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Time to U.P.G.R.A.D.E.

April 8, 2011
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To get to the next level in your management skills, you must upgrade, says contributing columnist Jeff Dearduff. Find out how to enhance the way you do business just by making a few minor adjustments.




To get to the next level in your management skills, you must upgrade. You must improve policies, advance procedures and raise the bar. You must enhance the way you do business in order to continue doing business.

Here, I have taken the term, “upgrade,” and tweaked to relate it to our industry and discipline.

For instance, the “U” stands for Understanding. In order to increase our knowledge of this business, the people and the tasks at hand, we need to spend more time trying to understand the important stuff and let the small stuff go. Find ways to learn something new today. So many times we get caught up chasing what turns out to be insignificant items and old junk, and sometimes we’re just chasing ghosts. We need to find ways to spend some quality time learning the next best way to do, say or explain something better. When understanding becomes sharing to those around you, you will be regarded as a better manager and communicator.

The “P” stands for Plus, which means “what can you bring to the situation that adds value?” You know what you know, but sometimes others don’t. When you see something happening around you, find a way to insert yourself in a helpful way so that the situation becomes less of a problem to those around you. You must be careful not to come off as a know-it-all, but it’s possible to help without turning people off. It’s all about delivery.

The “G” stands for Give. You can be a go-getter or a go-giver. In our workplace, there are so many people who need help learning the next new thing. As a manager, it is your responsibility to be the giver. Don’t be selfish with your knowledge. Pay it forward by sharing your knowledge upfront and allowing people to absorb, apply and eventually re-teach. Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-American industrialist, businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist, said people can “get rich by making others rich.” How can you implement that philosophy with a giving spirit?

The “R” stands for Relate. This is all about relationships. As a manager, mentor or leader in some other capacity, you gain more ground when you make the relationship with a colleague or direct report a high priority. We sometimes face situations where we have to work with someone who has a work ethic or talent level that doesn’t quite meet our personal standards. We can’t let that get in the way of making progress on the task at hand; we are all being paid to complete it, no matter how large or small it may be. The “R” can also stand for Respect, because when you have this in mutuality, you can be more productive and successful.

The “A” stands for Adjust. Nothing in this world successfully happens without some level of adjustment during the course of the deployment of a task.

Peyton Manning, the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, is the ultimate plan adjuster. What has become the norm in Colts football is actually the constant execution of adjustment, or “calling the audible” as they say. He never comes to the line and runs the play exactly as called in the huddle. He looks over the defense and then steps back and adjusts the play, sometimes slightly and other times completely. Their winning record proves that adjustments work. In your line of work, don’t be afraid to step back, survey the situation and make slight or complete changes to ensure the task will be successful.

The “D” stands for Discipline. No, not handing out punishment, rather this definition of discipline means the ability to control one’s self and their actions in times of stressful situations. Having the discipline to follow-through on the commitment when everything around you seems to be in turmoil is the mark of a true professional. If you let the stress get to you, you can make poor decisions that can cause a bad situation to become worse. Sometimes acquiring the internal discipline to handle stressful situations requires a person to go outside their comfort zones and seek help on organizing thoughts, making decisions and controlling tempers. If you want to go to the next level in your management development, you must find a way to have the discipline to handle any situation that comes up.

The “E” stands for Execute. Now we can bring this all home. Execution is one of the easier things to understand and sometimes the toughest to carry out. Everything requires execution to get positive results. You can’t understand something better if you don’t reach out and give a wholehearted try. You can’t add value to a situation if you stand back and watch. You can’t be a giver if all you want to do is receive. You won’t have a team if you don’t relate to others. If you stick to your guns and are not willing to shift course, you could shoot yourself in the foot, and if you don’t have the internal discipline to handle the stresses of the daily workload, you could actually get physically sick.

On this Transatlantic flight we call our careers, we will land at our destination in better health, mind and spirit when we spend a little extra time upfront and U.P.G.R.A.D.E.

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