In these unprecedented times there is a lot of attention and expectations directed to managers. Loads of tips and tricks how to master the role, embrace emotional intelligence, be more understanding and always inspiring. And what about employees? What can they do more to be successful along staying sane and surviving?
The concept of “good manager” is changing. So is the one of “good employee”. The “old” traits are still applicable however the new ones are coming into play and almighty rational knowledge surrenders to more humanly qualities. The below 4 characteristics, used wisely, can ensure success in any working environment.
1. Take initiative
I often meet professionals whose performance is really outstanding and yet they career hasn’t skyrocketed (yet, let’s hope). The main reason for that is their let’s call it “patience”. They sort of sit and wait till someone will notice them and will offer their dream opportunity. They believe that their results speak louder than a thousand words and therefore they don’t need to do much. Every smart manager should notice and take initiative for them.
That’s a very nice idea. It’s just that I have one question – HOW? How does your manager know your dreams and aspirations if you never clearly shared them with him/her? How would the director from another department will know that you are absolutely talented and super qualified for that position that he/she tries to fill in if you silently sit avoiding too much of visibility? So, tell me, how?
The truth is that people are silent for different reasons: a) they do not know what they want (and therefore wait for others to decide or suggest to them); b) they lack self-esteem (it’s hard for them to believe that their aspirations/ideas are brilliant) ; c) they are afraid of rejection or d) they are afraid for their wishes to come true (yes, I’m not kidding here, however unbelievable that may sound).
Whatever is the reason, remember this: it’s up to you to make a choice – to remain silent and wait for something to happen (hopefully one day) or to take responsibility and make your wishes clear to yourself and those around you. The fact is that every organization values and appreciates initiative individuals who know what they want and put effort to achieve it.
2. Be pro-active
In this case I am not talking about taking 250 extra projects in order to prove your superpowers. I’m referring to those great ideas that you’ve been secretly generating, studies you wanna start or amazing initiatives you wanna kick off. Many organizations (I want to believe that all in general) are very keen on developing and motivating their employees. A lot of them have created interesting internal learning opportunities that can fit the needs of the majority of their employees. And yet there is a room for more.
Now, the thing is that in order to get what you want you need to ask. Even in the organizations ranked as top 5 employers in this universe management does not read employees’ mind. It’s a pity but that’s the reality. To get things you want you need to dare to be pro-active, express your thoughts and ideas, make proposals, maybe even team up with others.
3. Be honest
I truly believe that honesty is the game changer in corporate environment. I am not implying that everyone in your office needs to know nitty gritty details about your personal/family life or all your secrets. Not at all! I’m talking about honesty in a different way.
How many of you feel comfortable to admit to yourself and tell your management that you are overworked/overwhelmed and heading towards the burn out? How many dare to ask for help because they experience anxiety attacks (occasionally or quite often)? How many admit that they lost their motivation or feel down? Who can honestly confess to themselves that they dislike their current job but are too scared to choose an adventure?
Quite often the above information is not shared with the line managers because employees are scared of the consequences or simply of being misunderstood. Hence quite often, managers get this information too late – once someone is calling in sick with a burn out or gives the notice of leave. Yes, I can hear many comments about how “good manager should have noticed” but this time I’d like to concentrate specifically on employees.
Because the thing is that in order to be honest with others one must be honest with himself.
Some people believe that feeling anxiety or being overworked are the signs of weakness which does not go hand in hand with a description of “good employee”. Hence, they hide it from themselves and subsequently from others. It’s very easy to say that the motivation and inspiration is lost but way more difficult to explain what your real motivation is. It’s easy to say that you’ve been overworked and to ignore the fact that you became a workaholic because you don’t really know what to do with your spare time. In other words, it’s easier to run from something without precisely indicating what is exactly that you’re running from. Such attitude leaves the opportunity to blame others. But it also destines the runner to the endless search.
The honesty I’m referring to starts with yourself. It’s better to admit that you are lost or not sure which career path to take rather then pretending that you are living the dream in the position which does not feel like yours at all. It is scary, I know. And yet, by doing so you open a door to solutions instead of creating bigger problems to yourself and your team. People around you are very well capable to distinguish the real feel from the fake one. they notice however well you might think you pretend. Keep that in mind.
Many say that in current world it is quite unrealistic, that it is too early to be honest. I disagree. I’ve spent quite a bit of time observing successful professionals to notice that it’s one of the most important factors in their success. They do not lie to themselves.
4. Be human
The times of superheroes are gone. Really. Nowadays the most important thing that people look for is… other people – real, imperfect and sensitive. The ones who do not pretend they know it all, have answers to all questions, do not make mistakes and are super happy all the time. Let’s face it, such “ideal” people just give annoyance to others.
The biggest superheroes today are those who understand how it feels to be “low” and what’s the taste of failure. They can offer a cup of tea or a tap on a shoulder albeit virtually. They know how to make another one smile and give hope. They fell so many times to lean how to get up fast and carry on. They’ve mastered respect. First of all to themselves, so they could share it with others. And the most important – they dare to be themselves.
For some of you this bouquet of characteristics may sound heretic or completely off. Honesty and sensitivity instead of discipline and dedication in a corporation? Seriously? Well, what can I say – just try. At your own pace and in your own way. One by one or all together. There is no need to make a revolution – become the long-lasting change.