Today I sat on the train on the way home, in a crowded carriage.
A woman got on board, talking on her cell phone, and rather than hanging up she talked through the entire 30 minute journey. That wasn’t so much the issue in the crowded carriage. The issue was that she spent the entire time complaining.
Complaining about her job, about other people on her job, about the stress that it created for her and so forth. It was evident that the person on the other end of the line worked with her, and was most likely her boss. Oh – and 95% of the talking was happening at the train end of the call. The carriage reeked of mutually shared but not discussed discomfort.
It was all very hard to tune out due to the sheer volume and intense stress levels of the poor woman – who was close to self-induced tears the entire time. Franky – she was a nightmare, and that was just for those of us in the train.
The person on the other end of the phone wasn’t having a great time of it. Our fellow traveler was proving extremely difficult to manage, requiring at least 40 minutes of listening time in what was an excessively dysfunctional call. Moreover she oozed incompetence and defensiveness, along with uncoachability – the three killer factors when it comes to being a good employee.
So – that begs the question. Are you easy to manage? Do you think about being easy to manage?
Let’s assume that you are smart and resourceful – clearly becasue you are reading this blog you must be both. Smart and resourceful people can get a heck of a lot done, and very quickly. But they can be wildly painful to manage.
They ask too many questions, nag for change several times too often, pushing for the better way rather than the way we have always done it. They are likely to get very excited about something and then totally deflated when others close it down. They are great at making changes but lousy at day to day monotony. They require constant feeding of work, and if you give them responsibility they eat it up and demand more. You feel that they want your job, but really they want your CEO’s job.
However, if they are easy to manage, then they are the superstars.
So – what should you do? How do you become easy to manage?
Here is one top ten list of how to makes changes while being easy to manage:
- Think about it. In each interaction with your boss and everybody else you work with, think about whether you are being easy to manage. Do it constantly. Review how you went in your mind. And devise approaches, before you confront people, that will engage them rather than alienate them.
- Prioritise the changes you want – rather than fight 20 battles understand the 3 important ones and go for the, While you are at it, slow down the pace of interactions, saving them for a set time each day or week – most people can only take so much.
- Try questions. Avoid ‘teling’ people what to do by putting everything into question form. It can sound contrived at times, but it really works as it means you are asking for an opinion rather than telling. The resulting discussion often leads to a better answer.
- Give credit to everyone except yourself. Seriously – don’t ever take credit for anything. Try it and you’ll not only get a lot more done, but you’ll find that the folk you are giving credit to actually deserve it. Eventually you’ll find that those same people start giving credit to you – and then the credit-festing game begins. The idea is to give more than you receive, and the result is an amazing work environment where everybody truly appreciates what everybody else is doing
- Out work everyone. When faced with a hostile environment put your head down and produce. If everyone else is complaining, but you are producing that much more, and easy to manage, then your career is looking rosier. Be careful to make sure that you are noticed, but don’t over do it – the occasional email sent at 2am helps.
- Never complain. Ever. Come up with ideas and solutions, but whinging is a career killer.
- Move. If the work environment encourages whinging and whining, then get out, and get out fast. You are who you hang out with and complaining constantly is not a healthy state of affairs.
- Read. Read a critical mass of how to succeed in business books. Understand how to Win Friends, how to manage in a minute, how to move cheese, close a deal, get to yes and have seven habits. After a while they all start to sound the same, so stop. (they pretty much are the same). I would not recommend adopting any single one of them as a cult or religion, but take elements of each and construct your own way of operating.
- Get some air cover. Air cover is someone senior who thinks you are a star and will champion your career informally. Senior folk like to help folks that are earlier in their career, and like to understand what is happening at the lower levels. One of the best techniques is to be there when they are – after hours is alway good for a quiet chat about the state of the world. Try not to tell tales, but keep them informed by using light references to things that you think they should know about. If they pick up on the reference then great, else just move along. And never use any reflective power that you may think you have from this.
- Have fun. If you are enjoying what you are doing, then chances are everyone around you is enjoying working with you. If you are slogging away on something not enjoyable, then figure out a way to make it fun or figure out a way to move to something else. Even the worst work can be made fun if you introduce a new ‘element’.
What do you think?