Reading the Writing on the Wall

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Apr 18

We’ve all seen this one: everyone in the department sees the ‘writing on the wall’ except a couple of people. What is obvious to everyone is not obvious to these people.

Over at Insourced, Mick says that:

the consequences of failing to read the writing on the wall can range from inconvenience to utter disaster.

He’s right, of course.

In a good couple of comments exchange, I noted that we need to help people who are not seeing the writing on the wall so that we can change their perception.

Mick noted in the comments that if one really can’t read the writing on the wall, there isn’t much that can be done to teach them. Rather, his point of the post was:

assuming that most of us have the ability to objectively assess our life situations, but are often too bogged down in our daily minutia to stop and look at what’s happening around us.

That’s valid. It’s easy to become so caught up in the moment that we look up and wonder where the year has gone.

So how do the people who can read the writing on the wall ensure that they take the time to read what’s there?

My suggestion is the Weekly Review. For proponents of Getting Things Done, the Weekly Review of all open loops is a critical function of the methodology. It is a time where we look at our current tasks, projects, and often more strategic levels of thinking. We look at them so as to ensure that we have captured all that we need to do and feel comfortable with getting our systems to even. (It is not as easy as that sounds).

For career management, my suggestion is that we add a category to review for the week: what has happened at work this week that could affect my career? It gets us to reading what is on the wall.

It is easy to get lost in the minutia. Make your career part of the process you review on a weekly basis. That way you won’t get blindsided by the writing on the wall.

  • […] We punt our opportunity to influence the views of our job performance all of the time and then wonder “how did I not see this coming?” […]

  • […] The best people leave a poorly performing company early. Usually you will see top management leaving as the first sign. The best people are cognizant of their career path and see the writing on the wall. […]

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