A flaw I carried around with me for many years was not being great at “checking in.” I’ve worked remotely for a long time, and while I’m good at communicating high-level strategy and giving reports when needed, I’ve often fallen into the trap of communicating only the bare minimum necessary. I’ve never liked being micro-managed (who does, right?), and I’ve often chafed under onerous reporting requirements – I preferred to just manage my own affairs and deliver on my promises. While some of those requirements have indeed been too onerous, I have to admit that good management often needs more data than I was providing, and there have been plenty of times when I should have checked in more than I did.
But not lately. Lately, in fact, I’ve gotten more than few compliments from people that I’m a great over-communicator. That I go above and beyond in keeping people in the loop and connected with what I’m doing.
My reaction was… huh? Me?
Since I’ve always known that was a flaw of mine, and it remained stubbornly so despite my attempts at correcting it, I’d mostly abandoned the idea of improving that metric (I know, shame on me!). Instead, I’ve tried to just be so valuable in other ways that it washes out; I’d made peace with the idea that my idea of ‘sufficient check-ins’ was going to be different than others’. So what suddenly changed that after years of trying to improve and then giving up, would I suddenly be great at it with no deliberate effort?
Oh yeah. I started blogging every day.
Put another item on the list of benefits that this blog has generated for me. Without even realizing it, I’d been training myself to talk about what I’m doing in a public way, every day. I don’t do a “recap” blog once a week or twice a month. I blog every day. That habit is strong. And it cleared the road to doing that in other ways, like making sure to send frequent updates to the rest of my team.
You can train yourself like this for anything. You can give yourself small, daily tasks that have similar skill requirements to things you want to improve on. It’s one of the reasons I say “When in doubt, work.” You never know what other skills you’re teaching yourself that you didn’t even realize.