It is important to stay connected with your colleagues even if they have moved on to different parts of your company or to other companies. You never know when you will be in a position to help a colleague or they will be able to give you career or business advice. It is much easier to have shared benefits if you have both stay connected. Now everyone is busy but if you set yourself a goal to stay in touch twice a year, once by email and once in person, there will be a continuity in the relationship. There will also be a sincere appreciation for your proactiveness and follow-through.
There are important people in your work and personal life and there are people who are not as important to you. You can proactively choose where to spend your time and energy. At the end of the day you are in control of how you spend your time and whom you spend it with. There is a spectrum from having your time be determined for you by accepting meeting invites and invitations you receive to proactively setting up meetings and extending invitations to those that are important to you. For work there is value in creating “People Maps” where you lay out the influential and impactful people to and from you. This can be a helpful tool in helping decide where and with whom to focus your energy.
There is a wide world of new and different thinking out there just waiting for you to find it. Don’t assume that the bubble that you live and work in introduces you to all the concepts that might benefit you. Reach out to different types of media to stay up on current issues that may effect you, impact your opinion, help you see a new POV or simply learn about something innovative. The information that is at your fingertips is staggering and by exploring it you are guaranteed to discover something new.
It is important to be plugged in enough at work to know the political landscape so you are aware of the backstory and what if anything it means for you. Knowing which way the wind is blowing, who is in favor and what is important to them is being heads up. It is up to you to choose what role in the political landscape you choose to take (initiator, conspirator, advisor, player, etc). The important thing is that you are connected enough to know what is happening, in what timeframe and how it is likely to affect you. By being plugged in enough to know the scene, you will be able to navigate the waters better.
What do you do when there is an opportunity to give a presentation but you have worked with colleagues on the project? My suggestion is to share as much of the spotlight as possible. It is important for all team members to hear how the project was received, what was the feedback and how it can be improved. What are ways that you can involve your teammates? You can co-present with your colleagues. You can ask one of your colleagues, managers or project sponsors to kick off the presentation. You can invite other teammates to the meeting or if there are too many for the room to accommodate, you can have additional team members join by phone. By involving everyone in the readout you can solidify the team, ensure everyone can participate and absorb the feedback whether it be good or bad, give visibility to management on who was involved and have the best opportunity to answer all questions on the spot.
If you are presenting, it is best for you to sit across the table from the key members you are presenting to. When you are in meetings and not presenting, it is still important to be visible. If you are in a meeting but not presenting still try to sit across from the high level managers in the room in order to make sure you can make eye contact. In a larger presentation, sitting up in front is best. In this way your presence will be noted and you will be able to focus and interact in an unobstructed way.
This is a small thing but pays big dividends. During meetings and conversation, make eye contact with the person talking to ensure you are catching the full meaning. Since everyone doesn’t watch their colleagues when they are speaking, the presenter may focus more of their attention on you. This can also elevate your importance in the meeting and make it easier for you to interact with the presenter. You will get more out of your interactions and your colleagues will appreciate the engagement.
When you are in meetings, it is good to get in the habit of taking notes for yourself. This is another way to stay engaged and interactive. It makes sure you capture any follow-up action items and key points of interest. If you have your own notes, you do not need to rely on anyone else to recap the meeting. You may find your notes handy to review when summarizing your weekly highlights in your 1:1s. However, don’t get assigned the role of “official note taker” for meetings because you want to make sure you are available to participate fully.
It is good to reflect upon the positive contributions from others on your team and what impact they have had. It is even better to share your reflections publically. Every year one of my previous bosses would gather his full team together and publically acknowledge each individual’s key accomplishments. This was doubly impressive because the team was quite large and he would not use any notes. He felt it was very important to know what each team member contributed and to share each individual’s success and what he valued about them with the full team. Not only did this form of recognition make each employee feel special and appreciated, all the other team members learned more about their colleagues, gained more respect for their peers and became a tighter knit team.
In this world of electronic communication, a handwritten thank you note with a few words of appreciation really stands out and makes an impact. By taking just a few minutes to write your thoughts down to thank others for their effort, leadership, hard work, dedication, time or gift, you will be able to deliver a powerful message. The effort will be remembered and can make a difference.