Athena Recommends: 11 Pro Tips for Professional Success
By Maggy Wilkinson, Chief Executive Officer
Morning check-in calls are your team’s best friend
Set regular time at the beginning of the day to share client updates, troubleshoot tasks, and establish action items. The idea is to keep these meetings brief yet productive. People working on projects that use them are less stressed. These morning calls allow teams to start each day in lockstep.
Recognize the importance of daily client communications and updates
With client deliverables, specifically those moving in the fast lane, it’s important to have clear and consistent lines of communication, oftentimes on the daily. Clients are trusting us with the project hand-off, so it’s imperative to ensure we do our part in keeping them informed on progress, and even sometimes setbacks. Keeping everyone updated and aligned is a way to maintain project momentum.
Ask yourself these three questions before presenting an idea during a client meeting: Does it make sense? Does it add value? Does it enhance big-picture understanding?
If your answer to any of these three questions is no, STOP. Clients take recommendations seriously. Ideas can quickly escalate to action items. With that in mind, be thoughtful with your contributions. If your idea doesn’t pass this quick stress test but you feel it has merit, get feedback from a team member before sharing it with the group.
In today’s world, most communication is written. But if you own a task, it’s often not enough to send an email or Teams message. Don’t underestimate the value of having a live conversation with a client or team member. It saves time and fuels productivity with the added benefit of building relationships.
Work buddies and standard protocols for sharing, saving and correcting work improve outcomes
Don’t be afraid to turn to a trusted peer as a sounding board or fresh set of eyes when working through a client deliverable or an important email. We’ve all been there; when you look at something for so long that you miss a typo or struggle to find the meaning in the message you’ve crafted. Get outside perspective to ensure that you are presenting well and making sense. We are a team first, last and always.
When in doubt, add structure
All successful meetings require a framework to organize the group’s thoughts and prevent participants from straying off topic. Providing clients with a proven structure also illustrates a team’s leadership and preparedness. Adding structure continues after the meeting ends, too. A detailed but concise summary is imperative to recap roles and responsibilities and will help you prepare for the next session.
Being adaptive is vital for your success (and sanity!)
Flexibility and agility will go a long way, especially with clients. Plans change. Projects get adjusted. React graciously and professionally.
Take note of the company lingua franca
Keep a page in your notebook, if you’d like, and jot down new terms to look up later. All clients have their own unique vernacular, from company acronyms to product names. Taking the time to learn a client’s verbal shorthand ensures that you can actively participate and immediately understand tasks.
Be open to giving and receiving feedback
This means being receptive to new ideas and different opinions. Often, there is more than one way of doing something and others may have a completely different viewpoint on a given topic. Just remember that it is useless and frustrating to receive comments on situations that are out of a person’s control. Feedback should focus on things that can change. Also, remember to avoid using the words “always” and “never.” People’s behavior is rarely that consistent. Make your feedback productive. Mention specific examples and outline alternative solutions whenever possible. The intention is always to help someone grow and improve. You may learn or teach something worthwhile.
Set intentions for the day and week
Use a few minutes to sit down with your own thoughts. Whether you use a notebook or Outlook Calendar, planning your time will help you stay on track and compartmentalize.
Remember that vision without execution is hallucination
This quote from Thomas Edison is one of my favorites. I love its meaning because without execution wonderful and inspired ideas would never see the light of day.
Looking for more ways to work smarter? Check out Christine Rudloff’s recommendations for hosting a productive brainstorm session HERE