Do You Want To Be Remembered For Your Photocopying?
What do you want to be remembered for after you've left an organisation?
One senior leader told me a story of getting feedback on one of his team members, let's call him Bill, who was quiet and did not interact much with his colleagues. It was hard to find people to give input for his performance review. The leader asked one colleague for feedback and the only thing this colleague could remember about Bill was that he seemed to use the photocopier for ages many days. So, the total feedback, for a year of Bill's performance, from this colleague was:
How would you feel if that was someone's feedback on you? It might be quite complimentary if directed to the actual photocopier, but doesn't feel very impressive when describing a person. If that was the only perception of someone by their colleagues then when they leave an organisation this could be how they are remembered – if they are remembered at all.
This story came to my mind when I heard Paul Marsh of Lightbulb give a great talk on goals to the Windsor CIPD Group. I won't attempt to duplicate all of Paul's enthusiasm, knowledge and fun in this blog post, and would highly recommend him as a speaker. One idea he shared was that the best goals relate to achievements which people will remember after we leave an organisation. It made me think that I've met a lot of goals, but the list of achievements which former colleagues can quickly remember is probably a lot shorter. Too much of our daily work can be around ticking boxes and completing tasks which, many years on, no-one will really care about. Shouldn't our daily work be about building to something special and memorable? Which way would you like a former colleague to describe you:
“Sally completed her tasks to the target level and agreed date and time, and within the expected thresholds for our organisational value system. She used the available resources in an appropriate manner.”
“Sally was amazing. When Project X was getting everyone down, and we thought we would fail, she pushed through a rescue plan. That saved our group, and really helped the company.”
As a coach I often do visualisation exercises with clients on what success looks and feels like in the future. By thinking about the legacy we will leave others when we move onto something new people tend to think in more bold and emotional terms, and ignore the buzzwords and bureaucracy which sometimes fills corporate goals. It takes time to create something truly memorable, but is worth the effort. What can you do today which builds to something people will remember warmly in the future?
About The Author
Alasdair Graham is the founder of Apex Discovery and a coach who helps leaders and businesses grow. If you found this blog post useful then please share it.