Sometimes it’s incredibly easy to tell if you’ve achieved your goal. If it’s measurable, if it’s concrete, or if it’s a binary yes/no outcome, then you will just know. You either get the promotion, or you don’t.
A lot of the time, you’ll want to work on something that isn’t easily measured. It can be anything from improving your presentation skills, to expanding your emotional literacy. What can you do to understand this growth and progression, without being stuck in an “I’ll know it when I see it” hole.
Self-Reflection – Do the thing you want to get better at. Have a tough conversation or give that presentation. Afterwards, write down what went well and where you felt there were areas to improve. Focus on those areas, do it again and repeat the cycle. This is great for understanding the things that you can see and recognise, and an excellent resource to take into a coaching discussion.
Feedback – Gather thoughts from a trusted partner. Sit them in the audience, then ask them what was the best moment of the presentation, and what was the weakest. This opens you to the views of others and lets you close down your blind-spots.
Surveys – In a leadership position, you might be lucky enough to benefit from the results of regular engagement surveys, or you may be able to run these following a particular interaction. These are sources of large sets of feedback with an aggregate view. The aggregation is key here. Don’t get hung up on outliers or single comments, but look for themes and trends to measure improvement.
Recognition – If you are the go-to person for a skill or a trusted source of advice on a topic, then that’s a strong indicator you are really great at that topic. If you don’t feel you deserve this recognition, then ask the people coming to you what’s driven that decision. This will really let you understand what’s helping you succeed, and to see the growth you’ve managed through the process.
If you are working to improve a skill or to make a change that’s hard to measure, then use these techniques to understand your progress. They are powerful tools for growth and learning that will turbocharge your journey to greatness.