Learning from others - and learning to say no

Suzanne Wheatley reviews her personal objectives and achievements for the third quarter of 2012 and shares some lessons learned.

Page 1 of 2 next >>

Practising saying 'no'

Learning how to say no really is a valuable skill in the workplace. It's a skill that needs to be practised and finely tuned. Whilst very difficult to do when faced with a demanding client, manager or colleague, how much better would it be to explain that something is not possible rather than to say yes and then leave them with an unrealistic expectation of what is going to happen? Saying no but then proposing an alternative option or deadline not only shows you are listening and understanding the importance of what they're asking but that you are managing both your and their expectations by ensuring a realistic timescale.

It can also introduce you to the world of delegation, but perhaps that's best saved for another article. But what you learn in the workplace can be used to great effect outside the office and vice versa. This summer certainly brought home to me the importance of that first 2012 objective of finding balance, of making sure that it's quality not quantity that works best.

"Perhaps learning the art of saying 'no' is something I should've done a while back"

I'm always delighted to write articles as I am to play the oboe but back in the summer, the latter got the better of me. I normally have a good sense of when to say yes and no and of not overloading myself. But being so eager to be part of a great season of music (yes, it really was 'a summer like no other'), I said yes to various orchestras and found myself rehearsing or performing in concerts most nights in June and July.

Needless to say, it all got a bit much. I should've simply accepted that I can't do everything, that the initial disappointment of letting someone down is nothing compared to, potentially, having to call in sick on concert day and having to find someone to deputise for you. Luckily for me it didn't quite come to that but there was a significant knock-on effect in both time and well-being.

Refreshing training and procedures

This quarter seems to have been the one for learning and of looking at oneself honestly to see what is and isn't working. We have taken on a new graduate here at Sue Hill Recruitment which has seen us prepare a detailed induction and training plan. This has been a great opportunity for us to get stuck in to reviewing the way we do things, our procedures and manuals. It has also kicked us into doing some refresher training for the whole team and this in turn has uncovered new ways of working, of approaching problems and finding new solutions. Yes, it does sometimes mean holding up your hand and saying "I should've followed up x so we wouldn't be doing y this way" but accepting past mistakes is the best way to making sure you approach tasks with an open mind.

We all make mistakes and I feel fortunate to work with a fantastic bunch of people who essentially say "yes, I see what you did there, how do we fix it?" This positive and understanding attitude creates a culture where no-one is afraid to put up their hand. One thing I've learned over the years is that procedures should always be reviewed. It's really effective to work in an environment where this is practiced by everyone otherwise we get set in stone, become inflexible and thus no use to anyone.

Page 1 of 2 next >>