All In or Just Passing Go? Getting Good Pays Off | Seinfeld Says

“Ho hum.” That’s too often the mantra about our jobs.

We do our work routinely, passing go, like in the Monopoly game, collecting our weekly paychecks, hoping our mundane job will one day turn into a thrill ride.

The fact is: We get from our jobs what we expect…of ourselves. What we put in determines what comes out.

When it comes to creating a long, satisfying career, each of us is accountable.

It’s not about the boss who won’t promote you or the company that doesn’t provide training or the coworkers who are duds. It’s about you:

  • the goals you set,
  • the quality of work you do,
  • the effort you make to build skills,
  • the risks you’re willing to take–like saying “yes” to new assignments or switching companies

The truth is:

Getting good brings you to a love of your work.

Achieve that and the payoffs are yours.

All in?

You know who the serious careerists are at work. You see them knuckling down and pounding out the work. They know what they want to get good at because that’s where their strengths and interests are. So they keep testing themselves, making “can do” their mantra.

Employees who come to work only to pass go are a drag on the organization. They perpetuate the status quo when success requires growth. Ho hum locks you in place..

Getting good

Our strengths are the starting point for getting good. By focusing on strengths that motivate you consistently, you can set goals that keep inching you toward the career success you want.

Comedian, Jerry Seinfeld, from the TV series and mega-hit, Seinfeld, is a case in point.

He appeared on the Mike and Mike in the Morning program on ESPN (January 30, 2014) for the first time. Co-host Michael Greenberg asked Seinfeld questions that led to insightful (not funny) answers.

First, Greenburg wanted to know why Seinfeld was still doing standup and other projects since he didn’t need the money:

 Anybody who’s ever good at anything is doing it because they love it…it’s a way of life for me, it’s not about the money…it feels like you’re using what you have.

Seinfeld spoke openly about how he struggled to become a good comedian. Performing on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson was his big moment: Succeed there or go up in flames. He had to be “all in” or else.

Seinfeld observed in successful baseball players that same commitment to being all in:

I admire anyone who is in love with their craft and their pursuit. People who kill themselves with the physical and prep side of the game…I want to see how they approach the game. The guys who put the mental work into the game.

Seinfeld recognizes that getting good means understanding how success is achieved:

Baseball is a beautiful model of how things happen…In football it’s hard for us to understand the formations and the play calls. In baseball we can see pretty easily what happened.

In our careers we need to see and understand what’s going on too–the politics of the workplace, the competitive environment, performance expectations, and the capabilities of our coworkers.

Being all in at work means being fully aware of what’s going on in our field of play.

Recommit.

Getting good is a commitment you build on for as long as you wish. Seinfeld recently launched a on-line video series, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. It’s an unscripted conversation that takes his comedian guests, as he says, “out of their packaging.”

Seinfeld  wanted to learn “how things happen” around internet programming, being fascinated by the idea that he could shoot a segment and then: “I can immediately put a show in your pocket.”

Once you know what “all in” feels like, it can take you places you never imagined.

All of us aren’t Jerry Seinfeld, but we’re either all in or just passing go in our careers. Now’s a good time to raise the volume on your “can do” mantra and recommit.

Employee Coaching: Reality or Just Talk? | A Wake-up Call

Careers are about growth. The better we become, the more options we’ll have. 

We expect our career growth to follow these steps: 

  • Take jobs that align with our skills and knowledge
  • Complete training on processes and technical requirements
  • Apply learned skills and knowledge
  • Implement performance feedback
  • Repeat these steps 

This is the “science” of career growth, but that’s only half of it. 

It’s the art of doing your job well that delivers lasting success. 

Training programs teach job mechanics and requirements for representative situations handled by “typical” employees who aren’t you. 

Your success is influenced by your work ethic, communications skills, interpersonal behaviors, values, and personality. These are your art. 

We need coaching 

Our supervisors (coaches) arrange our training to make sure we know how to play (do our work). While we’re in the game (our jobs), they watch to see how we do. As we play, they support, correct, encourage, reinforce, and direct. That’s coaching at work in an ideal world. 

Alas, the pity! In the real world, supervisors aren’t doing much employee coaching, using excuses like: 

  • It’s too time-consuming (or not worth the time).
  • Employees are uncomfortable with my individual attention.
  • I don’t have the skills (or the patience) to coach, so I’ll do more harm than good. 

It’s time to wake up and do what needs to be done. 

Without coaching, there’s floundering. 

The pace of our professional growth is a function of the amount and quality of coaching we receive. 

Employee productivity and morale flat-lines when we don’t grow. Supervisors with stagnant employees will deal eventually with eroding performance.  

Unbeknownst to some supervisors, it’s the employee who does the work associated with the coaching. The supervisor as coach provides support, encouragement, and direction in areas where employees aren’t performing “artfully.” The employee transfers the direction on how to improve from his/her “coach” to the job. 

Everyone wins when supervisors coach. 

Be systematic. 

Keep your coaching process simple, focusing on what the employee needs to do better to move forward. Remember: You’re coaching for career growth. 

Start by focusing initially on no more than 3 employees. 

  1. Schedule individual meetings and ask each employee to bring a list of 3 possible areas for coaching. Prepare your own list of three.
  2. Start by asking the employee  to share his/her list and the reasons behind the choices. Follow with your list and reasons.
  3. Agree on which areas will be addressed.
  4. Ask the employee what specific actions s/he will take to improve.
  5. Ask what kind of coaching support s/he will need from you. Agree on what’s reasonable.
  6. Identify how you will both know if there is improvement—measures, observations, feedback from others
  7. Establish a timetable for meetings (Put the employee in charge of scheduling and running future meetings.) 

If the employee is not committed to his/her own growth, then your coaching time is better invested in someone else. So don’t chase after employees showing no initiative. 

Even as you’re coaching these employees for growth, you’re still providing performance feedback, formally and informally, to all employees, intervening when there are performance problems. There’s no rest for the weary! But it’s all good.

Recognize achievement 

The best part of coaching is seeing the growth. By recognizing the employee’s successful efforts, you: 

  • Build self-confidence and sustain motivation to continue to grow
  • Encourage others to want to be coached
  • Start to build a culture of peer coaching and self-developing teams 

Recognition can be a hand-written note from you, a gift card, or a formal celebration with his/her team, depending on conditions. 

Make coaching a reality 

A lot of organizations give lip-service to coaching. Employees know when they’re being sold a bill of goods. If employees are told the company believes in coaching for growth, then deliver. 

I bet you’ve coached a child on how to tie his/her shoes or a friend on how to use a social media widget. Coaching isn’t rocket science; it’s support, direction, encouragement, and guidance. Not only can you do this, it’s your obligation. Done well, it becomes part of your legacy.

So please give coaching for employee growth your best effort. It’s personally satisfying and very good business.