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Improving Plans

You’ve set up your feedback loop, made good use of it, and done a self-assessment. Now it’s time to use this information to your advantage.

Revising and adjusting plans as you implement them isn’t about fixing mistakes. Seeing a better way doesn’t mean you did anything “wrong.” This is about improving things as you increase your knowledge base. In this case, you want to create a list of actions to guide your plans’ improvement. 

What sort and how many changes you want to make here are up to you. You may need to revise some of your plan, but it’s more likely that you will keep what you have and add to it. That means you need to make a supplemental action plan that focuses your energies and habit-formation efforts in areas where they are most needed. 

To begin writing out your supplemental action plan, get out your SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) self-assessment and match each entry you have with an action.

To put this into practice, let’s assume you have this SWOT:

  • Strength: good at problem solving, trouble shooting
  • Weakness: can come across to others as glib
  • Opportunity: several workshops available at a local business training center
  • Threat: received notice of client complaints that I wasn’t paying attention to their needs

This simple assessment indicates that your ability to solve problems is being overshadowed by the negative impression you’re leaving on the very people you’ve helped. Even though you are technically being successful at your job, clients are left feeling unsatisfied by your performance.

You’ll be tempted to jump to the problem areas, but start with your strength. How can you better leverage your trouble-shooting skill? Is there some new area where you can apply that strength? Are you making sure clients realize you’re resolving their troubles, not just putting a Band-Aid on them?

This leads clearly to the weakness of sometimes seeming glib. Make sure you understand this weakness. What does “seeming glib” mean? This is an excellent time to talk to your accountability partner, or a friend. Do you ever seem glib to them? You may learn you have a tendency to jump to solutions because you’ve heard the same problem over and over, cutting off clients in mid-complaint.

Once you really understand that weakness, look over those workshops. There probably won’t be one called “How Not to Seem Glib,” but now that you know the problem is about communicating that you care about clients’ needs and about how you present yourself to clients, you can see the workshop called “Service Communication” may be just the ticket.

But then you see the workshop is a little pricey, and you hesitate. Now’s the time to remember the threat is clear and present: client complaints will get you fired. You need to take care of this problem ASAP. Does the workshop still seem too expensive or like a good investment of your time and money?