How Accomplishment Habits Can Drive Productivity and Salesforce Success

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Accomplishment is a key driver of how engaged you are with your role. Achieving milestones and feeling competent in doing so, will not only dispel self-doubt, but will also serve as a motivation boost to strive towards the next big project, Salesforce release, or a busy period in your business’ calendar.

Accomplishment could serve as the antidote for feeling out of our depth or, feeling as if we are not progressing in our careers.

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Unfortunately, a gap can form between our competency and our responsibilities. This is a gap that technology professionals find themselves up against – the feeling that our knowledge or the time available doesn’t stretch to meet the demands being placed on us results in falling outside the zone of optimal challenge. Left unanswered, it can prevent Salesforce Admins and Consultants from reaching their full capabilities, instead of feeling overwhelmed or unengaged.

We were curious about the gap between responsibilities and competencies that technology professionals often self-reported – so we’re asking the worldwide Salesforce community for their thoughts.

In this article, I will begin by outlining the Competency/Responsibilities gap, why accomplishment habits matter, then finally, 4 ways to work practices that recognise accomplishment into your working habits.

The Gap Between Competency and Responsibilities

We think of the relationship between our responsibilities at work vs. our competencies in a graph like way:

Plotting the two against each other on the graph shows where the zone of ‘optimal challenge’ lies. This is when you are at your best: when your work is challenging enough to be rewarding but not requiring capabilities you don’t have.

Responsibilities = What

What you have to do during your working hours in order to fulfil your role.

Competencies = How

How you will apply your abilities alongside the knowledge and behaviours you have acquired over the course of your career to fulfil your role.

I’m sure we have had experiences across the spectrum during our working lives:

Feeling out of your depth

The feeling of being out of our depth is not uncommon, where our knowledge or the time available doesn’t stretch to meet the demands being placed on us.

Bored and Unengaged

While tasks too hard will push us out of our depth and into negative feelings, the other extreme leaves us feeling like our work makes little impact. Feeling bored or uninspired are also common traits in this zone.

Our perception of our own competence doesn’t improve if a task is too easy or too hard – even when it’s successfully completed! This leads us to now look at why accomplishment is so important and how to foster it in your Salesforce projects and work more broadly.

Why Accomplishment Matters

Accomplishment is “the successful achievement of a task”, or “an activity that a person can do well”. There are plenty of activities throughout our working days that should spark a sense of accomplishment – whether that’s a big event, such as a large Salesforce deployment, or smaller kicks like one of your users understanding a Salesforce concept that they can filter down to their team.

Accomplishment matters because it:

  • Reinforces our self-image in the workplace,
  • Makes us feel competent, giving us motivation.
  • Helps to banish Impostor feelings (which are all too common in tech-related disciplines).

Accomplishment builds up our feelings of competence, engagement with our work, motivating us to strive further. It could serve as the antidote for feeling out of our depth or, feeling as if we are not progressing in our careers.

Progress Boosts Performance

Two professors collected and analysed 12,000+ diary entries recorded by employees at 7 large organisations. Their findings are found in a book titled “The Progress Principle”, at its crux, proves that consistently making progress on projects (even the small kicks), leads to more creative, productive, and engaged individuals.

What’s missing in our working habits? How can we leverage accomplishment to close the gap between responsibility and competency?

How can you apply “The Progress Principle” framework to your Salesforce projects and workload? Here are 4 ways to keep front of mind:

1. Don’t Change the Goalposts

‘Set goals’. It’s an instruction that’s drummed into us. Setting goals that follow the correct format (known by the acronym SMART ) is one thing, but sticking to those goals in their current shape and form is another matter.

I don’t mean ditching the goal entirely, like a New Year’s diet; I’m referring to extending the scope of the goal, what achieving that goal looks like.

As I mentioned, by working with a technology like Salesforce, we have to accept that innovation is fast-paced. Things change: new features are released, others are retired – there’s new best practice configuration, and system upkeep can be an energy sap. It’s tempting to push for more in a given project, never being satisfied because there is always something extra coming on to the scene.

Don’t keep extending your goals until you have achieved them, otherwise, you will end up metaphorically reaching for the prize, but never quite grasping it.

I’m going to call this task creep. Similar to scope creep in Salesforce projects (when clients will try to squeeze in extra items that aren’t part of the original, agreed-upon deliverables), ‘task creep’ will leave you with a bloated workload that pushes goal further, rather than restricting your focus to what’s achievable. You made an agreement with yourself on the deliverables when you made the goal initially.

Frequently changing goals makes reflecting on the progress you have made almost impossible. One moment you could be 80% to your goal but add another workstream into the mix, you may recede back to 50% instantly. Realistically, being pulled into other projects last minute this is not entirely avoidable – but if you are like me, there are plenty of items that I add unnecessarily to my to-do list that could just take a back seat.

2. Access Tech & Training

Solely relying on your determination would be unwise when there are other ways to maximise your productivity at work. Think about the number of tools that could help you achieve the same output with less energy drained from your finite supply.

You only need to peek at the AppExchange to find tools for assisting Admins, or alleviating avoidable workload altogether. Categories include: automated release management, deduplication, data loading, project management, document management, and more.

When there’s a cost attached, you may need to put forward a business case.

Admins should enable their users with self-service training, which is more easier than ever to roll-out using Salesforce In-app Guidance. By providing resources that answer their questions while using Salesforce, you will contribute towards building their sense of accomplishment!

3. Deadlines

Keep deadlines far in advance to not feel squeezed. Time is not an infinite resource, and attempting to stuff more into our days will leave us scrambling and missing the achievement mark.

In my personal experience, this has also involved explaining to business stakeholders why something would take longer than expected. Implementing a new change to Salesforce and connected apps may come with hidden complexities, like security implications, limitations to the data model, governor limits, etc.

How can you get around time pressures? It may help to apply a prioritisation technique in your own business like the IdeaExchange has done; the aim of reimagining the IdeaExchange was to marry up what users see on the Salesforce platform (+ their wildest wishes), to the reality of how Salesforce product development actually happens. The system seems to be working well! We record the latest additions to the roadmap from the prioritisation cycle here.

4. Hold Debriefs on Failures

Failure could be considered the opposite of accomplishment, so, don’t make failure an alien concept in your working habits.

Failures can be the result of cracks in business processes, or someone taking a risk on a particular occasion – either way, debriefing is necessary to solve bottlenecks, breaks, and generally ensure that you/your team don’t grow risk-averse in the future.

Did an Apex trigger push past the CPU usage governor limit? Was a marketing campaign sent to the wrong prospects? Did a junior consultant fudge up the data import?

A debrief is: “a structured learning process designed to continuously evolve plans while they’re being executed. It originated in the military as a way to learn quickly in rapidly changing situations and to address mistakes or changes in the field” (source: HBR). Recognising where you missed out on accomplishments can help you steer towards accomplishments in the future (by running the Debug Log, clearly documenting the purpose of each marketing list, or doing a dry run import with the junior). Also, you could perceive the learnings sourced by debriefs an accomplishment in themselves – in other words, the lessons learned are something you have gained.

Summary

This article began by outlining the Competency/Responsibilities gap that technology professionals find themselves up against. For me personally, it’s familiar territory. The feeling that our knowledge or the time available doesn’t stretch to meet the demands being placed on us results in falling outside the zone of optimal challenge (the ‘green zone’ where our work is challenging enough to be rewarding).

Accomplishment builds up our feelings of competence, engagement with our work, motivating us to strive further. It could serve as the antidote for feeling out of our depth or, feeling as if we are not progressing in our careers. I shared 4 ways to work progress and accomplishment practices into your working habits.

We were curious about the gap between responsibilities and competencies that is self-reported by technology professionals. Left unanswered, it can prevent Salesforce Admins and Consultants from reaching their full capabilities, instead of feeling overwhelmed or unengaged.

The annual Salesforce Salary Survey has a new twist this year! In partnership with Mason Frank, Salesforceben.com are asking the Salesforce Community about their wellbeing, including where they consider themselves on the responsibilities vs. competency scale. The results of the survey provide valuable insights for everyone in the industry on salary, job demand, and the general makeup of the Salesforce ecosystem. Make your contribution today by taking the survey.

A thank you note:

I wrote this article after reading ebook ‘The Psychology of Employee Engagement’ by Peakon, a platform for measuring and improving Employee Engagement. These guys seem the real deal when it comes down to quantifying this thing that runs through organisations, invisible. I used the points outlined in their book and applied them to Salesforce specific tasks, tools and behaviours relevant to Salesforce Admins or Consultants. Download the ebook and read about this topic on pages 6-8.

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