Setting realistic targets and ambitions is an important part of any leader’s job. For one communications leader that means using a set of words which can inspire and not de-motivate.
by Shirah Bamber
It seems that all of our organisations, public sector or not, have something along the lines of “strive for excellence in all that we do” in our values. In a landscape of tightening budgets, shrinking teams and increased workload it may be time to reconsider our own expectations and standards.
Don’t get me wrong - I’m your typical Type A workaholic perfectionist who finds words like “nice,” “average” and “satisfactory” abhorrent and “ineffective” is probably the worst insult I can dish out.
However I have recently come to the realisation that I can no longer strive for excellence in everything that we do. Despite my best intentions and efforts I am becoming increasingly aware that we cannot produce excellence in everything.
While even just admitting this hurts a little, I think I can be a better leader for my team with clearer and more realistic expectations. With competing priorities, barely two pence to rub together and 892 other things on our list, it is time for us to strive for the best we can do - the best given the time, the money and the resource. The best is clearly still a high standard, but adding in the qualifier - that we can do - makes it realistic. It means the best we can do in this situation, with this budget, in this timeframe and with these resources.
And it least in my team, that is an important distinction. It is a distinction that allows us to step away from the stress (or rage!) when we are provided with substandard content/support from colleagues for this low-level, short term campaign, and doing the best with what we have (while advising how it could be better next time!). It allows us to really prioritise and not spend 5 hours responding to that one person on twitter who only has 13 followers asking really complicated questions. And it allows us to feel good about what we do really well.
Shirah Bamber is Communications and Marketing Manager at Preston City Council
image via gajman