It seems pretty straightforward when we thing about planning ahead. There are the outcomes we want to achieve and the activities that we need to make happen to get there. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about planning the next family holiday or a major piece or work, the end product and the things that need to happen to make sure we get there are what counts, right? Well, yes and no. They certainly do count, we all need something to aim at but what is often missing is thinking about how we will be when we are making those things happen.
There are two sides to this to my mind. How we are when we are undertaking the planning itself and how we will be when we are carrying out those activities that will ensure we get to where we want to get to. This all presupposes that we don’t work in complete isolation and that we have to engage with others to some degree or other. Let’s break these down.
How We Are When Planning
If we have complete control over what we’re going to go for and how we are going to get there and we’re going to be involving other people along the way we have to be happy adopting such a dictatorial approach. Is it how we want to come across to others? Is it how others expect us to come across? Is it necessary? Is it how we are used to operating?
All these questions can help us inform the way we will carry out the planning itself. Say it’s planning for a family holiday and you have small children. You might ‘involve’ the children by finding out where they’d like to go and what they’d like to do but at the end of the day it’ll be you (and your partner) who decide. Not quite being the dictator perhaps but involving but knowing what you want to do is often one end of a continuum (sound familiar in the workplace?) that stretches out to the complete involvement of others in decision-making.
So think about who you want to involve when planning ahead and how you want to engage them. Quite often those involved with putting the plan together will be involved with making it happen but not necessarily so. How will you engage with those who need to know about your plan once it’s in place?
How We Are When Implementing The Plan
The plan is in place and you’re ready to go. You know what you want to achieve and who is going to be involved in making it happen. How will you engage those people? This isn’t about whether you’ll send them objectives to achieve by e-mail or the allocation of resources to tasks. This is about how you will adjust your own style to fit the needs of the plan. Yes, if the overall outcome is important to you then it’s only right that you factor into the plan just how you will operate as an individual to ensure its success.
This might sound pretty scary at first but think about it for a minute. We all respond differently to different approaches from other people so it stands to reason that in order to achieve the best result we take this fundamental truth into account when dealing with others. This doesn’t of course mean that for each person we meet we should make a deliberate attempt to come across differently. What it does mean is that it makes sense to consider, from what we know of other people, how best to engage them. It doesn’t take long to add this extra piece of thinking to our days and interactions with others but, like anything new, it takes time to embed and become part of us. Give it time. Considering up front how we want to come across when being with other people and acting on it will gradually increase our repertoire.
What will be achieved by carrying out the activities in any plan is what it’s all about but how we are, how we interact with others and how we respond to challenges along the way as an individual is far too often overlooked. By building in how we want to be in any of these situations rather than relying on our tried and trusted default way of being means our personal interactions will become more effective and the ultimate objective of the plan has a better chance of being achieved.
Go on – give it a try.
© Paul Slater and Reflect & Lead, 2014.