Like so many of you, I’ve been drafting and redrafting my New Year’s Resolutions.
There are the tried and true promises of exercising, eating better, losing weight; overall adopting a healthy lifestyle.
There’s the “I want to be a better person” list: a better father, husband, son, brother, etc.
And then the idealist list of changing the world by holding the powerful accountable, giving voice to the voiceless, empowering people to act…all of the things I love about being a journalist.
In the end, my 2017 resolutions list looks very much like 2016 and 2015. In fact, it’s probably the same year after year with few alterations throughout my entire adult life. And that’s OK. After all, resolutions aren’t meant to have a beginning and an end. They’re personal goals we are trying to achieve daily regardless of it being a new year or not. The idea isn’t to start them and then drop them once we break the perennial pledges; it’s to keep trying over and over again. I find that just trying makes me a better me day after day and year after year.
So, this January instead of going public with my living healthy, better me and optimist list; I thought I’d share 3 useful practices which if applied regularly can help you (as it does me) be a better workplace leader, colleague, compadre…
Now, wait…wait. Yes, I know. It’s not an earth shattering revelation that listening better at work makes you more wise. But I want you to consider other side effects of giving people your attention.
I have a lot of ideas and as such I have a lot to say and not enough time to do so (I’m being sarcastic). When I’m in a meeting, I spend too much time jockeying with others for pauses in order to jump into the conversation. I’m afraid that if I don’t say something smart and meaningful that I will come across as disinterested, disengaged. The key here is to say something smart and meaningful which truth be told none of us have a stellar batting average.
On the contrary, it is when I am listening that I often get “a-ha” moments which are either lessons learned or spark new ideas to be discussed.
It is often when I am listening that others invite me to share my thoughts. There is something powerful when someone asks your opinion versus volunteering it.
It is when I am listening that colleagues feel appreciated for the attention bestowed on them and return the favor. One does not elevate their position in the office by taking the floor, but by sharing it with others…that is a more solid foundation for success.
The most popular conclusion of every workplace study, survey or review I’ve ever taken is that employees do not feel they get the appropriate respect and recognition from their managers and teams.
I certainly feel that way. They don’t know how good they have it with me on the team! I get things done around here at half the time and cost than anyone else. Why without me this place would be in ruins within a month…wah, wah, wah.
But how many times have I recognized the work of others? It’s been my experience that no one person wins alone. Few are the jobs which are not interdependent of other people and departments. In the times when I have been praised by my superiors (especially publicly); how many times did I take the opportunity to share the spotlight with others? Not because it is the politically correct thing to do, but because it is simply the truth.
Make the pledge to praise others each week. It doesn’t always have to be the very visible “employee of the month” type of recognition; simple pats on the backs and thank you’s are great investments which will pay high dividends on your road to becoming a leader versus a manager.
Make many of them. I made it a point during my time at NBC Universal to listen to my very wise colleague and friend Anna Carbonell (see what I did there…jejeje) who told me to strive to be the person who introduces people and not the person being introduced.
I’ve chewed on that recommendation for quite a while. It’s been nearly ten years since I worked with Anna and I still think about her lesson. It’s not only powerful to be the one making the introductions because in that position you obviously know the two strangers, but the real power comes from the act itself.
There are fewer defining moments in one’s career than being the bridge; the person who connects two other people, parties, ideas, you name it. In deciding to make the introduction, the introducer (it’s a real word, I promise) has identified a reason for why these two people should meet. That reason is an intersection which has the potential for collaboration, innovation and gain. And at the center of this burst of business enlightenment is none other than you.
Be selective in your introductions. Like giving praise and listening, the key to success is consistency in the practice, but beware. Practicing any of the three just to go through the motion can have an adverse effect which can be as negative to you as it can be positive when you’re being judicious.
Happy New Year!!