no new articles on the blog this week! That means you "just" get an inspirational nugget in this week's newsletter. No link to a new reflectoring article.
If you want to be included with an article in a future newsletter, know that I'm always looking for technical authors towrite for reflectoring. If you're interested, let me know.
In the spirit of this week's topic: don't have good day, have great day! (sorry, couldn't resist)
Inspirational Nugget of the Week
Good Work vs. Great Work
When reading "The Coaching Habit" by Michael Bungay Stanier, I stumbled across the definition of "good work" vs. "great work".
Good work is the work we're doing every day. We do things that are expected of us. Things that our boss tells us to do or things that co-workers (rightly or not) expect us to do to unblock them. It's busywork. After a day of good work, we might feel good because we ticked a lot of to-do items and got recognition from our peers for it.
Great work, on the other hand, is the work that moves us forward. We're doing it to stretch ourselves and to grow. Nobody tells us to do it. We have to be proactive and do it without anyone expecting us to do it. This type of work can feel uncomfortable because we have to define the work ourselves and because nobody might recognize the results. But great work has the potential to be life-changing for yourself or others. It creates opportunities to grow your career and yourself.
In my day job, good work is coding new features or fixing bugs in the services my team is running. When I fix a particularly annoying bug, the team recognizes my work and pats me on the back. I feel good. But I didn't grow, because I've fixed hundreds of bugs before.
Great work, for me, is identifying risks and writing up a plan for the team to act before the risk becomes a problem. It's implementing ideas about how to measure the team's impact to raise the team's motivation. It's thinking about the big picture and nudging the team to its place in that picture. It's spiking out new things and providing the team with options on what to work on next. I feel uncertain if I'm doing the right thing because nobody asked me to do these things. But if it turns out to have been the right thing, then this work is the work that will be recognized in a promotion package. More importantly, this is the work that makes me feel fulfilled.
Here are some tips to do great work.
Take note of opportunities for great work: great work doesn't come to you like good work. Nobody tells you to do it. But that doesn't mean that it's hard to find. Keep your eyes open for opportunities for great work. Maybe the team is in a slump - what can you do to get it out of the slump? The features you're building into the product don't feel right to you. Write down suggestions on what to do and pass them to the right people. On the Trello board I use to manage my work, I put a red label on those cards that represent great work so I know that this is important work.
Block time in the day for great work: I don't remember how often I mentioned this in this newsletter, but if I don't block time in my calendar for something, it's not going to happen. The time will be eaten up by busywork. Schedule a little time per day for great work. If you have no great work to do, use this time for introspection to find great work to do. It doesn't need to be a lot of time, but it works best if it's a habit to have that time every day.
Communicate your great work plans: Once you have identified some opportunities for great work, write the things you want to do down and talk about them with your manager. The ideal situation for this is a quarterly check-in with your manager when you're talking about your responsibilities anyway. This way, you can make your great work official. With it being official, it's easier to make time for it, because you know now that your manager expects it from you.
Don't fall into the trap of doing busywork all day, because this might not fulfill you anymore at some point. Look out for opportunities for great work and then take the time to work on that.
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