THURSDAY THOUGHTS! – Could you benefit from short-term coaching?

Robin_coaching-iconI am very proud of a recent client whom I’d worked with to produce a short/medium and long-term career plan.  All her goals have now been achieved from that plan: a big professional one and an equally big vocational one.  It’s taken focus and dedication from her and just a little assistance from me to achieve clarity over what those goals actually were, and equally important, why and what motivated her towards them.  

As a result, I’m delighted to say that I’ve been given permission to quote her as follows:

Screenshot 2013-09-05 12.56.52

Read all about other successful aspects of Alison’s mentoring journey HERE

If you want to create a similar degree of clarity and purpose, I’m just a click away.  I promise you it will be painless 🙂

How do you go about planning your pathways and do they fall into disrepute quickly?  I really can help you set a plan, keep to that plan, and ultimately make it  happen.  Time in the year is running out so act today.

Finally, a massive congratulations to Alison for getting that promotion and making her vocation a reality!

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Mentorship & Me – Part 6 – Alison Crawford – Success!

Coaching and MentoringSometimes life can get in the way of career aspirations, but with a Mentor on board I felt that I had a little extra support to get back into the swing of things.  Having applied for a couple of jobs and not heard anything for a long time I assumed that I hadn’t been shortlisted, but then out of the blue two interviews appeared.  Time to put my game face on and get ready.  Mentor session booked, job specs circulated.  I arranged for a colleague to do a mock interview and my (very supportive) boss gave me the inside skinny on the interview structure this organisation was using.

My mentor session wasn’t quite what I expected.  Expecting lots of tips on delivering a good interview, instead I was told to ‘knock ‘em dead’ and asked how I will be choosing which job to accept.  Reflecting, this was just what I needed.  I knew how to do a good interview, the reminder of this was timely, but at this point in time I needed confidence more than anything else, and this is precisely what I got from my session. We talked about my favourite of the two possible roles and how this matched my career aspirations more fully, and we explored my passion for this potential line of work.

The moral of the story (if such a thing exists) is that the external perspective can be very useful.  I thought I needed more knowledge or strategies to succeed at interview and would have spent evenings and weekends researching endlessly.  In reality, I had this already, I just needed to be reminded of that and then to sell it, and to believe in myself that I was up to the jobs on offer.

And my mentor was right.  I was offered both jobs.

Mentorship &Me – Part 16 – Peggy Edwards – What is it you really need?

imageAnother great mentoring session recently, based around a specific piece of work. I thought I would try and draw the strings of my development together by focusing on a paper I need to take to my Board. The aim of this was to see if I had improved in presenting information and arguments (which has always been clear in my mind) to others.

It was, as always, a very useful exercise, the fundamental idea soon became clear that a refocus around a more suitable model for stakeholder engagement, would produce more of my desired outcome. So, now I have an even greater idea and paper to present as a result of working through the real issues in play.

However, the new challenge now is; how can I achieve that again without taking a whole day (and a few muffins) out of the office to bounce ideas around and polish the final product? We rarely have the luxury of that sort of time and contact with another in a normal working day. So my ‘tool kit’ going forward? To ask myself “What is it I really need to achieve with the idea” and ‘really’ being the core. Say it as it is, instead of trying to put a fancy wrap around the ‘it’ and use too many words. Read it out loud…….you think I would have got that lesson ingrained by now.

Mentorship & Me – Part 15 – Peggy Edwards – Reflection

IMG_1496After spending some idilic time wondering around the Aresko estate, my latest  mentorship session took a reflective view of progress to date. We have now reached a point in our sessions where there are less ‘what am I going to do with you’ comments and far more ‘thats good’. My reflection skills have improved to the point where I have stopped rocking in a corner and my mentor has to drag painful self analysis out of me, to an ability to recognise what I wasn’t doing so well in the past. I hope others have seen a change in me, I know I certainly view my professional life so differently now. Little things which seem to dominate my personality have now gone; the pressure of my in box, my constant to-do lists, my need to read and research things to the minute detail. I am developing ways of seeing myself from another view point, spending time reflecting on how I can do things differently and how others traits can influence me and how I can then influence them. Without mentorship I would still be stuck with the attitude of ‘this is me and they have to get over it’  and wondering why I could never seem to get things quite right. Now I can see more clearly how what I do makes a difference. Onwards and upwards……………well there are some lovely hills on the estate.

Mentorship & Me – Part 14 – Peggy Edwards – Has Anything Changed?

Well folks I have fallen off the wagon; emails going fine, to-do list still banished but the red in me did rear its ugly head again last week, be it for a brief moment. I reacted badly and immediately to what I took as a personal and public verbal onslaught by a manager. Instead of taking in a deep breath, they got my old self, responding with as good as I felt I received. So my mentor poses the question what has changed (and what on earth is she going to do with me)?

Actually, a lot has changed, yes the genie was out of the bottle, but he was put back in again very quickly. Also I recognised that the situation was handled badly instead of justifying it to myself as I would have done previously. I also took the time to reflect and discuss it with my line manager and formulate a strategy for handling the ongoing situation and future potential encounters. Mentorship has helped me recognise that my behaviour, at times, isn’t how I would like the world to think of (or remember) me, those times are now few and far between.

Mind you it was a bit of a shock to those around at the time…….they now know what they are in for if they rattle me enough.

Mentorship & Me – Part 5 – Alison Crawford – An Epiphany!

Since my previous mentor session, it’s fair to say I have had an epiphany, a moment of clarity.  All this reflection and thinking about my future in 5 years time is starting to make sense.

So at my last blog update, I was feeling a bit dejected having not passed sifts for some jobs I applied for.  So far there is still nothing of interest to apply for.  This is likely to change, as the restructure of the NHS will generate opportunities for someone like me.  But this isn’t where my reflection has paid off.

My 5 year plan has been looking a bit sketchy on the 3-5 year part.  Other than a better paid job, I have to be honest that I don’t really have a specific goal.  There are no roles in the business I’m in that I really long to have.  My ambition feels somewhat stifled.  So what is the great epiphany?  Well I don’t think I am destined to climb this particular greasy pole to the top, I think I want to change my career entirely and indulge my passion for the outdoors.  In a nutshell, I have hatched a plan that will allow me to start up my own garden design business in the next 3-5 years, giving me the chance to escape my current desk-bound existence.  Once this tiny idea hatched, everything else has made more sense, and I have been able to start turning this from an idea into a reality.  My little red mentee notebook is now filling with ideas of how to make this a success.  The course I need to enrol on, people I need to speak to about their experience of running their own small businesses, information about the market for this skill in the area where I live.  What sort of income can this generate, what sort of companies I could be working for.

Having discussed this with my mentor, I am fired up with fresh enthusiasm and ambition.  This isn’t just a heart decision, the head is getting involved too and making some good contributions as well.  The reality of the situation is that I’m not quitting my job tomorrow and buying a new pair of wellies.  My bank manager still requires a mortgage payment every month, but I have a plan for how to keep him happy and make this change too.

So I’m still risk averse, still obsessive about planning and still wanting to have a greater influence over my work area.  Nothing about me has changed, but somehow the penny has dropped and I feel like the answer to my own happiness and career satisfaction is 100% in my own control again.  And it feels great!

Mentorship & Me – Part 13 – Peggy Edwards – 360 Feedback Exercise

Well it’s done and I have the results! I have put off doing a 360 feedback exercise for years as I have always been scared of the results, and now I don’t know why. The results were great, not saying I am perfect but nearly everyone provided really positive feedback which was not only touching but also has helped me realise that I am a valued member of the team. There wasn’t a huge gap between my own scoring and the scoring of others which is reassuring that I have a certain degree of self awareness. It has also provided me with new perspectives to take to my manager to inform my PDP and gave me pointers on where I can improve my support of the team and my behaviour in my workplace, which gives me a great way forward. The whole process was very easy and the delivery of the feedback from my mentor was (as always) supportive, professional and also probing about next steps.

So my advice to others? Go for it!  I intend re-doing the exercise in 12 months time but with far more people to get a wider view.

Mentorship & Me – Part 12 – Peggy Edwards – Will I ever learn?

I have spent many years teaching people how to investigate patient related incidents. I emphasise that hindsight is a wonderful thing and on many occasions people are “too busy doing it instead of thinking whether they should” (points for those who can name the 80’s film this is quoted in).

Do you think I listen to this philosophy myself? Well I didn’t this week. I had a very difficult workshop to facilitate which was vital to a key development at work. It involved external delegates whose input would be invaluable. So did I excel, did I perform at my peak and was it a success……NOPE. It was a nightmare!  I tried to run a workshop over video conferencing, web ex and face to face across five different sites; why did I ever think this was going to work?

So, after a rather large Gin and a good whinge I decided to follow my mentors advise and reflect; what went well, what didn’t and what I would do differently? One of my personality traits is that I want to please people and help; I thought I was helping and being supportive by allowing this farce to go ahead. I knew it wouldn’t work but I wanted to ensure we bent over backwards to engage with as many people as we could. Instead of getting people on board we actually alienated them and some even walked out!

Too busy doing it instead of thinking whether we should…what would I do differently? I will never ever use VC again for workshops, it doesn’t work, it isn’t good enough for multiple sites. It is web ex or face to face from now on. If I have to run workshops regionally so be it, I will never be in that situation again. I am also going to be a bit more assertive about my concerns, I knew this wouldn’t work so why didn’t I just stand up and say so? I was trying to please again, but that isn’t my job, my job is to manage risk and I didn’t manage the risk of that workshop going wrong. Lesson learnt, onwards and upwards………

Mentorship & Me : Part 4 : Alison Crawford : Nobody said it would be easy!

No one said that being mentored was going to be easy, so I guess it’s no surprise that it’s not.  I have applied for three jobs and have not passed a sift for any of them.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but then again a few months ago I may never have had the guts to even apply without my mentor’s encouragement.  So I guess I’m one step forward, even if it’s yet to pay off.  Now we enter the next stage of gathering feedback and taking a hard look at what I am missing, a critical reflection which is something I tend to shy away from.  So in this regard, this is where having a mentor will pay off, encouraging me do something I dislike, but with a friendly face to guide the way and revealing the opportunities I should be grasping.  The hard reality is that I still have a lot to learn about business and life before I can achieve my ultimate goal, but that’s OK, as long as I’m pointed in the right direction.

Mentorship & Me – Part 3 – Alison Crawford – And Now Lets Make It Happen …

Last week I had a telephone mentor session, revisiting what I’d put in my 5 year plan.  Very clear on what I want for the next 12 months, a bit sketchy on the five year part.  So I outline my plans to tackle the 12 month part of my plan, basically things to build my reputation and get recognised for getting things done. My mentor agrees that this plan is indeed a good way to proceed.  Sometimes it’s good to hear that!  Best made plans don’t always work out, and I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of legwork these past few years, still waiting on the payoff.  Knowing that I’m doing the right stuff tells me that it will work out…. eventually.
So today I get one of my usual job search email notifications.  It’s 99% guff, but surely enough, I see a job I want!  More importantly, I just don’t have what they want….. yet.  I have the ‘analysis’ skills, but not the business stuff. So I see a minor breakthrough ahead.  I might not yet see light at the end of the tunnel, but at least I know that it leads somewhere I want to be.
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