Purposeful HR

Purposeful HR
Purposeful HR

Welcome to Purposeful HR

Welcome to Purposeful HR

Monday, February 23, 2015

Always be open to something new (& other lessons learned while paddle boarding)

Yes, below is a picture of me learning to paddle board last weekend. To my friends and peers currently buried in snow in Boston or elsewhere in the North, I'm sorry. Not trying to rub it in, I promise!

We signed up to go on a guided kayaking trip locally here in North Houston. It was my first time. We had a great experience learning how to kayak with our instructor guiding us from her paddle board. During the trip, she gave us the opportunity switch and try the board.
What? The water was chilly. There is more balance involved. I immediately got in my own head with questions and doubts:
What if I ended up in the creek with an hour or more left to travel? I hate cold.  What if I ended up with an injury? No time for that. Why leave a perfectly good kayak?
Obviously I did it.  Guess what…. I LOVED IT! I stayed on the board for the rest of the trip. Luckily, I never fell, although there were a few close calls.
As I reflected back on this experience, there were a few lessons learned from this experience for first time managers, experienced managers taking on a new project or working with a new team. For me there were several good reminders, as this coming week I will be taking on the oversight of our newest division of Cenikor, Trusted Employment Solutions (TES). TES is a non-profit, alternative staffing agency focused on assisting those with barriers to employment. This includes veterans, long-term unemployed, and those re-entering the job force or with other barriers.  So lessons learned:
Lesson #1 - Go for it!  Don't let the fear of failure stop you from taking on what could be a great experience or next step in your professional development.  Be sure to use your available resources and ask questions to ensure understanding before jumping in.
Lesson #2 - Have a good instructor or mentor to help guide you with the new task or opportunity in front of you.  I had a guide with me to share the basics of paddle boarding.  If you are a new manager, find a positive manager role model, preferably someone in your organization who knows your culture, can guide you around potential obstacles and is someone you trust.  For TES, I've found a mentor with multiple years of experience in the staffing industry.  
Lesson #3 - Build rapport and learn from those around you.  For my paddle board trip, there was a lady probably 15-20 years my senior on this trip who I got to chat with prior to the trip.  Lucky for me, she has kayaked before, and when I got stuck in shallow water, she came by and helped me get "unstuck".  For a new manager or with a new project, take time to build rapport with new team members or peers.  Spend a bit of time up front talking with each person about what is working, what's not and critical success factors and it will help you get buy-in that can be important at a later date.  I plan to start at TES by working with each of the managers, asking those very same questions and determining our best path forward to success.
Lesson #4 - Making mistakes is a part of the learning process.  While I never fell into the water, I did have a few stumbles (i.e., running up on the bank to avoid a log at one point).  It showed me I did have a bit of control even though the activity was so new to me.  I communicated when I got stuck and got help.  As a new manager, realize you cannot be perfect, and when there is a mistake, own it.  Communicate with those it might impact instead of waiting for it to do so and being reactive.  Most people do not like surprises when it comes to achieving work goals, so informing of any potential negative impact to the goal may result in you or the team mitigating that risk.
Lesson #5 - Relax and be present.  I was nervous until I had my first stumble or two, I didn't realize I was very tense.  Yes, my knees were slightly bent per instruction to keep my balance, but I had a death grip on the paddle.  After a bit, I begin to relax, even look around and enjoy a bit of the view.  It actually helped because I was able to see further upriver, find more of the shallow spots, obstacles, the rest of the group.  Relaxing and paying attention to what is in front of you, being present and listening to those you are working with, using your available resources can all shorten the learning curve and even make the experience of being a first time manager or new project lead more enjoyable.
While kayaking was fun, my preference was the paddle board experience.  It was more of a workout while still being able enjoying nature and time with our group.  I cannot wait to do it again!  So I'm glad I took on the challenge to learn to paddle board and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to continue to grow TES while still having oversight of the HR function for Cenikor.
If there's a new opportunity you've been anxiously holding out on, I hope you reach out and grab it with both hands.  Just relax the death grip a bit and enjoy the ride.

I hope you have the opportunity to serve and make a difference today!

Kellee Webb, SHRM-SCP, SPHR

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