What is your top priority at work?

“Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.” ―Robin Sharma

Anyone trained as first-aider will most certainly remember the acronym “DR ABC”. Far from detailing the basics on rescuing a casualty, I am rather interested in the first component of the acronym which means danger. As a first-aid trainee, I learned that you should first and foremost keep yourself safe before considering rescuing the casualty. When I first heard about this, I was shocked as it sounded selfish to look after you first while someone’s life was in danger. But I soon learned that by not properly assessing such risk, it could bear serious consequences of you ending up as another casualty. Imagine that you were the only person at the scene. Who would rescue who?

The point we want to make is for people to look at one of the key or even the most untapped source of self-motivation at work. This motivator alone not only contributes to the overall organisational success but importantly helps staff to raise their self-leadership profile. Your annual appraisal is right where you find your source of motivation. The question one wonders is ‘how to turn your appraisal objectives into your self-advantage?’

Before answering to the above question, you will first need to ask yourself the following fundamental questions: Who am I as a person? What is my purpose in this organisation? What is my contribution to the organisation? What am I gaining from this organisation beside money? Remember, of all candidates who applied for your position, you were the specific person they considered hiring. You would have impressed your employer surely enough to particularly consider your application. You should therefore identify the real value you are adding to the organisation through your specific potentials translated in your skills, experience and knowledge. You should always ask yourself: “What is My Unique Selling Point?”

Once you have been able to answer to these fundamental questions, you can then achieve your assigned organisation’s objectives with clarity. When you are clear with the above key questions on your purpose, you will be able to not only focus on the objectives, but achieve them with great satisfaction. Whatever good we do in life, there must be something linking to our main purpose. Whatever we do enables us to develop the right skills that take us closer to our destiny. That is why the main focus should be on you rather than on the objectives assigned to you. Remember, your purpose is stronger than the objectives. No obstacle can resist to a purpose-driven person.

“Income seldom exceeds personal development.” ―Jim Rohn

You can discover or match your life goal by working on your appraisal objectives. Here is the main question you should ask yourself: “What kind of person shall I become upon achieving my appraisal objectives?”
Focusing on YOU makes a whole difference. Focusing on YOU brings another dimension to the way you perceive your objectives at your workplace. These objectives become meaningful to you because of the personal advantage you draw from achieving them. The personal benefits can be immense when you work smartly on these objectives. Remember that the personal benefits from focusing on your personal development will motivate you above any financial reward attached to your work performance.

I know some will disagree with this view on the financial reward we get from any job we undertake. In fact, many are constantly after a better salary switching from one job to another, sometimes caught up in the so called ‘rat race’ and yet remaining insatiable. To help you feel at ease about the financial reward equation, here is a question you can ask yourself: “How much worth or valuable will I become upon achieving my objectives?” You have no monetary price to tag on YOU. You’re worth more than what you think you are. YOU are priceless. Since you will be in pursuit of a priceless goal that is YOU, you will be more excited and motivated to work harder in order to achieve that goal. Focusing on how valuable you become, will eventually push you to excitingly achieve your objectives with added value to both you and the organisation or company you work for.

The majority of people are eager to learn. According to a study from the City & Guilds Group as quoted by The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) that 76% of the workforce believe in the importance of continuously upgrading their workplace skills. Even though less than half (46%) according to the same study are getting the appropriate support from their employers to develop their skills. These people recognise personal development as a non-financial benefit. These same people are ready to invest time and energy to achieve their goals.

To tap into such source of self-motivation, you will need to look into your annual appraisal objectives. Rather than being a burdensome task, you should carefully read your job description first, review your previous objectives and identify areas for improvement. Before attending your annual objective setting meeting, please ensure you prepare yourself by writing down how creatively you should achieve such or such objective. Here is a question to consider: “How should I make such objective more exciting?” “What extra things that will stretch me enough to achieve this objective?” In other words, you should consider either doing things different things or doing things differently.

Remember that the objective setting session – as any other one-to-one meeting like supervision or appraisal – should be considered as YOUR moment with YOUR agenda. Your line manager should only facilitate it. In other words, you should co-produce with your line manager. You should have a say on your objectives rather than being a passive receptacle. Proactively preparing for your objectives gives you ownership and enables you to identify what matters for you the most: ‘Personal Development Plan’ (PDP).

When setting your PDP, you should strategically and carefully think of any learning opportunity that will not only help you meet your objectives but more importantly add value on YOU as a person. At this point, ask yourself: What is my long term aspiration? How do I see myself in 3, 5 or even 10 years? Here is the secret: the more you become a person of value, the more you become a sought after person. The more attractive you become, the rare you are. The rare you are the more respectable you will be. There is always a high price attached to a beautifully shaped rare diamond. Isn’t it? Remember, there is no price tagged on a very precious gem that YOU are. YOU are priceless.

Once you discover and learn the benefit of turning the focus on YOU rather than on the objectives, you won’t need an alarm clock to wake you up every morning. Neither will you need a push from your line manager to achieve your objectives. And once it’s time for you to move on eventually, you will leave a lasting impression at your workplace. And your team will be a better place than when you joined it. This is what is expected from every leader.

Turning your PDP to your self-advantage should be your priority. There is nothing wrong about it. Think of looking at a group picture where you are in. Whether it’s a family, friends’ or a team photo… who should you pay the most of your attention at? You will certainly spend almost 99.5% of your time looking at YOU. Won’t you? It’s quite humanly natural to concentrate on you first. There is no sense of selfishness here. Even the most senior staff in your organisation like the CEO has something beneficially personal they want to achieve and that motivates them to come to work.

By focusing on you, your self-actualisation needs will certainly be met. The more you concentrate on your self-actualisation, the lesser will your priority be put on the lower segments of Maslow’s Pyramid. The more you become a person of value the more other physiological and safety needs will eventually be met. This investment on oneself is a key factor contributing to immense gratification – however delayed – to meeting other essential needs such as the financial ones. With your self-motivation you can be the only person in your team or organisation they can entrust with an important project or even select for a promotion.

Here are other questions to talk you through the process:
• How do I customize or personalise my appraisal objectives in relation with my PDP?
• What learning opportunity will I consider while achieving these objectives?
• Would it be a formal or informal learning activity? A training course, coaching, mentoring, shadowing, secondment, reading, conference, webinar, any extra-professional activity? Think of anything however little, that can shape you and sharpen your skills.

Developing yourself isn’t a burden task per se. it’s rather a big motivator when taking it seriously right. There is a lot of benefit staff should concentrate on their PDP in order to impact both on their performance, wellbeing and future career. Your self-development is the only investment that will transform and make you become a person of value. You are priceless. Of course, you are a gem.

ILM, What Must Leaders Do To Bridge The UK Skills Chasm, https://www.institutelm.com/resourceLibrary/what-must-leaders-do-to-bridge-the-uk-s-skills-chasm.html