Monday, October 4, 2010

It All Starts With You!

The First Person You Have to Manage Every Day Is Yourself

I’ve done hundreds of focus groups with people to find out what gets in the way of their success at work. Predictably, most are factors that are totally beyond the control of the individual, such as:
  • Company policies, rules, regulations, culture and standard operating procedures.
  • The way things have always been done in the organization.
  • Too much work and not enough time.
  • Too many low-priority activities taking away from more important tasks and responsibilities.
  • Conflict between and among employees that creates a stressful, negative mood.
  • Limited resources.
  • No clear chain of command.
  • Answering to too many people.
  • Various bosses having different standards of performance and conduct, and conflicting understandings of the rules and policies and of what takes priority.
  • Bosses who yell and scream and make things difficult.
  • Managers who don’t make time for one-on-one discussions; do not make expectations clear; do not track performance; or do not give honest, constructive feedback.
Blame, blame, blame. Don’t get me wrong. These are all real challenges that get in the way of your success at work. There is only one problem. When you focus your attention on factors outside your control, you are by definition powerless. If you want to be powerful, then you need to focus on the one factor you can always control: You.

You have limited time, but you can gain enough control of your time to take charge of yourself every day. You can play an active role in managing your part of your relationship with every boss.

How? First, make sure the first person you manage every day is yourself. Take good care of yourself outside of work so that you bring your very best to work. And while you are at work, you should be all about the work -- your work, that is. Focus on playing the role assigned to you before you ever try reaching beyond that role.
  1. Figure out where you fit in your organization or department.
  2. Bring your best self to work every day.
  3. Don’t be a jerk at work.
  4. Be a great workplace citizen.
  5. Get lots of work done very well and very fast every day.
  6. Be a problem solver, not a complainer.
  7. Anticipate and avoid problems.
  8. Regularly assess your productivity, the quality of your work and your behavior.
Focus on controlling you. You cannot ignore all those outside factors that define the context of your situation. But you can control what you can do within the context of your job and work situation.

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