By Wayne Hoover, CFI
While a football game can take only 60 minutes of actual playing time, the preparation for such a game takes 12 months of hard work. There are a lot of similarities between a game and life. Just like in the game, we are committed to winning. Not just you, but your organization’s goal is focused on winning as well.
One of the things I always tell my children is that they should not be planning to “top out” in high school or college (think “glory days”), but rather keep that trend moving upward throughout their career. The same principles apply when broken down year by year. The focus should always be on finishing strong, not letting your guard down.
Three areas come to mind to achieve this goal: external feedback, internal feedback and immediate feedback. Externally, consider those outside your department and how they perceive you and your department. Internally, looking at yourself as well as your peers within the industry. Finally, immediate feedback should come from within your department, especially your coach (boss).
Enough of the sports analogies, let’s move on to your fourth quarter goal of finishing strong. The first question that needs to be asked is, “Am I good teammate?” Not just in the investigative realm, but also in the operational realm (externally). While you have personal goals you want to accomplish, the team (organization) goal is to win the year by achieving financial expectations. When was the last time you did a self-analysis or asked someone out of your department, “What can I/we do as a department to help with what you are doing?” By sitting down with other departments you are able to help strive towards the team goal, while also learning new areas of the business, thus helping your career long term. These are not easy questions. They sound easy, however no one likes to hear that they have short comings to the team as a whole. When you consider the game, you are looking to improve and obtain “more playing time” within the organization.
Depending on the environment you are working in, another consideration might be looking at what you can do to improve yourself for next year. Every offseason players look at weaknesses and strive to overcome them. So should we! Once you have asked yourself what part of the business you don’t fully understand, or what part you can achieve better success in, it is time to create a game plan. Continuing education is always needed (so much for never opening up another book after school has been out and I know that was the plan I had). Look at broadening your knowledge through certifications like the Certified Forensic Interviewer (CFI) if you want to have the credentials of an elite interviewer, or the Loss Prevention Certification (LPC), or the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) if you want to focus on fraud investigations. At a minimum, get involved, whether it be through the International Association of Interviewers (IAI) or the Organized Retail Crime (ORC) meetings around the country. In these learning environments you have access to more experienced individuals who have done the same things you are trying to do. Why not pick their brain to learn how they were able to make the next step forward in their career? What better way to show the coach (your boss) that you are dedicated to helping the team this year and beyond?
Did I say I was getting away from sports analogies? So much for that goal!
I would hope that immediate feedback is taken care of on a daily basis, however, I am a realist and can guess it does not always happen. Being a coach for over 25 years in baseball, softball and basketball, and listening to many of my children’s coaches, there seems to be one common element that I hear or say year after year. If you have a problem with playing time, YOU need to talk to the coach and ask, “What areas can I improve on?” While some coaches are already working on those areas with you, others need to be poked to get them to truly coach you. They have to see the desire.
As you move into this fourth quarter of the year, take the sports metaphors seriously and get down to becoming a better teammate. Look at your external opportunities, your honest self-appraisal internally and push yourself and your coaches for that immediate feedback. If you do those items this year, and make them a habit, you have a winning formula for winning this quarter, but also every game you play year after year.