Who Do You Call?

I have several reviewers for my email newsletters (this one and the Pragmatic Manager). I have a variety of book reviewers so I don’t release something stupid. I have people I can call when my vertigo goes haywire. They are part of my professional and personal support network.

Who do you call: when you need a hand, when you want to celebrate, and when you need to whine?

You may need several people to call. It’s pretty rare that we can find one person to meet all of our support needs.

I have found that creating my support system is critical to my professional, personal, and health success. (You might not need a health support system. Chances are good that you are not a dizzy broad!)

You build a support system when you want feedback (what should you keep or change), coaching (exploring options), other kinds of help, and venting.

How do you decide who to call, who to have in your support system? Consider these questions:

  • Where do you need feedback?
  • How often do you need feedback?
  • Are you willing to offer feedback, also?

I have asked my workshop participants to tell me when I need to drink water. I am on new meds, but with my previous meds, my voice would get slurry. I didn’t always notice it before my participants did.

I always ask for book feedback. For the program management book, I have alpha and beta reviewers. For Predicting the Unpredictable, I only asked for my editors’ feedback. I sometimes ask for article feedback. I have regular reviewers for my newsletters.

When I ask for feedback, I set my reviewers’ expectations. Do I need feedback in a few days, tomorrow, a week, next month? Different sizes and pieces of writing require different feedback.

When I do physical therapy or work out in a gym, I get feedback each week. I like this kind of feedback. Given the “wrong” way to exercise and the “right” way, I almost always choose the “wrong” way. It’s not incorrect; it’s less effective than I need.

I offer feedback, so I can build my support system that way, too. You don’t have to offer feedback. I find it helpful to offer, sometimes before I ask, sometimes after.

Here are several ways to build your support system, your network of trusted people:

  • Use professional meetings to make acquaintances who might turn into colleagues and friends. For years, I volunteered at Boston SPIN. I found many reviewers there. Now, I have colleagues I have met through conferences, in online groups, and in workshops. The more you leave your office, the more people you can find to coach and mentor you. (You can do this online. I have a reviewer from 1994, whom I met back in the software-engineering newsgroup days. Sometimes, it’s more difficult to build rapport online.)
  • Ask your friends if they would help or know someone who could help. When you ask for help, you give that person a gift. Asking for help is a sign of strength. It also relieves your friends from having to support you.
  • Tell people you want feedback, when it makes sense to do so.

You’ve noticed that I haven’t mentioned family, personal friends, or your faith. You need all three, and they are not sufficient. When you grow your support network, you open other opportunities. I have found that only depending on my family and personal friends puts pressure on them, and sometimes on me. When I have more people in my support system, I have better results.

You don’t have to call Ghostbusters. Well, unless you need them. I have yet to need Ghostbusters. I need professional and personal feedback.

That my dear adaptable problem solvers is the question this week: Who do you call?

3 thoughts on “Who Do You Call?”

  1. Aleksander Brancewicz


    Great post and you’re right feedback is essential and therefore it’s crucial too to find people who may give you a feedback. I’d like to take this occasion to thank you for your precious feedback (and patience) on my articles! I’ve learned a lot during those sessions.

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