my professional goals.
Ask for and Act on Feedback
Self-reflection is not enough though. It is also important to seek out feedback from others. This should be from internal customers, external customers, and colleagues and is a combination of formal and informal feedback. This helps you to understand how you are perceived and what strengths and weaknesses those around you perceive. In addition to the employee review system set up by my employer, I regularly seek out feedback. A few months back when I wrote a leadership statement, I provided a copy of it to my supervisor for feedback. I have also set up a formal feedback poll that we use after webinars that helps us to get feedback on the information presented, the presentation and solicit additional training learners are interested in. When I launch a new elearning lesson or conduct onsite training, I reach out to some of the first user/participants s for feedback on their experience. The key is that after receiving this feedback is to act on it. I take what I learn from feedback and put it into practice. Positive feedback is an affirmation of things you are doing well but also a reminder of strengths you want to not become complacent with; things you want to continue to do. Constructive feedback gives you performance targets. When I receive this kind of feedback, I also try to acknowledge it and let the person who provided it know what I am working on to improve.
Involve Yourself and Share
Once you have reflected and received feedback, it is important to learn new information or techniques to guide your improvement and to share what you know and what you learn. It is also imperative to stay on top of new industry news. Involvement in formal and informal communities of learning is a place to do this. You might find yourself attending or presenting at conferences or industry meetings. I belong to the ASTD and attend the Boston chapter meetings to network and learn from my local colleagues. This might also be more informal communities such as twitter and blogs. I use both of these, as well as, Linked-In and places to learn from others but also share my strengths and areas of research and expertise with others.
All three parts of this cycle make sure that you do not stay static and continually feed into one another. Not only do these three things help you to constantly be in a state of improving, but as you follow this process, you will develop strengths that make you stand out from other professionals, which becomes your brand. Determining what those things are and communicating them through your actions and words allows you to not only be excellent, but to be known as excellent.