Racing Out The Door? Try Shifting Gears

Do you think about trying to find a better job? One that gives you time to think. One where you can feel better about yourself. One that doesn’t feel like a rat race or a rat trap.

So what happened to that honeymoon period when you first took the job?

How did your elation about your new role and your telling everyone that you found the perfect job fall by the wayside?

Starting Your New Job

Utopia: Time & Confidence

When you were hired, people gave you time to think and learn. Your employees, peers and bosses were patient because you were on a learning curve. Even though you might have felt like you weren’t sure about what you were doing in this new environment, your confidence was high.

You knew you had just beat out all those other applicants for this position.

Those that interviewed and selected you also had confidence in you. You had swayed them that you were the best candidate and they weren’t about to second guess their brilliant choice.

NeuYear Calendar

The BEST Calendar for 2013

Finding Second Gear

A Very Scruffy White Rabbit

Then the learning curve period was over. Welcome to the real job where you’re multi-tasking at a crazy pace. Your position is actually doing the equivalent of several jobs. You are not just the manager – you are a key specialist. You don’t just oversee one function – you oversee a combination of teams.

Do more with less. Hurry, hurry, hurry. Do-Do-Do. You’re late, you’re late, you’re late.

There’s no time to think. You find yourself constantly dragged into the tactical and missing time to be strategic. You can’t think of the last time you were brilliantly creative because there is no time for pondering, brainstorms or experimentation. You suddenly realize this is not your best work. With the crazy pace, you may even have made a couple of errors that are very uncharacteristic for you.

Let’s add to that. Your bosses and peers are also working at this relentless pace. They need your answers now. You don’t have the bandwidth to get everyone what they want. Someone has got to wait. But now this waiting person starts losing confidence in you. You feel this behavioral message. Click – you’ve lost more of your confidence and your starting to feel like a very scruffy version of the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.

Stop & Breathe!

 How do you get off this treadmill without jumping to another company who probably has similar challenges?

Putting It Into Neutral

Be Clear What is Urgent and What is Important

Steven Covey’s Urgent and Important matrix from his book First Things First is a great tool.

Important and Urgent Graph

If you are spending most of your time on the urgent but not finding time for the “important and not urgent”, where strategy, prevention and improvements occur, you will have problems. Block time on your calendar to work in this quadrant and find that time to think.

To reduce the amount of work falling into the urgent quadrant be clear on who is defining it as urgent.

If it does not tie back to the mission or vision of the business then it is not urgent. The production line going down is urgent. The employee opinion survey being a week later than some Senior VP wanted is not.

Use the matrix to help manage your boss and key stakeholders. I used a modified version of this matrix as a monthly update on what my teams were working on. Each stakeholder believes their request is urgent and important but when they see it compared to the other mission critical requests being worked, they understand why theirs fell into the moderately important or moderately urgent. Managing upwards allows you to control much of your time and confidence perception issues.

Maintaining the Right Pace

Get Your Confidence Back

You are even more amazing than when you first started.

If you lose your confidence, you’ll start projecting all your insecurities onto your team, peers or boss. They may be already doing that to you so be careful what you start believing. List your strengths. If you were going to leave this job and start with a new company what strengths would you sell them?  In my workshops and coaching I often find leaders hold themselves to unrealistic standards .

In this fast paced, high-tech and low-connectivity workplace, chances are you are not the only one under-appreciated.

Like Ken Blanchard said in this quick video clip in the One Minute Manager “Catch people doing things right” – and let them know. Appreciation is a contagious act. People are much more likely to appreciate others once they’ve been appreciated. If you start the process it will spread to others and will probably even come back to you.

Appreciate yourself first and you will find you have the energy to appreciate others.

You might even find yourself appreciating where you work.

What other tips would you add? i would love to hear your advice!


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Carlann Fergusson

Carlann Fergusson is owner at Propel Forward LLC
She provides seminars and consulting on Strategic Leadership Challenges
Email | LinkedIn | TwitterWeb | Skype: carlann.fergusson

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3 responses to “Racing Out The Door? Try Shifting Gears

  1. well explained Carlann Fergusson the difference between importance and urgent. It’s very easier to now mange my goals and work. Thanks


    • I just make a list of all my urgent and important work’s list yesterday and did according as per priority. This strategy really works for me. I don’t have any words to say how much useful for me. I really really great thankful to you.


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