Recently, I did a job adjustment, and before I left, I did some experience sharing and self-reflection with my team, as my farewell gift. After hearing about this, my colleague who did internal training at my old employer contacted me hoping that I could talk about my feelings before leaving my job (probably very few middle-aged people who have been working for ten years will talk openly to their superiors and subordinates about their lack or inadequacy, even if they are about to leave), so I have this article, and plan for the next year 2023. I hope that self-reflection can also provide some suggestions including but not limited to work habits, workplace mentality and self-planning.
The author’s past work experience are in the traditional mechanical industry, the thoughts and ideas will have certain limitations, but also please read critically, choose the good and from it.
When I first started working, I thought I was an optimistic and proactive person, but I never thought I could be so “introverted” at work: I would often get stuck there silently thinking and studying when I encountered a problem, and I would seem to be working very hard, but in fact I would not make any progress for several days, and I would only realize the seriousness of the problem when I was close to the delivery point, which eventually made me more and more anxious. It was only before the report that I confessed to my line leader that I could not handle a material and had no interim solution.
At this time, I was enlightened by the leader’s words: this task is not for you to complete alone, you have to learn to communicate with relevant parties and mobilize resources. In fact, I was not sure how to get the data in this material, but I believe I can get the list of people who can explain the data through the project manager.
After this incident, I understood the need for proactive communication: there is no shame in asking questions when you are not sure or do not understand something. Instead, you can use the shortest possible time to more in-depth understanding of the incident, rather than like me to the backlog of things in their own hands, hard to turn everyone’s work into their own problems. But before asking others questions, you also need to ask yourself to make a reasonable understanding and judgment from a self-professional perspective, rather than relying on others for everything.
For people in the workplace who often have to do reporting, it is always inevitable that other business-related parties will be involved. It is advisable to communicate with the relevant parties before reporting to senior leaders to avoid inconsistent information, misunderstanding and surprise, unless your intention is “surprise”. For example, when I want to report on the quarterly performance of each business unit, I need to communicate with the head of the worst and best performing business segment, so that I can calibrate whether the data I get is 100% correct on the one hand, and remind the head of the worst business to be ready to explain and plan for remediation on the other hand, and the head of the best business to confirm that their results are not watered down. This avoided the embarrassment and uncertainty that myself, the two of them, and management might encounter during the review.
With the increase of working time, the accumulated experience and technical ability grows day by day, and at the same time, there are more and more documents and data. How to effectively manage work content becomes a question to think about. I have many very detailed articles on specific document management methodologies and software that you can search for yourself.
I would like to raise a question of thinking habits: that is, is your own logic of work established? And this work logic is not limited to document management, but also reflected in task management, reporting logic, system learning. Ultimately, what you build up is your personal underlying thinking of how to manage workflow efficiently.
Document management is the most superficial and reflects the physical level of self-working logic.
I believe it is possible to create a reasonable set of classification rules either by timeline or by business discipline. For example, my own habit is to create first-level folders (local or network cloud disk) according to several business main lines, and each folder is named in the form of number + name + date (optional), while making each folder no more than three levels if possible to improve the efficiency of use. The name of each file is also in the form of version number + name + date, and the historical version is archived in time. That is, you clearly have to establish your own file management rules, and everything is tracked, rather than arbitrary piles and sets of folders.
Going a step further and going deeper into the documents and work content is task management. The way you manage tasks varies from person to person, from using various software to simply writing sticky notes and posting them all over your workstation, so you don’t have to stick to the type of method. For example, I myself did not study various tools, but simply to create an Excel to-do list, open every morning and evening to identify tasks and update progress. But it is important to clearly identify what is important, what is urgent, what is strategic thinking, and what is not urgent at the margins of your work. Here the overall planning strategy I recommend the use of Stephen Covey (Stephen Covey) in the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” given in the four categories.
Category 1: Important and urgent
Category 2: Important but not urgent
Category 3: unimportant but urgent
Category 4: unimportant and not urgent
Many important and urgent things can only be avoided if enough of the important but not urgent things are done. In the short term (e.g. within a week) or in the process of doing something specifically, I recommend the GTD method, namely Getting Things Done, which focuses on listing specific work items according to necessity and then completing them one by one in certain steps to ensure a clear work goal and avoid being disrupted.
The logic of external reporting
Once the internal document and task management is organized, you need to establish the logic for external reporting: clear data, clear status, and clear end-to-end. Also build up excellent presentation skills, such as building up your own reporting fixed style forms and PPT templates. If you’re not sure if you’ve done the above, I recommend using company, department or meeting-specific templates for anatomical learning.
Many people (including me at one time) are averse to the formatting requirements and rules and regulations for reporting: Isn’t it enough to make things clear? Why spend valuable energy on these cumbersome formats? I agree with the first half of this question. The pursuit of any report is to be able to explain the problem clearly and concisely, in fact, most of the work does not require a complex format, but most people, if not bound and standardized, the report presented is difficult for the reader or manager to catch the focus and perceive the logic of the report. This is why everyone likes to read beautiful reports and promotional pages, because they are all trimmed.
I disagree with the second half of the sentence because it is most efficient to follow the established format: because usually the template is polished and follows the logic of the specific report content, so that the individual can sort out their thoughts according to the template logic; and for the organization, the fixed template can unify the organization’s internal expression language and improve operational efficiency.
If the above work logic is all about operational habits, then it is even more important to establish a systemic thinking about problem solving, because these methodologies are applicable to multiple companies and are an important language that affects the whole industrial society.
For example, Six Sigma, 8D report, TBP (Toyota Business Practice, i.e. Toyota problem solving method, the refined version of PCDA), 4M1E (Man, Machine, Material, Method, Environment, i.e. Man, Machine, Material, Method, Environment), 5W1H (Why, What, Who, When, Where, How, etc.). When, Where, How that is why, what, who, when, where, how) and other problem-solving methods and ideas. If you work in the mechanical industry, then sooner or later you will encounter the problem solving ideas related to the above methodologies. And early to establish their own systematic problem-solving methodology, you can reduce the hesitation when encountering problems, systematize the action.
The ability to grow in the work you do is a central factor when choosing a company or a position, beyond the salary. But many times we are not always free to choose what we do or where we work. That’s why active self-management is such a rewarding habit.
We all have our own management style, and will also need to be flexible in different stages to adjust the management rhythm to achieve relaxation. Here are two points in particular that I would like to share.
Pay attention to the signal-to-noise ratio in work information: that is, pay attention to identifying those parts of your work that are beneficial to your core business as well as your personal growth.
Make good use of the work calendar: writing key tasks into the calendar not only reminds you of the need to complete them in a timely manner, but also allows you to reserve a specific portion of time to focus on that part of the work (analogous to the tomato clock).
Another clichéd topic, but its importance can only be appreciated if you have persevered.
The core essence of the review is to think about their past behavior and thinking at a specific pace, summarize the highlights or targeted improvement actions, so as to complete self-growth. For example, the author himself once tried to review, but the result is only to recall what they did a day, not only can not think of time wasted, but also only brought a sense of shame, so soon gave up.
Until a certain period of time when the subway commute and an industry senior and brother had the privilege to travel. Occasionally when talking about work, he would guide me to think about why this thing to do? How did it turn out? Why I failed to achieve a more ideal state? This kind of non-subordinate relationship of casual communication allows me to think about these issues without any pressure, thus bringing more dimensions of thinking and results.
After that, I gradually established a self-review journey: every day on the way home from work, I think about the day’s work important things about my own behavior whether there are outstanding or improper, if it involves how to improve will form a work note to review regularly. Each week, I set a specific half-hour to review the key progress and work notes for that week’s work, gradually forming a virtuous thinking and closed-loop improvement path. My own common three questions are as follows for reference: Is there anything worthy of deeper thought in today’s work? Which behavior of other people makes you think it is worth thinking about or avoiding? What good actions have you done that are worth persisting?
When discussing this topic with the editor, we were concerned about whether the content would be too chicken soup. But if I think it’s useful, what’s the harm of chicken soup? After all, this chicken soup is the experience of a person who has spent ten years in the workplace.
Once I had a dark moment in the last company, both the boss’s extremely demanding requirements, but also their own lack of ability and mentality problems. At that time, I once wanted to leave, but after careful consideration, I decided to make some changes: since the boss’s requirements are high, I might as well improve my own delivery standards; since I am not capable enough, I might as well try to learn; since my mentality is too weak, I might as well refine myself. I quickly became proactive after I figured this out: admitting my shortcomings, communicating problems in time, and working well ahead of the boss’s needs. In fact, thanks to the super standard delivery and serious attitude gained the favor of many other department leaders, but also for later career development down the foundation.
However, even after several years of work, I still have one or more imperfections, for example, I still care about management’s evaluation of myself, still need encouraging words to maximize my business ability; I still forget important but not urgent matters occasionally when I am overloaded with work. So now I wish someone could pour some nutritious chicken soup in my ears and remind me how to do it. Because the formation of habits needs to start in the present moment, and constantly polished, until internalized in every work. Otherwise, even if you have countless reflections when you leave for various reasons, you may still repeat the same mistakes in the next company.
To conclude, we need to leave our last position or company with the mindset of a good graduate, not a dropout, to be a mature workplace person.