Friday, September 27, 2013

Habits: Absent vs. Present

There are certain habits (behaviors) the absence of which no one notices.  For not having them one does not get any recognition, no rewards, no atta-boys (or atta-girls).  They simply go unnoticed.  On the flip side, presence of these very same habits has quite the opposite effect.  When they exist, nearly everyone notices, and often everyone except the one who is exhibiting those behaviors.  And because they can be difficult to point out and who after all wants to rock-the-boat, people often don't point them out.  Instead, they simply begin to avoid and move away from the person with such habits.

These habits when in excess can and do lead to damaged public identifies, damaged relationships, and reduced effectiveness and success--both at home and at work.  Furthermore, especially at higher levels, they even derail careers and future prospects. This is because the higher one rises, the more behavior matters and it's what often separates the good from the great.

What are some of these habits?

Below in this post I share some of the most common ones that exist in the workplace.  Thankfully though no single person has all or most of these.  At most they may exhibit 1 or 2 or 3.  Even though few in number, they are often enough to cause significant damage.  Thus it's important to understand what they are, to look out for them, and address them if they exist.

Let's take a look at what some of the most common ones are:
  • Not keeping up-to-date on required skills and knowledge
  • Poor personal hygiene and grooming and inappropriate attire
  • Excessive need to be right..always thinking you have the right answer and the only way or the highway approach
  • Poor at managing commitments...letting things fall through the cracks
  • Failing to admit mistakes...making excuses...passing the buck...blaming others...not accepting personal responsibility
  • Making destructive comments...being argumentative....talking harshly and disrespectfully...shutting down discussions...gossiping and spreading rumors
  • Hurrying through conversations...not listening...constantly interrupting cutting the speaker off...taking over conversations
  • Not being open to new ideas and new ways of doing things...focusing only on what's been done before...limiting discussion as a result
  • Withholding information...not communicating or sharing information...keeping others in the dark
  • Not expressing gratitude or giving proper recognition...not sharing and celebrating success with team members
  • Failing to express regrets...failing to say I am sorry and apologizing when needed
  • Taking credit for other people's work...claiming credit that's not deserved
  • Playing favorites...shooting the messenger
  • Emotionally unstable...getting easily upset...being moody...speaking when angry...being unapproachable
  • Micromanaging...over controlling and meddling...getting too much into the weeds
  • Making threatening and condescending remarks...publicly humiliating others...talking down to people...making snippy comments at expense of others in order to try to look good and to try to show how smart you are
  • Being closed to new learning...not being open to feedback and to learning and growing
  • Being overly judgmental...seeing only the negative in others
  • Not seeing multiple perspectives before making important decisions...jumping to conclusions and making dis-empowering assumptions
  • Constantly complaining rather than taking ownership...being overly focused on problems, on what's not right, on why something won't work as opposed to striving to find solutions, on what's right, and on how to make it work...being Mr. Negative...Ms. Debbie Downer
  • Not being available for team members when they need you
  • Putting personal agendas ahead of team and organizational goals
Now that you know what some of the most common ones are, take a honest look in the mirror.  If you are exhibiting any of these behaviors, I urge you to get help sooner then later.  This is because unbeknownst to you, the presence of these habits could be sabotaging your relationships, your career, your effectiveness, and your success -- all the while leaving you wondering why people keep avoiding and leaving you and why you're not getting the results you say you want.  You can break these habits, if you choose to.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Intention vs. Impact

Julie works for a national association and she is an expert in her profession.  Given her extensive in-depth experience and knowledge, she is quick to identify problems before they become problems.  Given her penchant for identifying gaps quickly, whenever any new initiatives are brought up in meetings, she is quick to point out why they won’t work, as planned.  While Julie thinks she is being helpful and preventing future breakdowns, her colleagues think she is being a pessimist, and they feel she constantly throws cold water on their ideas--and as a result they feel its exhausting to work with her.
Mark is a newcomer to a start-up organization that is entrepreneurial, and is staffed with go-getters, many who are much younger to him.  He comes from a very large organization and has significant experience that includes running operations, developing strategy, and business development.  Mark deeply cares about this organization given its mission to help people.  As he observes his colleagues going about their days with little systems and processes in place, he asks them questions about what they are working on and offers his (unsolicited) advice.  Given his passion to serve, Mark thinks he is generously sharing his expertise and experience to help his co-workers succeed and moving the organization forward.  His colleagues think he is checking-up on them and meddling in their business.   Silently they wish he would mind his own business and overtime they begin to resent him.
Rajeev had been a rising star throughout much of his career. He has strong analytical skills, can manage numerous projects at the same time, and is a “make it happen” kind of a guy.  He loves to move fast and get things done.  Whatever needs to be accomplished, he goes after it with determination.  The drive to succeed in him is strong and he does whatever it takes (within moral and ethical bounds of course) to "win the gold".  When he then entered a new company as a manager, where he was hired based on his past successes, after sometime he began feel as if his team members didn’t really seem to like working with him.  In this organization, collaboration was highly valued and Rajeev had come from an organization where the culture was very different.  As a result, his team members would avoid him and they even started to complain to the higher up saying they didn’t like working for him.  Rajeev all along thought he was trying to deliver results and move the team forward, while his team members viewed him as being pushy, aggressive, unfriendly, and abrasive even.
In each of these cases (all real…only names have been changed), Julie, Mark, and Rajeev saw themselves through the lens of their intentions while others saw them through the lens of observed behaviors.  And since colleagues did not have access to intentions, they would judge through observed behaviors and in the process labeled them all as difficult to work with. 
It is also that in each case, while these 3 individuals were all bright, talented, had strong technical and functional competencies, were great at execution, and were experts in their respective professions, the way they were being perceived by their team members, peers, and managers was negatively impacting their careers and their future opportunities.  In one case, the individual was even at the risk of being let go.  And all along all three were blind to how they were being perceived, and they wondered what was keeping them from moving to the next level and why co-workers didn’t seem to like working with them. 
Finally, when they took the courageous step seek help to understand what was getting in their way and took necessary steps to adjust some of their behaviors (how they were doing what they were doing), they each then began to move forward, and new opportunities began to open up for them.  And for this to happen, they had to first be willing to seek out and be open to hearing honest feedback (even though it came as a shock when they first heard it), than accept the feedback, and then do something about it.  Looking back each of them remains thankful for having done so.  Thus lesson here is that recognizing how others view you can help you begin to pave the way towards stronger relationships and greater achievements.  And not doing so can have quite the opposite undesired effect.
So, with the above in mind, do you know how you are being perceived?  Is it possible that one or more of your behaviors could be keeping you stuck, from getting to the next level, from other opportunities?