It’s been almost three years now since I started learning and improving my managerial skills based on the wisdom and experience of Mark and Mike from Manager Tools. I’ve listened to every single podcast these guys produced since their inception and I’m indebted to them for much of what I now know as a professional and as a manager.
As it is usually the case with any kind of learning there were some concepts that came naturally to me and I implemented them right away either in full or in part. On the other hand there were some others that I wasn’t comfortable internalizing immediately so I put them on my mental shelf and left them to sit there “till the student is ready”. But there was one particular idea that I found incredibly simple and very powerful, yet somehow I have not implemented it in my managerial routine until now. But now, finally, I’m getting on it!
This idea is the delta file. According to Manager Tools’ definition a delta file is a document where a professional notes down the things his superiors or peers are doing that he doesn’t deem as good or effective, and once he is holding a similar role or position he will want not to do such things. Essentially it’s about capturing in writing for our future selves that thought that we all have sometimes: “When I become a boss, I will never do this thing that my boss is doing”.
It’s been a while since I listened to that particular podcast episode that actually explained this idea, so I don’t quite remember whether the delta file was originally devised to only capture the things that one doesn’t like and doesn’t want to do. I guess so, because “delta” is supposed to mean the difference. But in my case, I’m going to try to expand this idea in two dimensions. First, I’m going to capture not only the negatives, but positives too. Perhaps it’s because I’m lucky to have had a great boss and I much more often catch myself thinking “When I progress to next level I will also do it like this”, rather then in the negative. Second I’m also going to use such document for my personal life as well as professional, as there is certainly not less room for systematic improvement as a friend or as a husband than it is at the workplace.
So my delta file will have two columns: “Work” and “Home”. Each of these two columns will be divided in two sub-columns: “I will always…” and “I will never…”. Nice and simple. As of today I already added a few records in each column after reflecting on last week’s events. I will keep adding lines as I go and most importantly I will keep reviewing the file on a regular basis to keep myself reminded and motivated to be the person I really want to be.