The Art of Strengths Coaching

P is for The Professional Freelancer Approach – Even If You Are A Full-Time Employee    

 

Great workers often choose to behave like professional freelancers. They believe it is vital to do superb work, give great service and deliver success. They behave in this way even if they are full-time employees.

Looking ahead, they rehearse each day and then click into action. Recognising they are always on stage, they behave in a positive and professional way towards all people.

They recognise that their role is to support others, however, rather than be the star. They therefore use their strengths to help all their stakeholders to succeed.

Great workers recognise that the world of work has changed. There are few predictable career paths anymore, but there will always be projects. Customers and employers will always have challenges and needs to be fulfilled.

Such workers therefore look for projects where they can play to their strengths. They then do superb work and help the various stakeholders to achieve success. This can lead to them getting more projects in the future.

They aim do their best each day. Some imagine that they are on a rolling contract that is to be reviewed every three months. They therefore aim:

To make clear contracts with the key stakeholders about the specific results to deliver – the picture of success; 

To get some quick wins, do superb work and keep people informed about the progress being made towards achieving the picture of success;

To keep encouraging people, find solutions to challenges and do whatever is required to achieve the picture of success.

Professional freelancers have a strong service ethic and help their stakeholders to succeed. This can lead to building long-term relationships with individuals, customers and employers.

They are also aware, however, that things can change quickly. Companies can be taken over, crises can happen and unexpected events can shake the market.

Great workers continue to deliver high professional standards but also recognise that their present project – even if it is a full-time role – may end at some point. They therefore often develop a back-up plan.

They then continue to give 100% in their present role. This is because they are choosing to be there each day rather than feeling resentful or trapped because they have to be there.

Such workers always show respect to people – whether they are the cleaner or the chief executive. They see each person as a human being and want to help them to shape a positive future. This helps them to build a good reputation and sometimes results in them getting more work as a professional freelancer.

Looking back, can you think of a situation when you did good work by behaving like a professional freelancer? This could have been when you were actually doing freelance work or were a full-time employee.

How did you treat people like valued customers? How did you demonstrate a strong service ethic? How did you make clear working contracts, do superb work and deliver the goods?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

Being A Professional
Freelancer In The Past 

The specific situation when I did good work
by behaving like a professional freelancer was:

* 

The specific things I did then to behave
like a professional freelancer were:

* 

*

*

The specific things that happened as
a result of taking these steps were:

*

* 

*

The following sections explore some of these steps taken by people who follow these principles.

Strengths, Service
And Success

Professional freelancers play to their strengths. They also recognise the kinds of work they find satisfying. This becomes more important as a person develops during their career.

Imagine, for example, that you have been offered a role. Looking at the job spec, it is something you can deliver but it is not stimulating. The role may be something you did five years ago.

Certainly you can take it and do a superb job. This will put bread on the table. It may also be possible to expand it by adding other satisfying projects. You can then deliver the required scorecard and also get stimulation from the other activities.

Imagine another scenario where you have the time to think about your perfect role. Bearing in mind your strengths, you may want to clarify the qualities you would like in your ideal role.

This was the approach taken by the customer service director for a company. She did the following exercise when looking for a new role.

My Ideal Role Would Have
The Following Qualities 

It would be one where:

I am playing to my strengths – which are orchestrating multiple teams and people to achieve a compelling goal – and I have the autonomy required to deliver success;

I am working with a product, service or company that I believe in and we are doing pioneering work that helps customers to achieve both present and future success;

I am able to, if appropriate, act as an ambassador for the product, service or company by producing success stories and videos that show how it can help people to achieve success.

I am able to play a mentoring or coaching role where I can help people to develop their professional skills and shape their careers in ways that help both them and their stakeholders to achieve success; 

I am able to maintain my own and my family’s wellbeing by being in control of my diary and by doing satisfying work that also pays a reasonable salary. 

She did this internal work – clarifying what she wanted from a role – and then moved on to the external work. This involved translated what she wanted to do into an offering that would be attractive to a company.

Bearing in mind the kind of employer with whom she worked best, she researched the challenges facing such companies. She then translated her offering into three headlines that described the specific things she could deliver to such a company.

My Professional Offering 

Bearing in mind the company’s goals, the specific things I
would like to deliver to help the company to achieve success are:

* To …

* To … 

* To …

Keeping this ideas in mind, she began having informal conversations with people in her network. At an appropriate time, she then said something along the following lines.

“I am happy where I am at the moment, but at some point I will be looking to move on. Looking ahead, I would like to deliver the following things to a company.

1) To …

For example, to … 

2) To …

For example, to …

3) To … 

For example, to … 

“Let me know if you ever hear of a company that would like these things delivered.”

Two months after the first conversations, one employer said:

“Those are things we would definitely be interested in. Can we discuss these a bit more?”

She met the company several times. They agreed on the specific outcomes she would deliver and this led to a job offer. She took the role, stayed there for three years and delivered the goods.

Being a professional freelancer, she then moved on to her next project – which was another full-time role. She continues to be a well-known and well-liked figure in her industry.

Imagine that you have already clarified the qualities you want in your ideal role or project. Bearing in mind your strengths, describe the specific things that you can deliver to a potential customer or employer to help them achieve success.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

Stakeholders, Superb
Work And Being On Stage

Professional freelancers rehearse before meeting their potential stakeholders. These may be the managers, leaders, customers or other people.

Imagine that you want to take this step. When meeting with such people it will be important:

To show the stakeholders you understand the world their point of view, the challenges they face and their picture of success;

To describe how you want to help them to achieve their goals and, if appropriate, to then make clear contracts about the results to achieve – the picture of success;

To describe the potential early wins, the ways you will proactively keep them informed and anything else you will do to deliver the picture of success.

Great workers then move into action, get some quick successes and do superb work. When doing so, they behave in a positive way to all people. They do this because they want to help people and also because they remember the old saying:

“You Are Always On Stage.”

They recognise that people will watch them and make judgements about their professionalism, their behaviour and how others feel after interacting with them. This highlights a paradoxical point.

Professional freelancers believe that – whilst they are on stage – their role is to support others. It is not to be the star. Their work is about helping other people to succeed. It is not about them.

People sometimes need a setback before they realise that others are making judgements about their professionalism. One person expressed this in the following way.

“My turning point came 10 years ago when I was rejected for a senior role. The positive feedback was that I was superb with clients. But my colleagues weren’t impressed with my behaviour in office. 

“They did not like me showing my frustrations or arguing in meetings. My view was that I was just being honest, but I hadn’t realised how it affected people. 

“My bosses wanted me to retain my passion but to channel it in more constructive ways towards colleagues. So I had a decision to make. I could ignore or listen to the feedback.

“I chose the latter route and got the senior role within 12 months. The tough messages were the turning point. They taught me to think about how I behaved in front of colleagues.”

Imagine that you work in an office. What are the situations where you are on stage during the day?

People may look at how you behave when you arrive, work at your desk, participate in team meetings, meet customers, deal with crises and do other activities. What are the key messages they are getting from your behaviour?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

Solutions, A Rolling
Contract And Success

Professional freelancers are self-managing and find solutions to challenges. When faced by a difficulty, they explore the possible options and find creative solutions.

They will frequently solve any problems themselves. There may be some occasions, however, when they need to consult the key stakeholders. If so, they will offer a series of options to people.

After exploring these and other potential options, they will settle on the way forwards. They will then make clear contracts with people about the strategies to be followed – and any support that is required – to achieve success.

Great workers are committed to giving great service. Sometimes they refresh their approach by using The Rolling Contract approach. They ask themselves the following questions.

Good leaders sometimes take this approach with their team. This can be particularly useful if people become complacent. Adapting the questions, they invite the team members to produce ideas on the following theme.

The Rolling Contract
For Our Team

Imagine that our team is on a rolling contract with our company. What would we do to encourage the key stakeholders to keep extending our contract?

Please share your ideas here: 

* We would …

* We would …

* We would …

* We would …

* We would …

We will then build on these ideas and make an action plan. The aim will be to continue to give great service to all our stakeholders.

Superb workers embody the concept of continuous improvement. They keep doing their best to satisfy their stakeholders and deliver the agreed picture of success.

They also make sure, however, that they have a back-up plan. As mentioned earlier, there are no predictable career paths anymore, but there will always be projects.

Professional freelancers do superb work on their present project whether as a supplier or as a full-time employee. They recognise, however, that all projects come to an end.

Such people explore potential future projects. They do this in a professional way, however, rather than in ways that would cause conflicts of interest.

This highlights an interesting paradox. People who believe they can get work elsewhere often take responsibility for being resourceful  – rather than resentful – when doing their present work.

Security is to have an alternative. People who have options will choose to be in their present role rather than feel they have to be there. Such workers will then give 100% to their present project.

Let’s return to your own work. Looking ahead, how can you apply elements of the professional freelancer approach in your own way? How can you do your best to deliver success to your stakeholders?

If you wish,  try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

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