Tag Archives: Attitude
Years ago I was going to a meeting in place of my boss. As I was leaving for it he told me he trusted me to make good decisions and if I didn’t he would just fire me. My response was “promises, promises.” From this exchange it’s pretty obvious that John did not fully trust me to act in the best interests of the department, or in his best interests.
Needless to say when I think about the “bad” bosses I’ve had over the years John comes to mind right away. In reality he was a nice guy and he wanted me to succeed. Unfortunately he was so worried about us doing well that he didn’t let us make our own decisions and take our own risks. His concern showed up as micro-managing all of us. His behaviors lead the group to act like a herd of sheep. Most of the group was not willing to make a decision without checking in with him first. A few of us went against this grain and regularly had issues because of it.
I was not willing to abdicate my ability to think to the boss. If I was out supporting our customers, both internal and external, I made decisions about what needed to be done on the spot. There was no efficiency in checking in with the boss for every little thing that needed to be done. Our customers had no interest in waiting for someone else to approve my actions. My position was supporting production which means problem solving most of the time. I learned a few tricks in dealing with micro-managers like John.
- Touch base regularly. Even though I was not willing to handover all decision making to John I would stop by and let him know what I had done and shared the results of my actions.
- No surprises. Part of the driver behind micro-managers is a need for control so it was important to let John know what was happening, particularly anything that went wrong. He responded better when he heard of problems from me before he heard about it from someone else.
- Use as a sounding board. One great technique was to identify a problem, come up with a complete solution and then run it by John for his take on it. Using a micro-manager as a sounding board gives them some up front input to your solutions. With time the changes he made to my ideas dropped significantly.
- Own your issues. John was asking a co-worker and I what was delaying implementation of a project. Mike answered “that would be me”. John just asked why. When Mike explained the cause John said “get it done” and left. That type of delay would normally earn the person a dressing down in John’s office. By owning the issue there was nothing left for John to say.
- Provide solutions. Micro-managers love it when people bring them problems to solve. However, for your career success you need to be able to act independently. Bring solutions to problems when you meet with your boss. This will earn you respect from them and eventually they will relax their control.
In the long run I learned a lot from John, some of which was how not to treat my employees and some was the danger of sheltering people from the tough decisions that must be made. I had a good relationship with him and he did support me when I moved onto another factory. By holding my own and showing him that he could trust me to make good decisions I was given more freedom to act than most in my department. It was much harder to earn his trust, I had to force it. Learning how to succeed with a major micro-manager also showed me how people want to be treated and how to respond properly to them. When you run across a micro-manager tread carefully but stay true to yourself. Being aware of their issues will help you be heard and you can succeed in spite of their restraints.
The attitude you bring with you to work infects those around you. This can be a great thing or it can be a horrible influence. How people see you and how they respond to you is directly related to the attitude you present. So how do you show up?
Here are several attitude types we experience at work:
- Pollyanna: Everything is perfect and everything is wonderful. This gets exhausting if things really aren’t going well.
- Debbie/Danny Downer: Nothing will ever go right, everything is a disaster. This brings down the energy and effectiveness of everyone around them.
- Helping Hand: Everyone can use a helping hand. This person get irritating because they are too quick to jump in to help.
- Critic: There is something wrong with every idea/option. Perfectionism is hard to achieve on a good day and impossible on a typical work day.
- Lone Wolf: Wants to be left alone and stays away from everyone. This is frustrating because they have knowledge that will help others if it can be pulled out of them.
- Fence Sitter: Waiting to see which way things will go before committing. Getting them to step up and decide to act is painful and time consuming.
- Hopeful Realist: Recognizes that not everything is perfect or horrible, focused on getting things done. By focusing on making things better this person is the easiest to work with because they are excited about what comes next.
If you aren’t sure which of these types’ best represents your work attitude, think about how you describe your day. Do you use negative terms to describe everything? Do you paint a positive picture even in the darkest days? The words you use will give you a clue as to how you are looking at your work world. If the terms “nightmare”, “disaster”, or “failure” are often in your vocabulary then you are being very negative. Most people will avoid highly negative people. No one wants to be pulled down into the sad abyss that is typically portrayed. Things are hard enough, why focus on the really ugly parts all the time.
Likewise people who are falsely positive can be exhausting. They refuse to look at what is wrong and that can prevent them from addressing issues. Most places have things that can be improved. Focusing on the good and addressing what can be better is more realistic.
If you jump in to help others all the time you aren’t letting them grow and learn for themselves. People want help, but they also need a sense of accomplishment. Give them a chance to do things on their own and let them ask for help.
If you are a realist, focus on being hopeful. Some realists focus on all the things that can go wrong so if you focus on the good and look for ways to make the problems better people will be drawn to you. Finding solutions and ways to make things better is highly valued by companies and people want to be around those who celebrate success and work towards a better and brighter future.
Each of these types will infect the people around them. Make sure your infection is one of positivity and hope for a brighter tomorrow. Your team will thank you.
I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.
Robert H. Schuller
If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.
How we think shows through in how we act. Attitudes are mirrors of the mind. They reflect thinking.
David Joseph Schwartz