The other day I had a very valuable conversation with a colleague about an initiative that I had been working on for the past couple of years. What I learned was that although I had worked very hard to develop it, with notable success, the initiative itself did not quite sync with the direction that the college was trying to go in, in terms of institutional priorities.

Initially, I must admit, the realization that the project that I had labored over for two years actually did not completely support the institutional goals and values of my college, well…stung. But as I was taking in what was being shared with me, I allowed my mind to settle and really focus in on where I had missed the mark.

Surprisingly, I found myself excited by the challenge of re-evaluating my work and making the necessary course correction. I saw it as my opportunity to show my colleagues and superiors that I could in fact take in feedback, dissect, digest, and re-tool the project that had grown so near and dear to my heart and make it relevant to the current priorities of my institution. So, with that said, I pose the question to you. Have you ever devoted a significant amount of time and energy to a project, only to find that it wasn’t quite where it needed to be? Tempted to throw in the towel? Well don’t! Here are a few tips that can help you think more constructively on how to reshape your approach.

TAKE IT IN: Although it may be a little hard to swallow, really listen to the feedback that you’re given. Don’t be so focused on defending yourself that you miss the golden nuggets that can actually help to enhance your work. Take notes during your meeting. Now some criticism may be unwarranted, and in those cases, it may be necessary to let some things roll off your back. But chances are, if your boss is making the effort to address the issue, it is because he or she really does want to see the project succeed, but is seeing some problem areas that you may have overlooked. So take note of everything that is shared and separate the meat from the bone in your private time.DIGEST AND RE-TOOL: Review your notes from your meeting. Follow-up with your boss with any questions you may have. Think critically about the goals of your institution and how what you are currently doing meets those needs. Devise a plan of action to address the areas that were discussed. Carefully review your college or university’s institutional priorities for the year and jot down specific ideas for how your initiative can better align with them.

FOLLOW-UP: Once you have devised a plan of action, if possible, schedule another meeting to discuss your plan and to get feedback. With your boss, develop a timeline for implementing the new changes. It’s best to take initiative and schedule the meeting yourself rather than to wait for your boss to follow-up with you. This will demonstrate that you are serious about continuing to develop as a professional and that you are willing to be flexible in meeting the needs of your institution.

Now don’t be surprised if even after you follow these steps, you still receive requests to make changes. That’s just part of life. We are constantly making changes and re-evaluating where we are and where we need to be. How successful you will be is going to largely depend on your attitude toward adversity, criticism, and correction. If you constantly run away from difficulties or give up when you experience rejection, you will not grow personally or professionally. But if you can weather the storm and learn to embrace the challenges that come, it will not only earn you the respect of your peers, but it will build your character and enhance your professional reputation.

For more great info on how you can earn your problem-solver badge on your job, check out What Every Employer Desperately Wants: A Problem-Solver. 

 

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