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Taking Our Own Advice February 2, 2011

Posted by Tim Rodgers in Management & leadership.
Tags: , , ,

It’s been many months since my last blog post, and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my excuses for not making this a higher priority. I think the explanation lies in my reasons for starting a blog in the first place. It was never my ambition to build an audience of loyal followers. I just wanted to capture some of my discoveries and “personal truths” from a career as a manager, thinking that I would someday stitch these together into lecture material for a course at some community college, getting a head-start on my second career as a teacher.

Unfortunately this kind of personal development activity often gets neglected. I am sure I could become more disciplined about writing, just as I found a way to wake up at 5:00 am and go to the fitness center six-days-a-week while working in China, but work and family responsibilities (and sleep) have been my priorities. I think most experienced managers and professionals have the same trouble finding time for their own development. I’d love to become fluent in one other language instead of embarrassing myself with my limited ability in six languages, but there always seems to be a crisis at work that commands my attention.

What makes this ironic — at least to me — is that I’m ignoring the coaching that I typically give my subordinates during their annual performance review. It’s easy to look at our on-the-job experiences as the beginning and end of our career development, particularly once we leave the world of formal education. Most of the people I work with are focused on their current responsibilities without considering how they might be using their time to prepare for their next job, something that might be faced sooner than expected.

There was a time when enlightened companies or perceptive mentors would identify promising talent within the organization and provide growth opportunities, but that’s become increasingly rare in these times of reduced training budgets and concerns about one’s own job security. Employees cannot rely on their company to know what’s best for their career, so as enlightened managers we coach them to “figure out what they want to be when they grow up” and seek the resources necessary to help reach those goals, including their free time away from work. That self-reflection shouldn’t be limited to new-hires, and learning and professional growth shouldn’t be neglected at any age. Shame on me for not taking my own advice.



1. Arthur B. - February 10, 2011

Hello Tim- Good post. I neglected my own blog for the same reasons- too many other business and family priorities. After many years of management related to high tech global marketing and business development, I have drawn a similar conclusions.

It seems that it’s even more critical to get off to a good start in college, early career, and even high school… before having a family and all the related responsibilities. With two sons in high school, I encourage them to try all sorts of different experiences to find what they like and don’t like, to unlock their passion and the energy that comes from it. That’s critical at all ages of course. Internships are an excellent way to do that in college, but we need to be more creative to seek out such opportunities in the workplace.

Also, a key part of the self-reflection should be “self-knowledge” and a brutally honest assessment of personality type and natural inclinations. Tools like Meyers-Briggs are awesome when properly applied. It can be a great filter for screening potential growth experiences. Too often, such testing is reserved only for management, but there are plenty of free online tools to be used.

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