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At a conference last month, I sat next to a professionally dressed and extremely articulate young man who’d recently been hired as COO of a medical services company.
“What are your biggest challenges?” I asked him.
He went on to explain that his board of directors was unhappy because profits had plateaued. His R&D staff was not very innovative. The HR systems were not efficient. The IT department was slow to fix issues. And the sales staff was barely meeting quotas. By the time he finished talking, there were few departments in his organization left that hadn’t been targeted for blame.
“So, where does the responsibility for all of these problems lay?” I asked, genuinely curious to hear how he’d answer.
The man silently stared at me for about a minute.
A recent participant in a BRODY training program contacted me last week via e-mail.
“I’ve been put in charge of a large project and was told to choose my own team from any departments in the organization,” she wrote. “If successful, it will be the beginning of a whole new direction for our company. I’m very excited.”
She went on to tell me that as she was still fairly new to the company, she didn’t have a title that afforded her any genuine authority. In fact, some of the colleagues she wanted for her team were far more senior than her.
The participant then asked, “Why would these new team members listen to someone without any authority over them? Won’t they resent me?”
This is a classic work dilemma.
In social media, one wrong click of a button can have potentially career-damaging consequences.
Let me share a story that Bill, a colleague of mine, told me. He was very excited to be venturing into LinkedIn for the first time. Sure, he had a profile, but that was it. Now, he wanted to start reading posts, commenting on feeds and increasing his network. Bill was checking his network feed, and reading articles that his associates and clients had posted. One post was about how to cope with really horrible bosses. Without giving his action much thought, Bill “liked” the post.
Harmless, right? After all, that’s how you engage on social media, by liking commentary and following others, right?
Imagine Bill’s shock when a few days later his boss called him into his office.
The way that businesses operate is changing in many ways. Concepts about effective leadership are changing, as is the prevalence of flex-time, shared jobs, working virtually from home, and the need to influence with or without authority based on a title or pay grade.
Companies are looking for outside-the-box thinkers and leadership abilities at all levels from the mailroom to the boardroom.
They want a “new school” way of thinking and not the “old school” mentality that what worked before is good enough.
Employers are complaining they cannot find new hires with the skills they need, and their bottom lines are suffering.
Would-be employees — particularly recently minted college graduates — are complaining that they can’t find positions that give them the chance to fully demonstrate their skills and talents.
Last week, I began talking about people’s different behavior styles. A thorough knowledge of which style you fall into — as well as which one your manager and any clients or coworkers you have a tough time communicating with fall into — can be a huge help to you.
The more you know why people respond and react the way they do, and how your style meshes or clashes with theirs, the better you can communicate.
If you missed that blog post, please take a look at it. I believe you’ll find it worthwhile.
I really like this quote from the brilliant Dale Carnegie: “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”
Let’s continue talking about working with difficult people, because unless you work in a vacuum, you will have to deal with them at one point or other in your career.