You Know You’re A High-Maintenance Leader When…

She doesn’t think she’s high-maintenance. After all, she’s just trying to do her job. In the meantime, eyes roll, stories are shared, the team loses productive time catering to her needs.

“You’re the worst kind; you’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.”
~ Harry (When Harry Met Sally)

It’s not all her fault, “that’s the way she likes it” has morphed into “that’s how she must have it.” It works, so she continues to let them cater. 

The team doesn’t seem to mind: “oh it’s no big deal”, “Of course I understand”, “You have so much on your plate”. And more requirements get added to the list. We’ve all got a bit of high-maintenance within us.

High Maintenance Leaders

  • don’t mean to be
  • “pose” just in case someone wants to take a picture
  • work to be “liked” above all else
  • have a different focus goal for every day of the year
  • distribute every leadership book they read as “personal development” assignments
  • relentlessly pester the team about how they can help you succeed.
  • have a motivational saying for every situation
  • won’t take “no” for an answer, even when “no” IS the answer.
  • demand the team provide alternatives with justification, but have no intent to accept any solution different from their own
  • never hear the truth
  • have food brought to them on a regular basis.
  • demand fancy updates and complicated Powerpoints, even when their team is slammed with work
  • triple book their calendar, as a line forms outside their office
  • want the Powerpoints to match their eyes (true story)
  • ________?

Lower Your Maintenance Threshold

Check for signs of high-maintenance in your leadership. Determine what your teams think you “need” and why. If it feels high-maintenance, it is.

  • Start with helpful. Make your team’s job easier.
  • Talk about what you really need and why.
  • Ask what else they think you need. Scratch a bunch off their list.
  • Resist the urge to cater to ridiculous needs for those above. Your team is watching, and think you want such treatment too.
  • Find ways to meet your “maintenance needs” outside of work (hire folks to help.)

A special thanks to the Lead Change, with a special shout-out to John E. Smith, and Harvard Business Review communities for jump-starting this conversation.

Ready To Be Promoted?

He thinks he’s ready to be promoted. You don’t. You don’t want to crush his spirits, but he’s not listening. He blames you, the system, politics, and that crazy project you gave him last year. He’s a strong performer and a vital member of your team. You know he’ll get there, but only if he listens.

Tell the truth without crushing his soul.

7 Ways to Get Him to Listen

  1. Understand His Perspective – Uncover the source of his inflated perceptions. It’s likely that his strong performance is a factor. Perhaps he’s been told all along that he was on the fast track, and he’s been paying his “dues” through special assignments and maybe even relocation. Get him to share his perspective and offer yours.
  2. Compassionate Straight Talk – Share your point of view and offer support. “You’re not ready now, and here’s why. If you really want this, and are willing to listen and work hard, I’m all in to help.”
  3. Shadowing – Have him hang out with you for a day or two. Don’t hold back. Expose him to the political pressures, the late-night fire drills, the tough decisions. Every time I’ve done that I’ve heard, “I had no idea.” and sometimes, “I don’t want your job.”
  4. Skip Level Meeting – Encourage him to meet with your boss. Have her share what she looks for when hiring at your level. Ask her to share her perceptions on his strengths, and his developmental opportunities.
  5. Stories – Share your own career story. Be open about your disappointments. Help him take the long view.
  6. Expand His Scope – Most promotions involve a substantial increase in scope and scale. Find ways to increase challenge and expose him to broader pressures in his current role.
  7. Tangible Actions – It’s likely he’s heard the feedback before, but it didn’t feel actionable. No one knows what to do with “you lack political savvy.” Much better to say, “let’s work on building 5 new trusted connections in the next 6 months.” Nurturing self-awareness is a gift. Help others to see themselves as others see them. Help them grow into their powerful potential.

5 Steps To Managing Emotions At Work

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”
~ Daniel Goleman

A subscriber writes:

 I have found that because I’m passionate, I tend to get emotional. I look at things objectively, however at times when I am having a much-needed conversation my emotions get to me.”

Emotions get funky and screw everything up. It’s not just the “distressing” emotions. Joy, excitement, and passion easily overwhelm your cause too. Emotional extremes of either breed raise eyebrows and damage credibility. Listen well to your emotions and hear what they have to say. Channel that energy to serve your cause.

5 Steps to Channeling Emotions

Don’t lose that leading feeling. Use it to inspire your leadership:

  1. Time Out – Back away from the scene. Let it steep. Your heart is screaming, “say something now.” “This is urgent.” “I must speak my truth.” Most moments of truth last more than a moment. You will be more effective with a deliberate plan.
  2. Name That Emotion – Naming your feeling helps you understand it. Jealous, scared, pissed off, hurt, or some combination. Sit with this a minute. Write it down.
  3. Ask Why – The old 5 Why trick is very useful here: (1) Why am I so excited? “It will help the customer”, (2) Why is that important: “their lives will be improved”, “We will win JD Powers”, “My boss will be happy.” Even the second “why” begins to uncover root cause. Go for 5 whys. Be honest. Ask a mentor or coach for help.
  4. Seek To Understand – Really listen to alternative point of views. Ask open-ended “what” and “why questions.” The picture is always bigger than it appears.
  5. Now Speak Your Truth – Write down your top 3 points. Read them aloud. Envision conversation. Breathe, don’t blurt. Use a calm tone of voice. Don’t feel compelled to handle it in one shot (see #1 back away as needed). You’ll gain respect with each well- handled encounter. The next one will be easier.

Join our growing leadership community. Enter your email address to subscribe. Have a leadership challenge you want to discuss? Send me an email at letsgrowleaders@gmail.com.

The Danger Of Knowing Exactly What You Want

Kerri knows exactly what she wants in her “some day” husband. He’s her intellectual peer, has common interests, and is hot – like her. She’s got big plans for her large hypothetical family.

She’s convinced Mr. Right is right around the corner. She only looks up when he matches the picture on her vision board. She doesn’t date much.

“We all have possibilities we don’t know about. We can do things we don’t even dream we can do.”
~ Dale Carnegie

It happens in careers too. Have a vision, mind-map your life, set goals, make plans, get up earlyhustle. Without direction, you’ll under-achieve. With over-direction you’ll destroy your potential.

The Danger of Knowing Exactly What You Want

Beware of the downsides of your know-it-all pursuit. Laser-like focus burns past peripheral opportunities. Strategically built networks exclude the “weirdos” you need.

“Tenacity is using new data to make new decisions to find new pathways to find new ways to achieve a goal when the old ways didn’t work.”
~ Seth Godin

Dogged pursuit of exactly what you want scares those who’ve got relevant guidance. Pushing too hard, pushes away possibilities:

  • In pursuit of promotion, you miss your calling
  • You make the deadline, but miss the mistake
  • You hustle past the guy you need to know
  • You love your suppliers, so stop hearing pitches
  • You’re too busy to take on the special project

Hustle With Possibility

Think big, set goals, make plans and then…

  • Pause for rest and reflection
  • Hang out with unusual suspects
  • Read on unrelated topics
  • Volunteer
  • Make lateral moves
  • Notice what brings you joy
  • Listen to your team

Expert Career Advice From HR Leaders: Carnival Of HR

Every few weeks, HR professionals around the world gather to share their ideas and insights in the HR carnival. It’s LGLs turn to host, so I asked for advice on “Growing Your Career.” After all, if you had a dozen HR folks in a virtual room, what would you ask ? And so I offer you, expert advice on growing your career. Please add yours through the comments.

Becoming a Better Leader

I loved this post by Dan McCarthy about “going under” your managers heads. A fantastic warning for managers of managers about how easy it is to undermine authority, even when your intentions are good. The Perils of Going Under your Manager’s Head

John Hunter provides great advice on Building Your Circle Of Influence. There is a temporal component to your circle of influence. Building that influence is possible by proving the value you can provide. By helping others achieve success you increase the chances they will pay attention to your suggestions in the future. For more posts relating to a career in management improvement see http://management.curiouscatblog.net/category/career/

Alli Polin shares important lessons from her personal experience in Leadership Challenge: Responsibility Without Authority What do you do when you’re given responsibility for a task but never really handed the full reigns to get it done?

Jon Mertz shares Trust Is About Giving and Receiving. In our careers, trust plays a key role. It needs to be evident in how we build and work with teams. It needs to be evident in how we act when given certain responsibilities. Trust provides a solid foundation in which we can flourish in our career paths. Don’t miss his creative video.

Prasad Oommen Kurian shares an edgy post on leadership development. It’s not just about leadership programs. Be sure your leadership development path has depth and breadth. Simplicity @ the Other Side of Complexity

Taking Charge of Your Career

Julie Winkle Giulioni shares great pragmatic advice in,  Career Development Today: Is Your Head Screwed on Straight. Formal, organizationally-orchestrated and condoned career development programs and paths are simply incapable of accommodating the number of people who want to grow on the job. But that’s no reason to sit idly by and stagnate. Change your mindset. Get your head screwed on straight. And start growing today.

Your strengths can hurt you by Robyn McLeod offers important tips on how to prevent your strengths from becoming derailers to your career. In order to grow in your career, you need an honest and consistent loop of feedback on your performance and presence at work. That feedback and your own self-awareness tells you what your strengths are and where your weaknesses show up. There are times when your strength can turn into a weakness

Matt McWilliams gives great advice for when you find yourself in a toxic environment in, “I Can’t Afford to Lose this Job.” He shares how to warm-up your network, fast.

Ben Eubanks shares How Stale Are You? Be sure you don’t go “stale” over time. Here’s how to continuously grow your skills and abilities, even if you don’t change venues. Good stuff.

Mike Henry Sr, founder of The Lead Change Group shares, Kristy Smith’s Post, Is Sharpening Your Skill Set Along the Way the Fine Print to Career Success? Leadership is never handled. There are so many great resources… to grow your career… ENGAGE. Excellent.

Andrea Hrab reminds us of 5 reasons to begin a mentoring relationship in Five Ways Mentors and Mentees Can Grow Their HR Careers Important read.

Leena Thampan provides solid resume advice in her post, 6 Creative Resume Ideas to Find You a Job. Resumes still matter, and Leena’s post can help.

Ian Welsh raises an interesting question in his post How Important is Career Integration for Happy Families?, “Is it better that career is distinct and separate, and that family living and hobbies provide the light relief – the real living?

Practical Career Skills

Need to hone your negotiation Skills? Look no further than Jennifer Miller of the People Equation. Jennifer gleans great career advice from an interesting source: reality TV’s Pawn Stars. See her tips for Six Ways to Be a Better Negotiator.

Whether you’re a recent college graduate or searching for your dream job, Frank Sonnenberg offers practical advice in, Simplify Your Job Search.  My favorite line, “dreams, unlike eggs, don’t hatch from sitting on them.”

Amit Bhagria reminds us to say sincere “thank yous” along the way, One Powerful Word Which Will Help You Grow in Your Career “I would like to kick it off by thanking “Evil HR lady“, Suzanne Lucas, the woman behind one of the most successful blogs on Human Resource Management, who is an inspiration for my blog on HR. I started following her blog in 2009 and since then have been a fan of her writings and her take on the HR world. I am also thankful to Shauna Moerke (better known as HR Minion) who runs the famous HR carnival and every month she sends reminders to us for submitting our best work for the upcoming HR carnival.

Melissa Fairman shares the importance of chosing the right solutions in, But Can You Do It Right? So true, sometimes we look for “new” or “different” when we should be focused on what’s best. Nice read.

Mick Collins shares, Going Social with Workforce Analytics. He encourages frontline leaders to make better use of workforce analytics in their hiring and staffing decisions. As a leader looking to grow your career, it’s important to understand a bit about these tools and how they’re being used. Interesting perspective.

How To Be A Successful Intrapreneur (Even If You're Old)

I’m sick of being told how to win the hearts and minds of millennials. I’ve never bought into the notion that an entire generation of human beings falls into a prototype we can master. I’ve been brewing this sentiment for decades. I thought the HR meetings I attended as a young HR leader (including charts of “what Gen Xers need”) equally silly.

There’s a spectrum of humans in every generation.

The world changes fast, the generations work to adapt. We ALL need to learn to navigate the evolving landscape. That’s what I found most intriguing about millennial, Dan Schawbel’s, new book: Promote Yourself: The New Rules of Career Success He’s a millennial giving advice to other millennial. It’s full of fantastic advice for millennials, and some for the rest of us.

How to Become an Intrapreneur

What moved me from reading to giving Dan a call was his advice on Intrapreneurship (see definition). Intrapreneurship can serve as a gateway to acquire entrepreneurial skills for later use, or as a way to make a difference and get noticed in your current company.

Dan’s advice on WHY to be an Intrapreneur

Intrapreneurship.

  • Allows you to create new positions and advance in your career faster than you might have been able to on the regular track
  • Gives you unique experiences that differentiate you from your peers.
  • Is less risky than being an entrepreneur because you’ll have the corporation’s resources available.
  • Can be a bridge to becoming full-on entrepreneur later on

Not just kid stuff.

So how do you know if Intrapreneurship is right for you? Dan suggests that if half or more of the following statements are true for you, you should “definitely” consider pursuing intrapreneurship

  1. You’ve got a passion for something your company isn’t doing right now.
  2. You see opportunities that other don’t.
  3. You’re creative and innovative in your thinking.
  4. You’re willing to take risks.
  5. You’re a great networker and can build cross-functional relationships
  6. You’re a natural salesperson.
  7. You’re good at working on teams and collaborating.
  8. You’re politically savvy and understand how your company operates.

What I didn’t see on his list is be “under 35.”

Want to be an intrapreneur? If you are a millennial ask these questions:

If this was your company where would invest?
What’s the next break through idea?

If you are over 35 ask the same thing. It’s not too late.

What are you waiting for?

Want to learn more from Dan? Join him for a Free Webcast on September 10th 5:30-7:30 pm EDT 

Note: While I was writing this post, the guy on the train next to me (not a millennial) and I got to talking. He shared, “Oh, my company is all about this. You come up with your transformative idea and then you have to sell it in.” That’s how they break through. He was headed back from such a meeting. Game on. His big question, how do companies track the success of such adventures? We chatted about Google’s approach and others. Who’s got examples?

How To Be A Successful Intrapreneur (Even If You’re Old)

I’m sick of being told how to win the hearts and minds of millennials. I’ve never bought into the notion that an entire generation of human beings falls into a prototype we can master. I’ve been brewing this sentiment for decades. I thought the HR meetings I attended as a young HR leader (including charts of “what Gen Xers need”) equally silly.

There’s a spectrum of humans in every generation.

The world changes fast, the generations work to adapt. We ALL need to learn to navigate the evolving landscape. That’s what I found most intriguing about millennial, Dan Schawbel’s, new book: Promote Yourself: The New Rules of Career Success He’s a millennial giving advice to other millennial. It’s full of fantastic advice for millennials, and some for the rest of us.

How to Become an Intrapreneur

What moved me from reading to giving Dan a call was his advice on Intrapreneurship (see definition). Intrapreneurship can serve as a gateway to acquire entrepreneurial skills for later use, or as a way to make a difference and get noticed in your current company.

Dan’s advice on WHY to be an Intrapreneur

Intrapreneurship.

  • Allows you to create new positions and advance in your career faster than you might have been able to on the regular track
  • Gives you unique experiences that differentiate you from your peers.
  • Is less risky than being an entrepreneur because you’ll have the corporation’s resources available.
  • Can be a bridge to becoming full-on entrepreneur later on

Not just kid stuff.

So how do you know if Intrapreneurship is right for you? Dan suggests that if half or more of the following statements are true for you, you should “definitely” consider pursuing intrapreneurship

  1. You’ve got a passion for something your company isn’t doing right now.
  2. You see opportunities that other don’t.
  3. You’re creative and innovative in your thinking.
  4. You’re willing to take risks.
  5. You’re a great networker and can build cross-functional relationships
  6. You’re a natural salesperson.
  7. You’re good at working on teams and collaborating.
  8. You’re politically savvy and understand how your company operates.

What I didn’t see on his list is be “under 35.”

Want to be an intrapreneur? If you are a millennial ask these questions:

If this was your company where would invest?
What’s the next break through idea?

If you are over 35 ask the same thing. It’s not too late.

What are you waiting for?

Want to learn more from Dan? Join him for a Free Webcast on September 10th 5:30-7:30 pm EDT 

Note: While I was writing this post, the guy on the train next to me (not a millennial) and I got to talking. He shared, “Oh, my company is all about this. You come up with your transformative idea and then you have to sell it in.” That’s how they break through. He was headed back from such a meeting. Game on. His big question, how do companies track the success of such adventures? We chatted about Google’s approach and others. Who’s got examples?

Rejected Again: How to Handle Rejection

The game of life involves more rejections than selections. If you’re always getting chosen, you’re not shooting high enough. You get it. But, rejection still sucks.

I am interviewing for a substantial and pivotal leadership position in my organization. The resumes are piling up fast with qualified candidates. I see the scurry of activity as candidates prepare. They’re doing their homework. Some candidates are those I’ve mentored recently. Others I’ve worked with in the past, or know by reputation. I also have a big pile of attractive “out of the woodwork” resumes filled with strong results and diverse experiences. I anticipate some great interviews. So many qualified candidates, and I get to choose one. Despite their backgrounds and efforts, the rest won’t be selected this time. Some will feel rejected. For those I’m closest to, it may feel personal. It’s not.

Not selected isn’t rejected

This scenario is playing out all over the world. How you handle rejected paves the path to future selection.

4 Ways To Handle Rejected

1. Stop The Negative Self-Talk

The harshest words won’t come from the person doing the rejecting. They’ll likely come from you. Don’t over interpret the “rejection.”

  • “I’m never going to get promoted”
  • “I will never be successful at this company”
  • “I don’t have what it takes”
  • “I don’t know how to play the game”
  • “Maybe I’m not that smart”
  • “It’s too late”
  • “I’m not cut out for this”
  • ?

2. Support the Selected Candidate

Early in my career, I lost out to a colleague for a promotion. Rejection comes early and often. My boss immediately took me aside and said,

“Everyone is going to watch how you react to this. I happen to think you’re the best qualified candidate. We could speculate all day about why he got selected over you. If you need to come into my office and shut the door and say all that crap once you can. But then let it go. Don’t let ANYONE else hear you say it.”

I’ve repeated those words many times over the last 20 years.

Take the high road. Smile. Congratulate. Support their success. Don’t engage with anyone who says, “it should have been you.” Okay, okay your spouse, dog, mentor and coach can know the truth. Be careful.

3. Ask For (and be ready to hear) Feedback

Ask for feedback from your interview and on your qualifications. Ask for straight talk. Be open to hear the reasons.

4. Keep Swimming

It’s natural and tempting to feel defeated. Keep leading. Keep working hard. Keep winning. You will need great results and a strong brand for the next time.

Why You're Not Getting Hired

I get frustrated and sad when I see highly qualified people unable to sell themselves in a job they deserve. It happened again, perhaps you know someone who can benefit from this story and actions that followed.

Meet Me in St. Louis

The sweet woman next to me on the flight from Denver to St. Louis shared her story. She had a masters in teaching, and yet kept piecing together assistant jobs to make ends meet for her and her 7-year-old son. This meant no benefits and often waitressing on the side. She couldn’t seem to get hired in a permanent gig. “I just don’t seem to be what they’re looking for.” She had an interview that afternoon for a “real” teaching job. Game on.

When I asked her about what “they were looking for” in previous interviews, the conversation led to rubrics and curriculum and other teacher-y words. Her lack of experience drained the confidence from her explanation. “I keep trying to figure out what they want, and I think that makes my answers fuzzy.”

Let’s try an approach that will get you hired.

Why are you passionate about education (to hang in this long). What makes you unique as a teacher?

Seat 14 B suddenly radiated a new energy. She told me stories of raising her son bi-lingual and how she incorporates that into the classroom. How she’s an artist and how she marries art history with reading and writing in interactive field trips in the park. She shared her proactive efforts to learn at conferences and share with her peers.

And so, I asked the obvious question.  Have you ever shared any of that in an interview? 

She stopped. “No.”

They Don’t Know They’re Looking For You

In an effort to be what “they” want, she was masking her gifts. They can’t possibly think they are looking for a bi-lingual artist, with a masters in teaching, and a passion for making reading fun. It doesn’t mean they won’t jump when they see that. I would want my first grader in her class.

Teacher’s Homework

The flight was ending so we outlined an approach.

  1. Identify the 3 gifts that differentiated her as a teacher (Art, Languages later I found she knows more than 2), and Reading
  2. Practice the starting statement here’s what I’m about (she needed an elevator speech)
  3. Prepare examples that highlight her 3 gifts (specifics, with outcomes and results)
  4. Anticipate the tough questions, and weave in her gifts
  5. End with confidence. “I don’t want to appear cocky.” (She was about 7 degrees of separation from cocky confidence matters).

Your Homework

  1. Identify your 3 gifts
  2. Curate your stories and examples to explain them
  3. Identify the audience
  4. Tell your story
  5. Grow them more

More Tools to Get Hired

Why You’re Not Getting Hired

I get frustrated and sad when I see highly qualified people unable to sell themselves in a job they deserve. It happened again, perhaps you know someone who can benefit from this story and actions that followed.

Meet Me in St. Louis

The sweet woman next to me on the flight from Denver to St. Louis shared her story. She had a masters in teaching, and yet kept piecing together assistant jobs to make ends meet for her and her 7-year-old son. This meant no benefits and often waitressing on the side. She couldn’t seem to get hired in a permanent gig. “I just don’t seem to be what they’re looking for.” She had an interview that afternoon for a “real” teaching job. Game on.

When I asked her about what “they were looking for” in previous interviews, the conversation led to rubrics and curriculum and other teacher-y words. Her lack of experience drained the confidence from her explanation. “I keep trying to figure out what they want, and I think that makes my answers fuzzy.”

Let’s try an approach that will get you hired.

Why are you passionate about education (to hang in this long). What makes you unique as a teacher?

Seat 14 B suddenly radiated a new energy. She told me stories of raising her son bi-lingual and how she incorporates that into the classroom. How she’s an artist and how she marries art history with reading and writing in interactive field trips in the park. She shared her proactive efforts to learn at conferences and share with her peers.

And so, I asked the obvious question.  Have you ever shared any of that in an interview? 

She stopped. “No.”

They Don’t Know They’re Looking For You

In an effort to be what “they” want, she was masking her gifts. They can’t possibly think they are looking for a bi-lingual artist, with a masters in teaching, and a passion for making reading fun. It doesn’t mean they won’t jump when they see that. I would want my first grader in her class.

Teacher’s Homework

The flight was ending so we outlined an approach.

  1. Identify the 3 gifts that differentiated her as a teacher (Art, Languages later I found she knows more than 2), and Reading
  2. Practice the starting statement here’s what I’m about (she needed an elevator speech)
  3. Prepare examples that highlight her 3 gifts (specifics, with outcomes and results)
  4. Anticipate the tough questions, and weave in her gifts
  5. End with confidence. “I don’t want to appear cocky.” (She was about 7 degrees of separation from cocky confidence matters).

Your Homework

  1. Identify your 3 gifts
  2. Curate your stories and examples to explain them
  3. Identify the audience
  4. Tell your story
  5. Grow them more

More Tools to Get Hired

Should I Quit My Job?

Don’t quit. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Only the strong survive. But what if you’re in the wrong job? If you quit now, did you fail? Or win?

A subscriber wrote to me this week:

“Are there days you want to just quit? I am truly at that point and need to get some advice on how to push through. I am just not happy where I am at the moment.”

After talking to him for a while, we both knew. He was in the wrong job. After many years of tremendous success in individual contributor roles, he’d spent the last few years in a supervisory position.

He’s worked hard. Learned new techniques. Read the best blogs. But, he was miserable. He didn’t want to “quit” for fear of failing. So he worked harder, and felt worse. Perhaps you’ve felt this way.

9 Indications You’re In The Wrong Job

You’re…

  1. Grouchy – Cranky leaders spiral downward, lose influence, and sap energy.
  2. Not Making An Impact – Effort exceeds results. Dissatisfaction dominates. Teams disengage. You go home defeated.
  3. Unable To find Your People – No kindred spirits in sight. Unsuccessful searching for respected mentors aggravates the loneliness.
  4. Not Using Your Skills – Wasted gifts. No matter how hard you try, you can’t find a good way to leverage your best skills to improve your work.
  5. Emotionally Exhausted – Even the fun stuff feels hard. There’s no energy left for the after work activities that make life good.
  6. Trapped – Motivations comes from the periphery, not the job money, benefits, fear of having failed. You secretly wish you’d get fired.
  7. Overwhelmed – It’s all too much. There’s no way to get it all done.
  8. Quiet – Your refuse to talk about work to your family or friends. Even the question, how was your day makes your hair curl.
  9. Sick – A day off makes it worse. Thinking of the return creates headaches or inspires escape behaviors.

What would you add?

Before You Quit

It may be you’re in the wrong job. That’s okay. There’s a right job out there. Quitting doesn’t make you a quitter. Here are some suggestions:

  • Go slow. It’s much easier to get a job when you have a job.
  • Keep up the effort at your current job. Don’t quit in place.
  • Take care of yourself. Take a vacation. Take time to exercise and sleep.
  • Think about other jobs orvolunteer gigs that you loved. What skills did you use? What did you find most fulfilling? Make a list of these characteristics.
  • Arrange for informational interviews. Learn more about jobs you may enjoy.
  • Talk to your boss (pause first)
  • Share your feelings and explore options. Your boss may be relieved that you see the issue. Listen. There may be ways to modify your situation, or find other jobs within the organization that are a better fit.

What would you add?

Can You Ignore Office Politics?

Can you ignore office politics? I wish the answer was yes. I’d love to give you a Harry Potter style invisibility hoodie to pull up over your head when the cross-fire starts. You could go on with your work while the turkeys battle for survival.

It’s not that easy. I’m a bit like Cheryl Conner, author of Office Politics: Must You Play? A Handbook for Survival/Success. I disdain office politics because “I’m just not that good at it.” If you want to learn how to play the game, read another blog. If you wrestle with staying true to your values within the political turbulence, read on.

Naive Doesn’t Work

For years, I tried the invisible hoodie thing. That worked for a while. I got results and built strong teams. That seemed to be enough. When the politics would get sticky, I’d put my head down and work. I stayed away from gossip and made decisions that were right for the business. I had strong mentors and sponsors. You can go along way with that approach. Until you can’t.

Being naive is dangerous. It leaves you unprepared and reactionary. If there’s a Bengal Tiger lurking, it’s best to know it. Otherwise, the next tiger you may face comes from within.

Counter Attacks Don’t Work

The first time I faced a highly skilled political gamer, I reacted poorly. I was shocked that someone would act that way and was unprepared to respond. My reaction– the most ugly form of defensive. I went into the “two can play that game mode.” I started withholding information. I told others of her ugly nature (not realizing how tacky I looked in the process). I became a terrible role model for my team. I diminished my credibility as a leader. The next thing I knew, I had my own bengal stripes forming and I didn’t wear them well.

Rising Above Office Politics

Understand the politics, but rise above the drama. Some tips for maintaining your integrity and credibility when the jungle gets rough:

Do:

  • Stay focused on the business outcomes
  • Look for common ground (most political battles come from how, not what)
  • Be aware of competing agendas (work to understand them)
  • Focus on building deeper relationships
  • Check underlying assumptions
  • Address conflict one-on-one
  • Role model taking the high-road

Don’t

  • Gossip or triangulate (talk about people)
  • Reward negative behavior by responding in kind
  • Take the bait (get sucked into unnecessary political conversations)
  • Play your own games
  • Draw your team into the drama