You Can’t Do It All: The Importance Delegation and Asking for Help in the Workplace

You Can’t Do It All: The Importance Delegation and Asking for Help in the Workplace

Studies have shown that Asian professionals are less likely to ask for help in the workplace than their Caucasian colleagues. This confirms much of what I’ve hear in personal conversations with Asian professional clients. Indeed, they’ve often expressed that they are usually very hesitant to ask for help in the office or delegate tasks. Why is this?

3 Keys to Self Promotion at Work

“Self-promotion” is one of those things that come up in training sessions or even conversations between peers discussing the reasons for why some people are getting ahead and others are not. Self-promotion is also a very important theme when you are trying to get noticed by recruiters and hiring managers during a job search.

We all know the importance of it but would rather tell ourselves, “That’s not who I am,” or that “It’s wrong for good work to be overlooked just because you aren’t willing to be boastful about it.”

The first step is rethinking this assumption – that self-promotion inevitably means being arrogant or overly confident about yourself.  While we may all be familiar with this type, the most effective form of self-promotion is something a bit different.

Having been in a position to self-promote and at times, in a position to be on the receiving end of team members self-promoting, I’ve found that it is about doing these three things:

  1. Use facts, not adjectives, to keep decision makers informed.
  2. Tie these facts to what your manager cares about.
  3. Be consistent and proactive about communicating with your manager.

Most of us are not comfortable making statements like “I’m smart and great at talking to clients.”  More importantly, simply describing your strengths with such adjectives are rarely effective in getting your boss (or future boss) to appreciate those strengths. But let’s assume presenting to clients is indeed a strength of yours. How would you let them know? Reflect on what results you achieved by being a smart and a great presenter to clients.

If you just received a favorable response about a proposal from a client following a presentation you delivered, this is a “fact” that you can objectively talk about. This is a much more helpful and natural way to talk about your strength. Your manager is hearing a positive development in business with this client –  the fact or result, and it was based on your presentation – where your ability comes in.

The key is to make sure they clearly see how they are attributable to your abilities.  Something I’ve seen with Asian professionals is a tendency to talk about the first part (report on the client’s response) but fail to describe or even bring up their involvement. As a manager, it is actually helpful to know what factors contributed to a particular outcome, especially a good one. It’s insight that helps them in making future decisions about strategies and staffing for future projects.

Finally, it’s critical that you are proactive and disciplined about communicating these types of facts and contributions to your manager. Most managers need and appreciate being informed and reminded of positive developments in their organization. On the flip side, it is very possible that they are not aware of important accomplishments or how they came about if you don’t tell them about it. You can’t build trust and get recognition for it by being great once in a while. It’s something you have to work for by consistently reinforcing the value of your contribution to the team.

If you’re a job search candidate, that means proactively keeping your contacts, your network aware of positive results and achievements, especially ones that are relevant to a potential employer’s focus areas or needs.

Start self-promoting today.  Focus on the facts – the result, impact or change you achieved, which should make it much easier to talk about, think carefully about how these facts relate to important priorities of the organization. And, on a regular basis, talk about them with your managers (potential future managers). They will appreciate it.

Career Choices: We Make Them Everyday

If I were to ask you when the last time you made a career-related decision was, your answer might be about the last time you applied for positions. Or it may be about when you decided whether or not to move departments, or work for a branch of your company internationally. You probably wouldn’t have told me about how you responded to questions in a weekly meeting or talk about the email you answered before lunch. Unfortunately, that mindset is all too common, and it means that you could be missing out on all sorts of chances to advance your career. 

People typically think about only their big, focused efforts in relation to “career choices”. For instance, when they considered what type of job, industry, or role to pursue at work. We think about career choices as major decisions such as whether or not to stay in a particular job, or whether to accept an opportunity to go on an overseas assignment. Yet the truth is that we make career choices every day. 

All of the following are choices which impact our careers, though we might not realize it:

Who do you spend time with and associate with at work? Who are the people you are learning from (intentionally andunintentionally)? Do you have people around you who challenge and support you in your professional life? People are one of the most important factors shaping our careers; the old saying about how “it’s not what you know, but who you know” really does have a lot of truth to it. The people around you can influence the way you think, and ultimately, the decisions you make about your career. 

It’s not just how other people affect you, either, but the impression you have on them. How you communicate and present yourself in front of decision makers impacts the way they perceive you. Do you come across as a leader, as a team player, or neither? That plays a huge part in determining what types of opportunities they offer you. Wonder why someone who is newer to the company gets a promotion or big assignment before you? It might be because of the small, everyday decisions they make about how to present themselves at work. 

Finally, how you choose to improve yourself on a daily basis matters, too. You need to think about what you choose to say yes or no to, when considering the way you spend your time. Are you saying “Yes” to learning a new skill or are you putting it off? Are you saying “No” to networking events that are “inconvenient” or you just don’t feel like going to, even if they could be useful? Of course, you still need to balance your time and focus on what is most important to accomplish. 

Saying “Yes” to too many projects, can result in poor performance because you have taken on too much. That can have negative effects, even as bad as being overlooked for a promotion because you don’t appear to be able to handle your workload. You still need to prioritize your tasks and give your best effort to the ones which matter most for your career. 

If you want to know what will help you the most at work, think about where you want your career to go. What type of person do you see yourself developing into, and what role does that person play professionally? Then you need to think about how to get there from where you are now.

Ask yourself three questions:

  • Are you surrounding yourself with the sorts of people who can help you advance? 
  • Do your communication behaviors and actions at work reflect the way you want to portray yourself professionally? 
  • Are you making choices about how you spend your time that are aligned with your career goals? 

If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, you need to make changes in order to achieve the outcomes you truly desire. Career changes may appear to just “happen to you”, and you may previously have thought of career decisions as being isolated events, but neither of these is really the case. The little choices you make every day add up to create bigger shifts in your career path.

I like to think it’s very empowering, knowing that the everyday choices we make lead to new opportunities presenting themselves. The way you decide to do things on a daily basis can have big impacts on your career. All of these decisions manifest themselves in the form of unexpected promotions, new paths to explore professionally, and recognition for your efforts. You have more control over your career than you realize!

Best Way To Prepare For Career Transitions

The writing is on the wall. You need to start thinking about leaving your job. Or you have a family situation that requires you to find work in another part of the country. Maybe you’re ready to try something different. I’ve recently talked to a number of people who are faced with planning a transition because of these reasons.

When people reach out to me with career transition questions, I am often asked for tips on writing a resume or cover letter. Should you contact a head hunter or recruiter? Should you obtain additional credentials before applying for the job?

Before you think about any of these things, there is one area I recommend you spend the majority of your efforts on: Your network. 

When you are looking at a transition:

Referrals are a must.

With only a resume, you can lack credibility. You could be trying to transition to a different company, industry or location. Remember that at your current job, people know you. They know your abilities, your work ethic, and your strengths. You are no longer an “entry level” professional.  You have at least several years of experience and you desire a salary that reflects this. The reality is that the more senior you are, the more you are going to rely on referrals for jobs. As your pay level and responsibilities increase, hiring managers are less likely to take a chance on a complete stranger. This is especially true if they have the option to hire someone they know, or at the very least, someone they’re referred to by a trusted colleague or friend.

You want to be informed.

You need to know more about what you’re getting yourself into before leaving your current job. Talking to people who work at different companies and industries is the best way to find out.  The last thing you want is to move into a team or organization that is plagued with the same problems you are trying to get away from. No workplace is “perfect” but find out as much as you can about the factors that are most important to you. Ask about what a day on the job is like, what kind of flexibility they offer, what’s required to be successful in their organization. These are things that are hard to gauge in a job description or even an interview. 

So, having an effective network is critical. But the thing most people say when they think about networking is, “I know I should do it but I’d rather not.” Why is this? Some popular reasons include that they feel too busy and they don’t have time. Others can feel awkward and uncomfortable meeting new people at events.

Here are 3 tips that can help you get started:

  1. When it comes to networking, a little bit can go a long way. You don’t need to make networking your full-time job. Are you imagining that you will have to to join groups or associations, attend events, or write cold emails to strangers asking them out to lunch? Yes, those can be effective networking methods, but they are not the only ways. You should think about networking as something more basic than that: simply keeping in touch and being helpful. This can take many forms:
    • A simple email
    • A short phone call to say ‘hi’
    • A personal message over social media 
    • A birthday card
    • Forwarding an interesting article or information that could be helpful to them
    • Putting people in touch that you think could benefit from knowing each other
  2. Do a networking task that takes less than 10 minutes. I appreciate the “takes too much time” argument. I have two young children, and the last thing I want to do is spend hours attending events in the hopes of meeting someone that will actually become a connection. My strategy is to think of ways I can stay in-touch or help someone in ten minutes. Just because it only takes 10 minutes doesn’t mean that interaction is any less meaningful. The key is to be thoughtful and genuine in your reaching out. Part of keeping in touch could be congratulating someone who just received some good news. It’s quick, but still a great way to stay connected.  Send a LinkedIn message to someone you want to get to know. Again, it only takes 10 minutes, but it can be very effective. I’ve met several key people who have helped me in my business and career through LinkedIn. As a start, you could simply spend 10 minutes coming up with ideas for keeping in touch or helping someone. It’s time well spent!
  3. Remember that networking isn’t something you should start doing when you’re ready to transition. Your goal is to keep on-going relationships with people in your network well in advance of any “need” for your network. If you are contacting someone out of the blue and the first thing you ask is if you can send them your resume, it can indeed be awkward and uncomfortable. It would be much easier to mention your desire for a career move if you are periodically in-touch with them. So, start now! You may not know exactly what you’re going to need or ask of your connections in the future. Often times, a connection may not work out the way you expect it. It could be that those who you never knew could help you with a certain issue are actually more helpful than those who you were ‘counting on’.

A Strategy For Developing Your Soft Skills

Professional development can take many forms. We learn from mentors or from books. We hear from accomplished speakers and participate in classroom training. 

What about soft skills? Like the interpersonal, communication, leadership, management skills?

Trying to learn these skills in a classroom can be a challenge. Classroom training is great for learning or reinforcing concepts, but most discussions tend to be theoretical and abstract. Mentors and role models are certainly more helpful when it comes to learning about soft skills. They give you specific advice about to do or avoid, and serve as inspiration for what you want to become. But there is an even better way.

A while back, my cousin and I were working with a personal trainer at our gym. Every time the trainer introduced us to a new exercise, she would demonstrate it for us. And what helped me even more was watching my cousin try it first. Like me, she didn’t have any experience in the routines. So watching her go first and having her give me some tips about what was tricky or easy was very useful.

Yes, using an exercise equipment is very different from running a meeting.  But learning from someone who is just a bit ahead of you is often a very effective way to develop a soft skill. 

Instead of looking to a very senior leader you admire, find someone who is only slightly more advanced than you in something you’re working on. They may even be at the same “level” or title as you. Perhaps even someone more junior. But if you know they have a head start in a skill you’re trying to develop, like giving a presentation to a particular committee, watch them and talk to them. 

They are close enough to you in experience or ability that their tactics and behaviors are directly applicable to you. Observe and take note: How did she present in the meeting? When did she approach a senior manager to pitch her idea? Why did or didn’t that work?

Soft skills are developed gradually. It’s impossible to drastically improve the way you communicate, manage or lead overnight. If you’re just starting to manage a team, trying to emulate a senior partner is not going to work. What you really need are clues to the baby steps you can take immediately and consistently that will make a difference over time. People who are slightly ahead of you are a great source for modeling those steps. 

It is not about “copying” so much as it is about leveraging them as relevant case studies from which you can draw ideas and lessons. 

Think about the soft skills you want to develop. Now think about who around you is further along in honing those skills, but only by a little bit. You’d be surprised at how many people you can actually learn and benefit from, by using this approach.

Career Management Advice: Creating Your Own Opportunities

You’ve heard it many times. You should be actively managing your career. But what does that actually mean? With so many things that are out of your control, like the economy, your company’s decision to move or eliminate jobs, a new boss or co-worker that you don’t get along with, how do you “manage” your career? My mentor once described it in a way that made a lot of sense to me.

He said that it is all about engineering your own opportunities to get the things you want in your career. Instead of waiting for special projects to be assigned or hoping that you’ll get your manager’s role when she moves on, proactively put yourself in situations that give you greater visibility. The more you are known and seen as a valuable contributor to the team, the better your chances are of being tapped for important tasks or roles and getting support or sponsorship when you ask for certain opportunities. That translates to options, flexibility and ultimately more control over your career.

How do you do engineer or create your own opportunities?

Clearly, it’s not about running into your manager’s office and constantly reminding him to consider you for the next big project. Perhaps, you can approach him and see if there are any projects that need more attention. Or you could go even further by heading into the office and suggesting brand new ideas and projects that you can take the lead on. There is actually one way that I’ve seen works extremely well. That is: Become the “Go-To”

Those who become known for having a specialty quickly set themselves apart and attract opportunities. As the name suggests, people literally go to them. You probably know them. The people who are considered the experts. They’re seen as the authority in key areas that really matter for the company or industry. They’re consulted for high profile projects, asked to sit on committees or provide their input on important decisions.

You can also be a “go-to” person for a special skill like great people skills. I know of numerous examples where certain people were chosen to lead a group or manage a particular client, specifically for their interpersonal skills.  They may not have been the most knowledgable in the business, but what was most important at the time was their ability to lead and build or improve relationships.

What are some ways to become that person?

1. Keep Learning
Everyone, even experts, at one point had to learn what they know. Always have a book on the go that will expand your knowledge or perspective in some way. Keep yourself informed and up to date on a particular issue or subject matter. Engage in conversations or participate in training opportunities to help you develop a greater understanding of the topic. Trying to coast on what you already know is a surefire way to stall and become static in your career. Find something that really interests you or that you have already acquired some level of expertise in. Build on it. The more you know, the easier it will be to recognize opportunities to get involved and add value.

2. Know Yourself
What are you good at? No, I mean what are you really good at? Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses allows you to find the opportunities that best suit you. What have you been good at for as long as you can remember? What do people come to you for? Do you get complimented on a particular skill again and again?  The first step in becoming a go-to person is seeing yourself in that light. Do you make good decisions under pressure? Are you good at getting others to focus on something that is important to you? Reflect on your past achievements, abilities and the feedback you get. Fully own the strengths you have if you want to be known for them. Then figure out all the ways you can use your strengths at work.

3. Help Others
This idea is actually an often overlooked, especially when we’re talking about making yourself more visible and known. The truth is you might already be an expert or have a strength that just isn’t getting used in your own job. (If so, you may need a different job!)  A great question to ask yourself is whether your expertise could be helpful to a co-worker’s project. Not only do you get recognition for your knowledge or ability, but it will opens doors for you to build a relationship with the people you help. Hopefully they will reach out to you again for assistance or even to return the favor by helping you when you need them.

4. Solve a Particular Problem
Focus on a very specific issue that your department, company or industry is experiencing. Showing that you have a track record for successfully solving a particular kind of problem, over and over, such as implementing technology changes related to new regulations, or delivering specific results (always discovering ways to reach a new client base) can also help you establish yourself as an expert or authority. I know a project manager who was exceptional when it came to building “one-pager” presentations. He had a good eye for knowing what visuals worked well and how to perfectly word the content in a compelling way. In just a few months with the company, managers from all areas were coming to him for advice on revamping their one-pagers, which were often used to provide updates to senior management. He made quite a few connections this way with people that directly supported him in his career later on.

You may not get exactly what you want in your career when you want it, but it always helps to have the options and support. Set yourself up by becoming a go-to person so people are coming to you with new opportunities. You just read four ideas on how to get started.  Don’t wait for decisions to be made or for things around you to change as you hope for the best.

How To Prepare For Unexpected Opportunities

“I Carried a Watermelon”

This is a line from one of my all-time favorite movies, “ Dirty Dancing.”We all have those moments. Moments where you wish you knew what to say. Instead, you just kind of blurt something out and immediately wish you could take it back.

That is how I felt, for the longest time. Every time someone very senior happened to catch me in line at the cafeteria or by the printer and asked “How is it going?” The best answer I had was, “Great…” followed by an awkward pause.

If you find yourself not knowing what to say when really senior people greet you, you’re not alone.

What are you supposed say? Does she really want to know how you’re doing? Has your boss told this senior person about the recent mistake you made? Should you give her an update on the new report you’ve been working on? Does she even know your name?!

Chances are, she was just being friendly. A detailed update on the new report would have been TMI but just saying “Great…” (like I was) is missing out on a chance to engage someone who could be important to your career.

Most of us realize that these are actually mini opportunities to raise your visibility and to leave an impression with someone you might not otherwise get “airtime” with. The trick is to turn these “watermelon” moments into such opportunities with the art of what I have been calling the “Greet and Give”: Greet the person and then quickly give them a sentence or two of useful information. 

This does mean you would have to do your homework and know what your senior managers really care about – something you should be doing anyway. Always having a good sense of what they are focused on or even worried about is the secret to engaging them in a meaningful way.

The next time you bump into your manager’s boss, try something like “Hi – I am about to go see (insert important client name), I will let you know if we get any feedback on the project we are working on with them.”

Don’t overthink it. Avoid TMI (remember just 1-2 sentences). And PRACTICE.

Over time, you will find that you are more confident and less likely to botch another chance to boost your visibility.

 

Being "Too Nice" At Work

Perhaps you may have received the following feedback at some point… “You’re too nice.”

Your initial reaction might be “Well, isn’t that a good thing?  At least it’s better than being too nasty or mean!” But you also know it wasn’t meant as a compliment. They are telling you something is wrong with you.

Let’s face it. We are all aware that to be successful in business, in corporate America, you need to be tough, assertive….a leader.  Somehow “too nice” seems like you aren’t cut out for that.

I have actually received that same feedback myself. Many times. I used to wonder what I needed to do to be “less nice.” But that never worked.

Over the years I learned that this is actually poor feedback for two reasons. It’s superficial and it’s unhelpful.

I say it’s superficial because it is often based on the assumption that successful people should come in one form – aggressive, pushy and loud. And if you aren’t this type of person you must not be the successful type. So, clearly, you need to change.

It is unhelpful because you may have a boss who is actually trying to tell you something about how effective (or ineffective) you are and instead tells you “you’re too nice.” What he should be doing is articulating the ways in which you are not performing to his expectations.

So what can you do if you get this feedback?

The first thing I would do is ask questions. Ask what he sees as being problematic as a result of being too nice. Have him clarify what he’d like to see from you. You’ll start to hear the REAL issues. The stuff you can actually work on:

  • Not challenging people when you have a different view or more information
  • Failing to advocate for your needs or getting buy-in from others
  • Lack of boundaries with your time
  • Making too many allowances for others
  • Need to work on getting your team more visibility and recognition

If this is what is going on, you’re ineffective and being “too nice” may be his diagnosis for why he thinks you are having these issues.

Your goal should be to get to the bottom of the specific skills and behaviors you need to improve upon.

Ultimately, it could mean being firmer in your delivery or setting clearer boundaries. But now you’re thinking about specific strategies on how to communicate or adopting tactics around managing a project, as opposed to figuring out how to change your personality. These are skills you can learn and develop. And if you need help with communicating your team’s wins more often, get it!

Finally, if your’e finding that they are having trouble telling you what you’re not accomplishing or where you are falling short, yet still insist that you’re too nice, you may want to question if they are simply trying to see you conform to a particular style –  the one they think you need to have to be successful. That is their problem. But you may have to help them see that by demonstrating (and reminding them) that there is more than one way of being effective and successful.

 

Corporate Culture: How To Adapt Without Changing Who You Are

A major component of being successful is identifying and adapting to the culture in the workplace. Often times this can be difficult to learn, especially if you find yourself in a position where your own values, cultural background and beliefs seem to be at odds with the culture at work.  If you grew up in Asia or in an Asian household, chances are you’ve experienced this to some degree. I often hear from Asian professionals who struggle with speaking up or navigating a “flat” organization. 

How can you adapt to the corporate culture and still be true to who you are?

Be Aware of Your Own Values and Beliefs

A lot of how well you adapt actually depends on what you do before you even join the team. You may be someone who prefers a more collaborative, creative approach, and tries to defuse confrontation before it happens. You value harmonious relationships on the team. Or maybe you are someone who values autonomy and having freedom in the work you do. By knowing yourself, you’ll be able to see what kind of workplace culture you would thrive in, and more importantly, see where you might not. This fit is often more important than the technical qualifications. While you can always learn new ways of presenting or how you prepare a project plan, the fundamental values that drive you are core to who you are. So look for an environment that will embrace those values.

Do Your Research

Similar to the previous point, you should know what you are heading into before you dive in. Before an interview, research the business and discover their value system or mission statement. If the moment you read it, you react negatively, then this might not the job for you. If you find yourself nodding in agreement, there is a chance that it might be an excellent fit. In an interview, ask questions about the corporate culture of the company and see how they line up with your image of yourself.

Adapting

Even after all this preparation, you might find things are very different from what you expected. A new workplace is a lot like finding yourself in a new country. Things might look the same, but the systems underneath can be completely foreign. 

There are two keys to adapting successfully.

The first is your mindset. Often times the greatest hurdle in adapting is the fear that you need to become: “aggressive,” “arrogant,” “fake,” or “calculating”.  The truth is, adapting to the corporate culture is more about learning and trying different ways things are done. Treat this learning process as adding new tools and options to your professional toolkit.

In the very beginning years of my career, following up with someone was something I hesitated to do. I didn’t want to be pushy and I believed that if someone hadn’t gotten back to me, they must have had a good reason. However, I realized to someone who is extremely busy a follow up call or email is actually quite helpful. And, I couldn’t keep letting things fall behind because of a delayed response. So, I figured out ways to follow up tactfully. It’s a nice skill to have and something I now incorporate in my professional interactions, as needed. The same thing was true about the need to post my managers on updates and issues. I learned how to do that, too, and I was relieved to find that I didn’t have to turn into a “pushy person” to do either of these things. 

Like trying on a new pair of shoes, different ways of doing things can make you uncomfortable. A little bit of discomfort at first is OK. However, a lot of discomfort might signal that this is not the job for you. It happens.

The second is remembering they hired YOU, not someone else. So, don’t assume you have to do things exactly the way people around you are doing them. There will be many ways of doing the same thing or handling a situation that fall within the realm of being “acceptable”. In fact, you may be able to introduce improvements to the existing culture. Think carefully about whether you can still achieve the same results by doing it in a different way. For example, one of your peers might be getting the attention of the senior manager by yelling out across the floor every time he has a great idea. You can just as easily make an impression by sending a quick and helpful summary catching him up on things that happened while he was on vacation. Ultimately, if you can convey what needs to be said, be heard and get recognized for your work, there is a pretty broad range of techniques and styles that can work.

To learn this “new language,” pay attention to the way your co-workers communicate with each other.  In the beginning, you may have to figure things out by trial and error. After a while, the unwritten rules that govern a workplace should become clearer, and you will have a good sense of where there is flexibility vs. what is non-negotiable about the culture of the organization.

When adapting to any culture, it is important to give yourself time to get more comfortable with the differences you may find and learn to work with them. Don’t panic if it doesn’t come immediately. Open yourself to the possibility of change or other ways of doing things. Above all, remember that it is okay to be yourself, that is who they hired.

Building Trust With Your Manager

You may be honest and diligent. Yet, you may still not have earned your manager’s trust. I can recall several of my colleagues being frustrated with their managers for not trusting them with more responsibility or a bigger project even after they’ve proven themselves to be highly motivated and hardworking.

The reality is there are other important attributes that you need to demonstrate in order to successfully earn and build trust in the workplace. In one conversation, a senior manager talked about someone he trusts as “someone who gets it.” So what makes you a person who “gets it”? Here is a breakdown of what you need to “get” or understand:

The “Big Picture”

Think beyond your scope of responsibility. It’s important to show you understand organizational priorities. Consider how your efforts affect the broader agenda. Demonstrate urgency, where necessary, and pay close attention to shifting needs or goals of the team.

Ask questions to learn about what is most important to the organization. It might be improving controls, managing costs, or strategic growth and business development. That awareness should tell you how to define success in the task or project you are working on. It also helps you communicate your results more effectively. You can frame your wins with the context and relevance that help senior leaders appreciate what you have accomplished.

The Importance of Creating Transparency

Keep managers in the loop on what is going on, whether it is the status of your projects or any issues they need to know about. Make sure that they’re never caught blindsided if a situation does escalate. Be prompt and clear when you raise concerns. Do you need additional information or resources? Are certain people or problems holding up a project? Part of this goes back to the first point about awareness and having a good sense of what your manager really cares about.

Agree on a way to keep your manager informed without bombarding her with too much information. Does she prefer email updates or an in-person catch up? Make sure they don’t hear about brewing problems or complaints from an outside source; you should always avoid situations where your manager’s boss, or – worse yet – their clients are getting to them before you’ve had the chance to give them a heads up. You want them to know you to have their back.

The Value of Consistency

Consistency is one of the keys to building credibility and trust in the workplace. Your consistent quality will establish you as a professional that can be counted on to deliver. Your manager will know what she can expect from you and you’ll become a reliable ally that she won’t hesitate to call on. Establishing consistency is all about producing quality work, not just on the things that you enjoy doing or when you have time, but under all circumstances. Learn how to manage distractions and stay focused. Your standard for quality will differentiate you from others; it demonstrates your discipline, sense of priorities, and time management skills.

The Organizational Culture

In any organization, there are values, rules and expectations about the way things are done. Some of these things are clearly stated by your manager or in procedures and handbooks. Others are simply “understood” and can be more subtle. Observe the ways in which others behave to learn about appropriate ways to communicate, where the boundaries are and how to collaborate and negotiate with others. At meetings, you are seen as an extension of your manager. Your manager needs to feel comfortable with the way you represent her and in the way you carry yourself. The decisions you make also need to reflect the organization’s values and mission. You can lean on mentors or colleagues to help you navigate the culture, especially when you are new to an organization.

You may think that you’ve earned the trust of your managers, but we can always take it one step further. Demonstrating that you’re not only likable and hard working, but that you 1) know what’s important to them, 2)keep them informed, 3)are consistent in your delivery and 4)understand the team’s culture will build your credibility and earn deeper trust from your manager, their superiors, and also from your peers.