Happy New Year! Woohoo, we made it to 2022. Are you hopeful that 2022 is going to be better than 2021 and 2020? Normally I wouldn’t go two years back, but with the pandemic it just seems like they belong together.
Now hopefully, you’re all still hopeful. If you’re not at least that, you might be suffering from burnout or are working in a toxic environment. But in addition to hope, how empowered do you feel that YOU can make 2022 better? It’s easy enough to imagine external factors changing so things improve, but that leaves you in a holding pattern. But what if you had the power to bring exponential change for yourself and your team.
And I want to add here that some of you might be so stressed and overwhelmed that you don’t give two figs about your team at this point. You just need some relief for you. That’s completely valid.
If you’re reading this because you are overwhelmed, I wanted to give you three seemingly small and easy things to do. Besides you probably not having much bandwidth to do things that are large and complex, I wanted to go small because if we really look at how our brains work, small is absolutely the way to go. Last year I did another NY resolutions episode and we talked about how “go big or go home” just doesn’t work for the vast majority of us.
In addition to not making the changes we want, when we’ve gone big or gone home in the past and failed, it’s a huge blow to our self-esteem. So, let’s prep for success in 2022 by doing this right. We’re going small and consistent.
New Year’s Resolution #1 | Discover Your Talents & How They Show Up for You
I know we’re on Gen Z and even Generation Alpha now, but the Millennials were absolutely right that everyone IS special. Everyone has a unique set of talents. The CliftonStrengths talent assessment outlines 34 specific talent themes, but those came from years of research that uncovered over 400 individual talents. They grouped them together in those 34 themes to make a more practical framework.
Now did you know that the chances of you having the same Top 5 as someone else in any order is 1:258,000? And the chances of you having the same Top 5 in the same order as someone else is 1:33,000,000. That’s pretty bleeping unique.
Now why is this important? Because everyone sees the world in different ways and excels at different things because of this unique combination. If you try to be a better supervisor by looking at what other people do to be successful, it’s only going to work if they have the same talents as you. And now that you know the odds of that happening, it probably won’t.
As supervisors, we often believe that we need to be good at everything. This leads us to spend our time and energy doing things that aren’t actually helping us achieve our goals. When people focus on their Strengths Zones, Gallup has found they…
· Are three times more likely to report having an excellent quality of life
· Are six times more likely to be engaged at work
· Have more positive interactions with supervisors, coworkers, and students
· Are more productive on a daily basis
· Have more positive and creative moments
When you discover what your talents are AND find out how they’re showing up for you, you start to understand where you should be investing that time and energy to become more productive and a more effective supervisor.
So, what are the easy steps?
1. If you haven’t already, take the CliftonStrengths talent assessment.
2. Read your report, so you have a basic understanding of each Talent Theme.
3. Take two minutes a day to reflect on how those talents showed up for you. Basically, you’re asking yourself two questions. How did ____ help me? How did ____ get in my way?
If you’re consistent, you’ll start noticing patterns that will give you key insights into where you need to make changes.
New Year’s Resolution #2 | Think of Yourself in Terms of Energy Instead of Time
If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, your own sympathetic nervous system is going to send you into fight, flight, freeze. Part of that process activates hormones that will cause you to focus on time. That’s why we’re so worried about it all the time. We feel like we never have enough of it.
Energy seems so important and thus time management seems to be the problem. In reality, energy is our most valuable resource and we need to shift to thinking ourselves in terms of energy. We need to focus on energy management.
Have you ever had a free day or afternoon and thought to yourself, “I’m going to block this off and get so much done!” Did you? If you’re like most of us, you didn’t. Why? Not because you didn’t have the time, but because you were so exhausted from everything beforehand.
You had no energy. One of the reasons focusing on your talents is so effective is because when you’re using your talents as strengths, it’s one of the most effective uses of your energy.
But I want to keep it simple here. In a nutshell, we waste so much of our energy every day doing and thinking about the wrong things. We waste energy by having ineffective systems and the stories we tell ourselves. We sit and listen to Bob complain for an hour because we think we’re supposed to as his supervisor. We spend hours on projects that aren’t in our Strengths Zone, even though it would take someone else 30 minutes.
When you start to pay attention to energy instead of time, it’s a real game changer. You start to value yourself and the energy you have by setting boundaries and asking yourself, “is this really where I want to spend my limited resources?” Often the answer is no.
So how do you make this shift?
1. Set aside two minutes a day to reflect on how you’re using your energy.
2. During that time, record – as much as you can – what you did, when you did it, who was involved (if anyone), and how it impacted your energy.
If you’re already doing the talent log from our first resolution, you can easily add this in. Basically, you’re trying to see what activities and people energize you and which ones drain you. Once you know that, you can start making better decisions about how to spend your most valuable resource.
New Year’s Resolution #3 | Assess What You’re Doing
This last resolution is actually related to the first two, or rather they’re all interconnected. Our talents show up automatically every day. When we use our talents in productive ways, they show up as Strengths. When we use our talents in unproductive ways, they show up as weaknesses.
Even when we do things that aren’t directly related to our talents, we have habits and systems that show up automatically and dictate what we’re doing. That impacts how we spend our energy. We run on auto pilot 95% of the time. We go through the day without even stopping to think, “is this the best use of my energy,” or “how is this helping me achieve my goals?”
We think it’s just how we do things or how we are. But when your auto pilot settings aren’t aligned with your goals, you’re 100% wasting your energy.
When I talked about reflecting on how your talents show up for you, what I was really saying was assess how you’re using your talents. When I talked about reflecting on how your energy was impacted by different people or activities, I was talking about assessing your energy management.
This third New Year’s resolution is really just about taking that further. You have habits and systems attached to almost everything you do – getting ready for work, answering emails, meeting with your team, organizing a project. These habits and systems were probably put in place forever ago, but are still showing up on auto pilot now.
That means every day you’re probably doing lots of things – things that leave you exhausted by the end of the day. Unfortunately, there’s a very high probability those things you’re doing aren’t getting you where you want to go.
The best way to know if this is true is are you where you want to be right now? How does your life look and does it match your goals? If the answer is yes for everything, you’re good. But if there’s some no’s in there, you need to assess what you’re doing.
So how do you do that?
1. Pick an area you’d like to assess. It can either be your internal systems or a policy/procedure you use in your department.
2. Ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish. Be very clear.
3. Break down the different steps and activities you use to try to accomplish it.
4. Ask yourself or if it makes more sense, get other people’s input, which of those things are actually getting you there.
This last resolution is a bit more involved. I covered it in more depth in Part 2 of our 2021 Wrap Up Series and in other podcast episodes. When we talk about assessment, it seems like this long overwhelming process, but I want you to break it down into a reasonable time frame. Maybe 30 minutes to get a good outline so you can at least get an idea of where you are. You can always go deeper later, but becoming aware of whether the things you’re doing are actually impacting the bottom line – aka whether you achieve your goals, is crucial to better managing your energy and your success as a supervisor. It also keeps you from wasting your time on things that aren’t actually helping you get where you want to go.
Okay, so that’s three small things you can do that are going to make a huge difference for you in 2022. The first two will just take you two minutes a day, so the important thing is really to be consistent. The last one will take more than two minutes but isn’t something you need to do daily. Just commit to doing one per week or even one per month, so you can start making your most valuable resource really count.
If you think this is all great but want more support as you try to implement them, we’re still enrolling for our spring Supervisor Strengths Institute. If you’re interested, you can check out more details on our website https://www.strengthsuniversity.org/supervisorstrengthsinstitute. The Institute runs from Tuesday, January, 11 through March 8, 2022. Registration is open now until Friday, January 7, 2022.
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