July 16


Pace & Productivity: When Faster and More Isn’t Always Better

By Sara Canaday

July 16, 2012

blind spots, career, leadership, professional development, reputation, self-awareness

sara canaday pace productivityWhat’s your personal workday pace and productivity? Maybe it’s slow and steady or blazingly fast. For you, it’s normal. And what’s your capacity to learn, retain and interpret data? Would you consider it average? Or do some people think you have a photographic memory? Perhaps the bigger question is: what’s normal for your team? Especially if you are a manager, it’s critical to recognize that everyone in your office isn’t working at exactly the same speed and doesn’t necessarily share your performance capacity. Without that awareness, we tend to use our own individual levels as the benchmark or standard for those around us. And that usually leads to unrealistic expectations and frustrated co-workers.

One of my clients named Laura is a perfect example of this concept. Laura always seemed happiest burning the candle at both ends. She was known for pushing herself toward “impossible” goals, meeting deadlines and expectations that gave her a “Wonder Woman” reputation. Besides that, she made it look effortless.

After achieving impressive success in the medical cost containment field, she started her own company and began to attract top professionals who wanted to work on her team. For employees, working with Laura was a shiny jewel in their career crowns. They were learning from the best in the business. But they wanted to impress Laura, so they were always trying to keep up with her seemingly limitless drive to keep clients happy by working crazy hours and performing regular “miracles.” Laura suffered from Dust in My Wind syndrome—a professional blind spot in which she couldn’t really grasp the idea that her full-throttle capacity was not the norm.

Laura honestly believed she worked at a normal pace and that most of her peers and colleagues could have the same capacity if only they tried. In reality, her staff members were giving their full effort (and then some) but still struggling to keep up with Laura’s workload expectations and production schedule. The pressure made many of them feel high-strung, volatile, and much less composed — virtual powder kegs of unmitigated stress.

Should Laura lower her standards or stop pushing for greater productivity? Definitely not. But she did have to accept and apply the counterintuitive idea that matching the pace and capacity of her staff could actually generate better performance, not to mention stronger relationships and more effective teamwork. If you might suffer from Dust in My Wind syndrome, there are some practical steps you can take to make life better for everyone on your team.

• Consciously slow down and watch for stress signals among your colleagues that indicate your light, breezy work pace is being perceived as hurricane-force winds.

• Take the time to recognize the unique gifts and talents of each individual who participates on your team (and recognize that they can best make those contributions at their own pace).

• Show your human side. Chances are, your co-workers may think of you as a results machine with a one-track mind. Make yourself more relatable by sharing something unexpected—a personal story or even details about a missed opportunity.

To learn more about Dust in My Wind syndrome and other professional blind spots, I invite you to read my new book: You -– According to Them: Uncovering the blind spots that impact your reputation and your career. (www.YouAccordingToThem.com)

Sara Canaday

About the author

Sara began her journey working full-time while she earned an MBA. As she climbed the ladder of corporate America, she repeatedly observed a surprising phenomenon: the most successful people weren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQ or best job skills. She recognized instead that career advancement was much more closely linked with how people applied their knowledge and talents — their capacity to collaborate, communicate, and influence others.

Today, Sara is happily fulfilling that commitment as a keynote speaker, author, and executive coach. These venues have given her the opportunity to mentor and support thousands of people in diverse situations, inspiring many of them to move from insight to action with dramatic career results.

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