In 2018, I wrote about a hybrid model for working remotely. At that time, working from home (or WFH as we now call it) was an option, a privilege, something that could be considered but required significant changes and challenges in an environment that was almost entirely onsite and present in the office. WFH was not something that we supported, except as an occasional thing. Remote work was something only a few were enabled to do, those with key roles that required near 24/7 access to the network and positions that required a more-than-full-time level of work.
This past week, I’ve heard the following from colleagues and friends:
“I’m not accomplishing anything. What is the point of it all?”
“I’m supposed to have the day off today, but I’m attending this one important meeting. Is it okay if take the rest of the day after that?”
“I’d planned to be off last week but ended up working a few days. I can’t seem to catch up and I felt so guilty taking vacation when I’m behind on so many things.”
There were others, too, but these were the ones I remember most clearly, the most troubling to me. As I spoke with each person, and emphatically assured them of their own value and encouraged them to take some time for themselves, I was saddened again and again at the near despair of my colleagues. I also saw a bit of myself in each of them: these people who are a source of strength for others reaching the end of their own strength and needing a break.
At the same time as this was happening, I found a new-to-me blog site and blogger, with some great guidance on these topics. Here are the posts that helped me help them, and also helped myself in no small measure.
I’ve written previously about strengths and strengths-finding and cultivating strengths. When I first started focusing on strengths with my coach, I was concerned that I was missing something by ignoring (or focusing less, anyway) on my weaknesses. But this seemed to be standard in a strengths-focused approach. I think the thinking is that weaknesses are typically less about character and more about skills; the latter can be improved by training. Also, building on strengths is not about changing but capitalizing and weaknesses are (potentially) off-set by strengths and so will be overcome somewhat naturally. I think this latter point is incorrect, as ignoring or failing to recognize a weakness can make it worse or at least leave it vulnerable.
I was intrigued to read this article, as I'm always on the lookout for ways to build on strengths but also to understand and mitigate weaknesses. Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing - strengths can become overwhelming if applied incorrectly or overdone. By developing complementary skills, you can work towards balancing strengths in ways that enable you and your teams to be highly effective and keep people engaged and performing.
Imagine you are decorating a room. There is large sofa, and you have some throw pillows decorating it, but it looks a little bare, so you get some more. And some more. And some more. How many is too many? 5? 20? 65? Like cupcakes or party invitations, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. This applies to collaborative teams as well.
Who is Robyn?
My career as a research project manager is rewarding, dynamic, challenging, and fun. I'm looking forward to sharing my knowledge and experience in communication, organization, and common sense approaches in research management and leadership, and to enabling others to learn and grow in this exciting career.