Too often, when we pass up on informal and formal activities to aid our professional development for the sake of a pending project, we are also sacrificing the contribution these educational opportunities could be making to the success of our organizations.
Resolve To Take Time For You In 2012
No matter what image comes to mind when we talk about having a little “me time,” there’s no denying that for most of us, any time for personal interests was among the first to go as we scrambled to do more with less. While 2012 may not be a year where finding more time for ourselves becomes any easier, there’s good reason to include it in your New Year’s Resolutions and to encourage those who work for you to do the same.
I would venture to guess that you can look back at 2011 and remember more than one occasion where you decided to pass on an opportunity that would have been good for your professional development. It may have been something as simple as catching up with industry colleagues over a meal, or attending a seminar or, heaven forbid, going after an advanced degree. I’ll also bet that you had the same response each time.It was probably something along the lines of “I have to stay and finish this right now.” I know it happened to me on many occasions.
But, if you make a little time to think more about it, I think you will agree that this behavior is something my grandmother would characterize as being “penny wise and pound foolish.” Too often, when we pass up on these informal and formal activities to aid our professional development for the sake of a pending project, we are also sacrificing the contribution these educational opportunities could be making to the success of our organizations.
Whether it’s something as simple as hearing about a shortcut for working with spreadsheets or something more encompassing such as learning how to integrate social media into a marketing campaign, our company will never derive the benefit of that added wisdom if we never acquire it in the first place.
The importance of investing a little time in what may seem like personal or career-focused activities is a common denominator in advice from HR experts who contributed to MFM’s “Special Report on Human Resourcefulness” in the current issue of The Financial Manager magazine. I would like to share a few suggestions from that issue in the hopes that they will help to shape some New Year’s Resolutions that will benefit you and your company in the coming year:
We’re never too old to be mentored. In her “Human Factor” column, Carlsen Resources’ Ann Carlsen talks about the value of mentoring at all stages of our professional lives. She writes, “Wherever you are in your career, you can benefit from the guidance of a trusted adviser who helps you identify your strengths, address your weaknesses and achieve your goals.”
As Carlsen explains, the “old-school” approach to mentoring typically involved pairing senior-level executives with selected rising stars. “Today, mentorship is a two-way partnership dedicated to career goals that both parties agree to,” she notes. “Young people can still look to older, more senior executives to show them the ropes. But an older employee facing new technologies or new business models may just as easily seek out the wisdom of a younger colleague.”
Mentors benefit from the relationship as well. Carlsen also explains that serving as a mentor also has its own rewards, making it something we should consider working into our 2012 schedules and resolutions. Each of us has knowledge and insights that can do more to benefit our organizations, and our industry, if it is shared by more of our colleagues. Moreover, Carlsen says “Mentors are often energized by, and gain new insights from, the people they counsel.”
Participate in a cross-training program. Dean Churack, co-founder and executive vice president of Media Receivable Management, recommends cross-training programs as an effective tool for pre-empting employee burnout. As Churack notes, today’s managers have more responsibilities and often aren’t as trained as they could be for mastering the added areas, which can led to burnout. Making time to cross train benefits both the individual and the department as a whole. “Something as simple as learning a new task can create a sense of satisfaction and revitalization,” he observes.
Identify opportunities to share decision making. Letting others into the decision-making process also has mutual benefits.“Fostering a sense of teamwork and letting staff in on some of the decision-making aspects of their job and the department’s goals creates a renewed sense of belonging and importance. There are myriad studies indicating workers’ job satisfaction is often derived more from these intangibles than from a paycheck,” Churack notes.
Rebalance your work-life ratio. While we use the term work-life balance, I’m not sure we can put work and life on opposite sides of a scale. Not many of us can remove work from our lives; hopefully, what we do for work entails activities that enrich and fulfill our lives rather than detracts us from leading enjoying lives. At the same time, there’s no doubt that many of us have an imbalance when it comes to how much time we devote to work when compared with other aspects of living.
Once again, this doesn’t need to be a major overhaul of our routines. Churack encourages managers to ensure that their staff members are taking daily breaks, “from a lunch out with the department to a short pause that allows an employee to work on a personal project.” That’s also something we also need to be doing for ourselves.
Take a job-related class or attend a conference or seminar. Participating in professional development programs “adds variety to an employee’s routine while benefiting the organization,” Churack notes. I can attest to this based on the feedback we receive from participants in the conferences and seminars offered by MFM and BCCA. Educational programs that provide insights and skills that allow us to work smarter yield an immediate ROI for our companies while providing long-term value to our careers. Of course it’s hard not to focus on the costs associated with participating in an industry event, making it imperative that organizations like MFM and BCCA can demonstrate real financial benefits for those investments.
As part of delivering that value, MFM’s “Special Report on Human Resourcefulness” can be found in November-December issue of The Financial Manager, which is currently available online at no charge. It also serves as a great prelude to our January-February issue, which showcases MFM’s “People to Watch in 2012.” As our 2012 honorees’ stories reveal, they are able to bring so much promise to their employers and our industry because of the skills they have developed during their careers. What better demonstration that investing in what may seem like a little “me time” is a great way to ensure a better payoff for the “we” in our lives?
My very best wishes to you and yours for a great Holiday Season and a prosperous New Year!
Mary M. Collins is president & CEO of the Media Financial Management Association and its BCCA subsidiary. Her column appears in TVNewsCheck every other week. You can read her earlier columns here.