Reflections on Professional Lessons Learned in 2013

2013 is not yet behind us, but the end draws near. Now that December is underway, it has caused me to look back on the year and think about what professional lessons I’ve learned this year.

Dec 2013 Calendar #1Lessons come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are brand new learnings altogether. In 2013, most reminded me of things I already knew. But I experienced (or observed them taking place) in a vivid way to make them fresh all over again.

In no particular order, I thank 2013 for these learnings:

  •  Slow the knee-jerk reaction. Many times the natural tendency when something does not go our way, we want to react immediately and try to “fix it.” Often times, however, the best thing to do is just to take a step back and stay calm.  For example, when you get caught in the middle of company politics, it may just be best to let it play out, rather than to try to directly influence the outcome.
  • First impressions are essential. However, they CAN be changed when needed. It takes hard work, a plan, time and solid output. An entire team working toward the same goal helps.
  • Never ever – I mean NEVER – burn a bridge professionally. You truly never know when one of the individuals involved in the bad scenario are going to come back around in your professional life again. Best to remember to take the high road and say less rather than more. Follow the golden rule, no matter how complicated or emotional the situation may feel at the time. You will be thankful you did in the long run.
  • You can find the sweet spot. It IS possible to deliver very difficult messages in a way that employees are able to receive it favorably, and even thank you for the way it was handled. This is not easy. It requires tons of preparation, incredibly compassionate leadership, and a solid business story to convey.

I can only imagine what 2014 has in store! What did you learn in 2013 that you would like to share below?

Betsy Winkler is Partner at People Results. She can be reached on Twitter @BetsyWinkler1 or on email at Sign up to receive her and her colleagues’ blog at Current.