There’s Always Room for Improvement

 “There’s always room for improvement.”  Enjoy!

Leadership Forum Sept 2012
Leadership Forum Sept 2012 (Photo credit: mylearning)

My staff has heard the refrain so many times, they’ve been known to help finish it off once it starts rolling off my lips – “There’s always room for improvement.” It’s one of many management mantras I’ve adopted over the years, and it’s come in handy as the team learned to embrace continual process improvement. Recently, I had a chance to walk the talk when I agreed to manage a new work group for a couple of months while we searched for a permanent hire.

After two years with my team, I had some anxiety about departing. The group I was joining was almost twice as large as my team, and I worried about giving each employee the attention they deserved. I knew it would be an uphill battle to gain their respect and trust, especially given the short timeframe of the assignment. Adding to the stress was the realization that I wouldn’t be able to keep in touch with my “home” team – there just weren’t enough hours in the day. I was reminded of the many “trust exercises” I’ve done in training classes over the years as I handed over the reins to the manager stepping into my role and hoped my new employees would greet me with open arms.

Entering a new role is always a chaotic experience, but within a couple of weeks, I found my management groove. Every leader has a different approach, and I quickly learned the value of adaptability as I adjusted my style to meet the new team’s needs. My emphasis on coaching towards autonomy was replaced with a commitment to information sharing and communication. The majority of my team was located in offices far from my home base in Washington, DC; I hosted more meetings and had more email traffic than I’d ever seen. It was all worth it to see the team begin to open up and share their feedback and ideas with me as they connected the dots between their day to day work and the organization’s goals.

I also observed from the sidelines as my “regular” staff adapted to their new leader. Employees I used to see several times a week began working from home more frequently, choosing to reduce distractions and gain focus as they reported to a manager several states away. Across the board I found myself impressed with the savvy skills demonstrated by my employees, old and new, as they adapted to a new leader.

Once a manager was hired for my “new” workgroup, I coordinated with her to host one last staff meeting so I could say my goodbyes. I was proud of their growth and work under my leadership, but couldn’t resist reminding them that “there’s always room for improvement.” I have to admit that I was a little proud of myself as well, for stepping out of my comfort zone to take on a challenging new role.

Read more at Recruitment 411: Lessons of Leadership Part 1 – There’s Always Room for Improvement – GovLoop – Knowledge Network for Government.

About Kelly Business Advisors, LLC

Early in his career John started-up and sold 7 years later a Moving and Storage Company in Milwaukee. He acquired and was President of Kelly Pickle Company f/k/a Bond Pickle Company, in Oconto, WI for 12 years. Built a monthly round-table networking group of manufactures in Oconto. Developed marketing plans, sales plans, products and implemented lean manufacturing practices with many North American companies. Worked with non-profits as both a front line leader and behind the scenes. He is active in his church, a member of the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce,Business Networkers International (BNI) and now is joining the Green Bay Downtown Rotary.

One thought on “There’s Always Room for Improvement

  1. “There’s always room for improvement” – this phrase always makes me smile. A few years ago, I bumped in to a co-worker after an all-staff training and she muttered to me: “Why do we have to keep improving, when can we just be good enough?!” I immediately thought of the idea that there’s always room for improvement (though I didn’t say it aloud).

    I think your larger point that, regardless of where people are in their careers, taking on challenges that go beyond our comfort zones is a key piece to the continual improvement process. Thanks for sharing your reflections.

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