Maybe you've heard the story of the two people hiking in the woods. As bad luck would have it, they came upon a bear. The bear rose on its hind legs and was so big it blocked the sun. In fear, the two hikers turned to make a run for safety. Recognizing the bear was in hot pursuit, one of the hikers hollered to the other, “Do you think we can outrun a bear”? As the second hiker edged ahead ever so slightly, he softly uttered, “Hmmm, I don't really know; but I think I only have to outrun you”.
So, my question this week is “Who do you need to out run”?
Only you know the answer to that question. Here are some pointers that may help you along your way. These are some of the things that I have heard, learned, and observed in my years of observing people in their upward climb and downward spiral:
1. Don't be remembered for saying stupid things – Don't blurt out without thinking things through. Listen, learn and form educated opinions. Offer the relevant and not the irrelevant… or stay quiet.
2. Less can be more – Interjecting your knowledge or “wisdom” at the right time and in the right place is a good habit to develop. People, including bosses, do not take well to the “pontificators” or those who are “always the expert on any subject”. Sometimes asking poignant questions can accomplish more than making a statement on a topic.
3. Eliminate surprises when it comes to priorities – There are few things worse than finding out after-the-fact that your Top 5 Priorities aren’t even on your boss’ Top 10. What a waste. Initiate frequent in-process-check conversations throughout the year.
4. Be consistently consistent – As I have shared in previous newsletters, you will be known as either consistently consistent or consistently inconsistent. Make predictability one of your attributes. Your bosses, your peers, and/or your subordinates should be able to anticipate how you will respond to stress, pressure, unexpected demands, and ethical challenges.
5. Be known as a “Learner” – If you are a candidate for promotion don't be surprised if you get asked, “What is your greatest weakness?”. The question really doesn’t stem from the idle curiosity on the part of your potential new boss; but rather a desire to know what you have done, if anything, with the awareness of the weakness. Be proactive in improving yourself.
6. Own up to mistakes – I think it was Shakespeare who wrote: “Thou protest too much.” Trying to deflect fault or error, or to blame it on others works only for short periods of time. Over time, those around you will recognize a lack of integrity. Acknowledging errors actually models the behavior you can expect of others in turn.
7. Do more than expected – You all know this one. (Only doing what is expected, or what is in the job description, is a sure way to get passed over.) “Doing the minimum” is not an attribute you want to be associated with your profile. Show the capacity for doing more. Show you are investing yourself in your job.
8. Know the people around you – It is not enough to be able to recognize and know your bosses by their names. Take the time and make the effort to know the names of the people around you in the workplace. Know the names of the maintenance, housekeeping, and building security staff. It is, simply, a sign of respect toward others. It is in short supply. Everyone in your organization contributes to the ultimate success of the business. They may be “Directors of First Impressions” to clients and potential clients of the company. But, bottom line, be known for being respectful.
More “learning” prompted by the animal kingdom...hmmm