Finding Your Fit: Don’t Forget You

The Forte Factor is focused on helping our clients discover, develop and live their strengths. This means equipping them with knowledge and tools to help them make informed decisions about what is the right fit for them. To do so requires intentional learning – learning who you are, understanding your strengths and passions and recognizing your liabilities. Having a better understanding of each of these pieces gives you the opportunity to get a more complete picture of yourself.

When you truly know who you are, what gets you excited, what you shy away from, what fires you up – that’s when you are fully capable of identifying the right fit for you in work and life. You’re better able to define happiness and success and work toward achieving it.

Kristin Allaben, Certified Greatness Zone Coach and COO, The Forte Factor

Kristin Allaben is an example of this approach to finding her fit. You may know her as a Certified Greatness Zone Coach and COO of The Forte Factor, but she followed an interesting path to get here.

Q: What did you go to school for?

I went to Bentley University and got my degree in Information Design and Corporate Communication with a minor in Psychology. I absolutely loved every class I took specific to my major and minor. I always looked forward to class, and never thought of homework or projects as work. I knew this is what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know what it could look like for a career until I stumbled on a PR internship and fell in love with the industry.

Q: What did you love about it?

The fast-paced days. The need to always be on and capable of thinking creatively and strategically. The need to be able to do things quickly and efficiently, to shift gears at a moment’s notice, if needed. The importance of being organized to ensure things always ran smoothly.

Q: What made you leave?

I worked at Schwartz Communications for the better part of my career and absolutely loved every moment of it. Sure, there were hard days – I certainly won’t pretend that’s not the case, just like at any job – but I was passionate about the work and was lucky enough to be able to take advantage of a number of opportunities there. I moved to a different agency shortly after the company was acquired and started to think about the future, beyond promotions and career status. My husband and I just bought a house and we were thinking family, dog, etc. I started to think the demanding role I was so passionate about might not allow for the future I had envisioned. So, I considered other options, including how I could keep doing PR but on a less demanding schedule. I took a job doing in-house PR, working for one company instead of managing multiple client engagements at a firm. It was perhaps the best move I made because it was most definitely a bad fit situation. It forced me to reflect on what it was that I loved about the PR world, and if it was something I really wanted to keep doing.

Q: How did you decide what to do next?

Believe it or not, I actually turned to The Forte Factor and took the Talent Assessment. I felt like I had been so focused on moving my career forward that I needed to reconnect with myself, to be sure I was staying true to what I really loved to do and what I was really good at. That last part played a big role in every decision I made from that point forward. I had forgotten to combine what I loved to do with what I was good at.

Q: When did you discover that your calling was doing something else? What did you do about it?

The work I did to reflect and reintroduce myself to me helped me realize something big. One of my greatest strengths is organization. Working in the PR world, organization was critical to ensure clients showed up to where they needed to be on time, and that you never forgot the key details from any conversation you had, among other things. But often, my organization became a joke. I was often told that my need to keep things organized kept me too bogged down, preventing me from being truly strategic or creative, and that it would hinder my opportunity to grow any further. And that’s when I realized that I needed to find something that combined my talents (being organized, being focused) with my passion (helping people, communication, telling stories).

And that’s when I discovered being a Coach was the right fit for me. This, combined with my role as the COO at The Forte Factor, brings together so many of my strengths, talents and passions.

Q: Who are your role models?

I have a variety of role models for different reasons. Though I know it’s cliché to highlight my parents as role models, they really are. My Mom is a huge role model; she raised my sisters and me as a single mother and somehow we all made it out alive (and each of us credit her for the independent women we have become). I look at my Dad as a role model who bravely followed his true self and made big decisions to be happy in work and life. I see my kids as role models because they remind me that feeling every emotion is ok and good, and they remind me that life goes by too fast to worry about the small things (all the time). And my husband because he consistently amazes me with the ability to balance an extremely high-demanding and stressful job with being an amazing husband and father, and making it look easy.

Q: What is one thing you are still working on that you know you can do better?

I’m quick to judge and quick to react. I’m working hard to remember to respond instead of react, and I’ll be the first to admit it’s a work in progress! Some days, it comes much easier than others.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who may not feel like they’re in the right fit job or position in life? What can they do to find their right fit?

Take some time to get to know you. Reflect on the things that are working right now and the things that aren’t. Are there areas where you feel stuck? Why do you feel that way? Are there areas where you are genuinely happy? Why? Reintroduce yourself to you. You’ll be amazed what you can uncover.

Could you benefit from some life coaching? Contact us to get started with a free, 15-minute introductory call.

Consider reading Are You The Great Pretender?

Return to the Blog

Stop Managing and Start Coaching

By Jay Forte

When I ask people to describe a coach, responses include words like “encouraging,” “connected,” “interested,” “supportive,” and “committed.”

And when I ask people to describe their managers, most of the responses include words like “boss,” “distant,” “intimidating,” “disconnected” and “challenging.”

Yikes.

If this is what most people think of their managers, how effective are these managers when it comes to activating employee engagement and exceptional performance?

We’ve transitioned from an industrial economy to a service economy, meaning that more employees work directly with customers. Successful organizations know that no two customer-facing situations are exactly the same. As a result, employees need to be tuned in and actively thinking to maximize the service experience for customers.

With a manager who coaches – engages employees into more discussions, sets clear performance expectations, provides recurring performance feedback and helps navigate career and skill development – employees can take ownership of their performance and, as a result, have greater motivation to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

The goal of shifting from managing to coaching is to activate greater achievement and performance. So how can managers shift from the outdated manager mindset to one of coaching? Here are four areas to focus on.

  1. Connect. The starting point for all great coaching is awareness of what makes employees unique and the ability to know how to connect with employees to build a rapport. This includes acknowledgement (taking the time to really hear what employees say) and validation (understanding and respecting their thoughts and feelings). The value in this, other than treating your people like people, is that the more employees feel heard, the more they share.
  2. Engage. Managers traditionally tell more than they ask. By gaining the skill of asking empowering questions, managers not only gain insight into every aspect of the business, but it also activates employees’ thinking.
  3. Guide toward solutions. Once you get your employees thinking by the use of great questions, help them learn to solve more creatively by guiding them to imagine and brainstorm. Help them learn to invent several options to each challenge or situation instead of waiting for your solution. By encouraging employees to imagine new solutions, you help them grow, feel valuable, feel heard and, ultimately, become part of the solution.
  4. Guide toward achievement. Summarizing and bottom-lining help employees move their ideas into action. Using questions like, “What is best option and what is best way to implement it?” or, “Which ideas do you feel get to the best solution and how should it be implemented?” are examples of summarizing and bottom-lining.

What it all comes down to is this: before you can activate the performance power of your employees, you have to be able to connect with them and engage them. This encourages active thinking to find new solutions they can achieve with a greater sense of ownership.

A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn in February 2017.

 

Consider reading Do You Know Your Employee’s Engagement Language?

Return to the Blog

How to Deliver Employee Feedback That Gets Heard

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

Most managers think their role is to fix, to watch for areas where their employees miss the mark and correct that behavior. Though this is certainly a component of being a manager, the more critical and meaningful responsibilities of a manager are to guide, support, develop and coach employees into significant or greater performance. If your communication is primarily critical or corrective – instead of supporting, encouraging and empowering – you risk disengaging your employees. They’ll just tune you out.

So how can you get your employees to hear you, regardless of whether you’re sharing supportive or corrective feedback?

Here are my top 3 tips on how to deliver feedback in an intentional manner to ensure employees hear you.

  1. Be present. You can’t offer feedback – supportive or corrective – if you have no idea what’s going on. Most of us only notice things when they go really wrong, which means we’re clearly missing the things that go right – prime opportunities to provide supportive feedback or applause. Tune in. Pay attention. You can’t guide, support and coach without the facts.
  2. Make feedback only about behaviors. Feedback should only be information about how someone acts or acted, not who someone is. You may be upset about the actions of your employee, but that doesn’t make them bad, horrible or awful. Reconnecting to, activating and developing employees’ core strengths is the purpose of powerful supportive or corrective feedback. Venting is unproductive.
  3. Deliver feedback in a way the other person will understand. Feedback has two parts: content and delivery. Be sure both of these align to who is receiving the feedback. Technical explanations to someone non-technical or raising your voice to someone who is timid and shy will guarantee you won’t be heard. Choose what to say and be intentional in how you say it.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. What type of feedback do you typically provide to your employees?
  2. In what ways can you change your approach to providing feedback to ensure your content and delivery is appropriate for the employee you’re speaking with?
  3. How will you inspire and engage employees with well-delivered feedback?

 

Consider reading Succeeding at Difficult Conversations

Return to the Blog

 

This is a modified version of the full article, which originally appeared on Jay’s LinkedIn page, December 2015.

RSS feed
Connect with us on Facebook
Connect with us on LinkedIn