7 Ways to Improve Your Personal Effectiveness

August 31, 2023 Britney Cole

Personal effectiveness includes skills, behaviors, and attitudes that help with job performance and contribute to organizational success. This was the focus of a recent webinar I conducted with Betty Dannewitz, one of our amazing solutions architects who also happens to be one of the most creative people I know. Together we explored self-awareness, task prioritization, adapting to new situations, and bouncing back from setbacks.

Betty and I discussed the importance of realizing your strengths to be more effective and emphasizing the need to take intentional action. Together with over 400 leadership, learning, and talent development professionals from around the world, we looked at different strategies people could employ to increase their personal effectiveness. Seven main themes emerged.

Know Yourself

It's important for each of us to know ourselves, including our natural tendencies, habits, priorities, and triggers. While Betty and I agreed that triggers could be a topic on its own, we really focused on how to better prioritize.

A simple activity to help you really know your priorities (all of them!) is to create a three-dimensional pie chart using a paper plate. In front of you, you can see where your time and money are spent. This can give you some needed insight on the things you say are important vs. the things that actually are.

Challenge Assumed Constraints

Next, we discussed the importance of identifying and challenging assumed constraints that get in the way of achieving goals. We examined how to differentiate between real constraints and those that might be only assumed. This often includes the stories you tell yourself, such as not having enough time, resources, or influence. We explored how you can begin letting go of assumed constraints by writing them down and reframing them.

Know What You Need

To have honest conversations with others and show up in the best way at work, you must be able to not only express how you bring value to an experience but also acknowledge the triggers that might diminish your contribution. Betty and I shared ways to discover your personal superpower and explored how small actions such as self-care, reflection, and journaling can contribute to greater self-awareness.

Revisit Values and Identify Needs

Revisiting values annually can be uncomfortable for some, but it is a necessary step for aligning your actions with your values. Your values should drive your priorities and goals. It's crucial to communicate your needs to your partner, leader, and peers, focusing on what you need to thrive, not merely survive.

Be Intentional

Being intentional is not just about writing in a planner or making lists. It involves being clear about what you're going to do (and then doing it), saying “no” to requests or projects that don't align with your values or goals, and taking time to think things through. It also means owning your calendar and being discerning about meetings, being accountable for your actions, and assuming responsibility instead of staying quiet.

Eliminate Distractions

Finally, Betty and I zeroed in on how to eliminate distractions. Seemingly urgent demands can cause us to misalign goals and priorities and distract us from what truly matters. Saying "no" is a positive trait of intentional individuals who filter their thinking before making decisions.

We shared three questions that can help you determine if something is a priority or distraction. If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” it’s not a clear priority and should be moved to the bottom of your to-do list.

  • Is it of clear importance?
  • Are you motivated to do it?
  • Is it a clear now (and the window closes forever if you say “no”)?

Personal Effectiveness Means Moving from Surviving to Thriving

Personal effectiveness begins by identifying needs and taking intentional actions to meet them. It means avoiding overwhelming additional tasks and focusing on one need at a time.

Betty and I pointed out a quote from Blanchard Institute Executive Director Terrell Fletcher: “You can do it all—but not all at once." One step at a time is the best way to set boundaries, prioritize, and avoid burnout.

You can learn more about what we covered by accessing the free recording of the webinar.  Also, consider taking a look at the Blanchard Community—it’s a free online space where those who love leadership can learn, collaborate, and grow with each other. 

And for those delivering Blanchard programs, the Blanchard Practitioners Hub is a gated group where practitioners can seek guidance on facilitation skills, technology in learning, delivering leadership development training, and overcoming common issues and concerns. Learn more about the Practitioners Hub here.

About the Author

Britney Cole

Britney Cole is Chief Innovation Officer and the Head of the Blanchard Innovation Lab and Experience Center. She creates an atmosphere of excitement and forward-thinking for clients who want to rethink what it truly means to unleash the potential and power in people and organizations for the greater good.

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