You’re young, you have just been hired into a company with established and reputable employees that have long track-records of success (or long track-records of key relationships that have helped keep them in the positions they are in). Or, maybe you’re in the midst of a career transition. You have been in the workforce for about 10 years now and are transitioning to a new phase, new industry, and new company. You may be an entry-level employee, or simply in a role where you are not overseeing a group of people. This can be an extremely difficult position to be in, especially if you have any iota of ambition, vision, and drive. You have ideas, you have fresh energy to breathe some “new life into the company.” How do you go about making organizational adjustments, policy and procedure suggestions without sounding entitled and overstepping your metaphorical reach? It’s a tough place to waver while you’re trying to establish credibility yourself. The first place to start is by recognizing your ambition and drive are not liabilities to your company, but assets. However, there is a way to position yourself as the guide to your company and staffs growth while not playing the hero. That’s the important thing to note. As soon as you position yourself as a hero swooping in saving the damsel in distress, you will immediately turn off your supervisors and will label yourself as an entitled, discontent, know-it-all. Definitely not the label you want. So what can you do? How do you lead when you’re not the leader?
Confrontation. Tough talks. Crucial conversations (Grenny, Switzler, McMillan). The idea of having a tough conversation in any interpersonal context is enough to send someone in a stress sweat. But why? Well, as humans we resist what we don’t know. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, if your brain is doing that for you then kudos, your brain is doing a great job at keeping you alive. The point is, the idea of having these tough conversations can be so stressful because we feel ill-equipped to handle them well. Now, of course, even the most gifted of communicators can go into a tough meeting and speak with all the tips and tricks they have gathered, and the person receiving the message can still respond out of anger. The real kicker is that people are unpredictable. We do not know how someone will react to bad news, criticism and the like. But what if you could be given some tools to help prepare you for these conversations? What about conversations that didn’t start out heated, but you blinked and realized you have a coworker/employee that is furious and so are you? No worries, with the help of our author friends Joseph Grenny, Al Switzler and Ron McMillan (authors of Crucial Conversations), we can provide some tips and tricks for you to best navigate these situations.
Employee engagement, employee happiness, employee BREAKS!? In a movie, that’s where the record player would scratch to indicate something terrible just happened. BREAKS!? “Workers aren’t hired to take breaks; they’re hired to WORK!” That’s one person’s opinion. I think this sentence should be said like this, “PEOPLE are invited in roles to increase production.” Research shows, paradoxically, that taking breaks can supplement and increase productivity. I’m a fortunate man, for many reasons, but incredibly fortunate to work for a company that provides some autonomy, empowers me to make decisions and allows me to empower those I work with. In our growing company, our Marketing Department is comprised of two people; myself and a wonderful person named Amber. Our roles have been set up to support our “happy place” in the context of workflows. I’m empowered to think big, vision-cast, and oversee big projects. Amber comes alongside me and makes sure that while I’m being a dreamer and visionary, the small details don’t get missed. Even though we are in our happy places, there are of course things we have to do that we don’t love. Amber is an incredibly efficient worker-bee, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t get tired, frustrated with a process, or straight up burnt out on a project. I saw this. Not just in her, but also myself. What’s the solution? I established a weekly 1-1 over coffee. We think bigger, we bond, and we get things done. Period. As a result of these meetings, we have been become more productive and more connected in thought and communication. What’s the takeaway? Sometimes… Coffee. Just take a break. For you analytical, black & white people, here are a few pointers for you to consider: