Like I mentioned in part 1, this part is about "Knowing Yourself.´ It´s not quite as transcendental as it sounds. Of the three things (Knowing Yourself, Knowing the Boss, Knowing the Relationship), I can never decide which is most difficult. I think it depends upon the person. Some folks, who are naturally inclined to look inward, have an easier time really understanding themselves. Others find it very difficult. Regardless, this part is the one we have the most control over. The other two involve, to one degree or another, some other person´s whims and idiosyncrasies, and you´ll have little control over that. Knowing yourself, however, is completely accessible. Unless you´re a total basket case–then it´s only partially accessible. You´ll have to pay a therapist to access the rest. I´ll leave the basket case determination up to you.
The slide you see here is from my presentation (click it to get the big-size version). On the left side are four self-evaluations that you can make in order to help better understand your own patterns and motivations. On the right is a quick list of tips for enhancing both your understanding of yourself, and for bolstering your individual strengths. You´ll want to spend real time considering this stuff.
Your strengths are those areas that you either are predisposed toward, or have a clear preference for. Even
if you have the preference for a particular discipline or domain, but
aren´t accomplished yet, you should count that as a strength. For
example, if you work in customer service, but have a strong interest in
finance, you ought to count finance skills as a strength. An excellent place to begin to research your own strengths, from a broad perspective, is the Gallup organization´s book "Now Discover Your Strengths.´ There´s more info on their website.
Weaknesses are those areas where you know you either can improve, or where you simply want to avoid. Some
folks have no trouble talking to strangers (a strength), but struggle
with math, and they may want to avoid situations where they are
required to do a lot of math. That´s fine. A
common misconception of weaknesses is that they taint us and ought to
be avoided at all costs-as if admitting a weakness means that you
necessarily decrease in value as a person and an employee. That´s just simply not the case. Everybody has weaknesses since it isn´t possible to be great at everything. Some people are skilled at accommodating and adapting around their weaknesses, but they still have "em. So relax, everyone has weaknesses and you´re not alone.
Your personal style refers to your work-style, not your clothes. Do you prefer your workspace quiet or loud? Would you rather receive paper or electronic copies? Would you prefer to read instructions or hear them given? Personal style encompasses all the bits that contribute to a comfortable workplace for you. Explicitly
knowing and creating the best work environment for yourself can save
you a lot of mental aggravation in the back of your mind.
How you view authority sounds odd, but it´s important. Some
people have a natural inclination away from authority and then tend to
make assumptions about their boss that may not be accurate. Other folks may be inclined to rely too heavily upon authority-seeking a nearly parental relationship, with the same results. Think about how you´ve dealt with past bosses and understand your tendency. This
backward thinking is tough to do and requires absolute honesty, but the
payoff can be tremendous in terms of the health of your relationship
with your boss.
Now on to the tipsheet. The tipsheet is arranged in a random order, so don´t read into it. The "Yay Me! File is simply a standard manila folder that you keep good stuff in. Just drop in notes when you´ve accomplished something great, or if you get an email from a happy customer. Just drop that stuff in the file. Review
it when you´re feeling low, but especially review it and pass it along
to your boss around review time-hopefully your boss is keeping one on
your behalf, but just in case, a Yay Me! File is good to keep around. Though your boss ought to be keeping track of your successes and failures, too often they don´t. And when review time comes around, the boss will only be able to recall the last few weeks of your performance. If
you suspect your boss doesn´t keep track of your performance in such a
detailed manner, pass him or her a copy of your file a couple of weeks
before the review.
periodic goals ought to be something you do in conjunction with your
boss, but if you´ve got a boss who doesn´t pay much attention to that
stuff, you´ll have to take matters into your own hands. Working with some of the ideas that are coming up in part 3, you´ll want to establish goals that are in line with your boss´s and department´s goals and then keep track of progress. Break the goal into discrete tasks that you can spread out over a lot of time. Make
it formal-make a spreadsheet, or list it all out on paper, but keep
track of your progress, and when you´re done, drop that thing in the
Yay Me! File.
Dependability seems like one of those no-brainer, common sense things. You know, be at work on time, finish what you say you´ll finish, etc. Dependability is a no-brainer, but it deeper implications. Here´s the bottom line with dependability: a boss wants to believe that he or she can rely on you or your team. Without that assurance, you will bring micro-management upon yourself. Because if the boss can´t depend on you to work reliably, they´ll come hang out with you to make sure stuff gets done right. So strive for dependability and discourage your boss from micro-managing.
Double-loop learning sounds pretty academic, but it´s really simple. It´s just thinking about thinking. If
you have a historically difficult time talking with your boss, try some
double loop learning-think about your assumptions as you enter
conversations with them. Think about how you might be bringing previous issues with you. Think
about all the factors, large and small, that could be playing a role in
how you approach a simple conversation with the boss. That´s double loop learning. Just thinking about thinking.
Respecting the org chart
Respecting the org chart is probably the simplest item here. It just means don´t jump over the boss´s head. Sounds
reasonable, but you might be surprised at how many people don´t
consider the implications of copying the boss´s boss on a simple memo. For instance, if your boss´s boss sends an email directly to you, it´s good practice to reply with a cc to your boss. Keep them in the loop. With
that particular scenario in mind, however, understand that if your boss
wants their boss to know something, they´ll let "em know. Don´t take on responsibility for what you have no control over. If
you feel your boss is somehow being negligent and you´re certain that
they´re not passing along vital info, then by all means jump over them,
but go easy.
So that´s the quick rundown on "Know Yourself.´
Part 3 will be about "Know the Boss.´