Be Great to Work With
This is a no-brainer: When you’re difficult to work with, employees disengage, productivity plummets and customers defect.
The solution isn’t hard to imagine either: Change your behavior as a boss or peer to eliminate the negative impact of self-oriented behavior.
Making yourself aware of the problem doesn’t fix it, of course. That demands that you actually change the productivity-sapping behavior, which requires a change in your interpersonal habits. What can you do to start that process? The first step is a more detailed diagnosis of the problem.
When in doubt, ask.
You have to find out if your professional behavior is impeding or abetting your progress towards your goals, and the only way to find out what the truth is, is to ask the people with whom you work.
Take the time to examine which parts of your professional behavior are the culprits. Not all of your behavior is guilty! Isolate the problem habits and then take another step. How does each of the troublesome behaviors makes it harder for people to work with you, respond to your needs and support your shared goals?
- Do you unwittingly create hurdles to engagement with peers, bosses, subordinates and even customers?
- Do you tend to offload your stress on others (misery loves company!)
- Do you demand loyalty more often than you try to earn loyalty?
- Are you prickly about accepting criticism?
People react to observable behavior. They cannot see or track what goes on in your mind. They cannot divine your motivations for how you act, or your intentions. They observe, and react to, your actions.
(The same happens in reverse, too. You can only react to the actions of others, not what they had in mind. Engagement is a two-way street!)
Your intentions may be of the best sort. You want great outcomes for everyone. Your motivations are not selfish, although you certainly want the best for yourself as well as for everyone else (which is completely OK and expected.)
Decide that accepting honest feedback is good for you, and that gaining feedback is also a highly engaging activity for those whom you ask.
Put defensiveness aside. Your only requirement of those providing input is that the feedback must also not be negative or backward-looking, but forward-focused and action-oriented. What is the current impact of your professional habits, and what habits could you replace them with that might raise team engagement and productivity? How can you and your fellow employee build a mutually constructive relationship? Figure that out, and start practicing the new behavior with the goal of making it a habit.
Have you made an effort to reform or replace destructive habits? How did that process go? If you feel you could use some help, let us know!