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Entries for the 'When Playing by the Rules Backfires' Category

When Playing By the Rules Backfires #5: The Rule Keeper

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Does you boss love your team spirit? Count on you to keep things running smoothly? Never make waves?

In this week’s podcast conversation, Claudia and I discuss The Rule Keeper. This cooperative, team player is a great asset in any company. Leaders have enough to do without arguing the merits of every decision with every team member; or coming in to find that their instructions were ignored and each person proceeded along their own courses of action.

The question we want you Rule Keepers to ask yourselves is, “Might I be withholding valuable insight, knowledge or experience in the name of playing by the rules? Might I be holding back?”

Could the cooperative spirit you’ve been so proud of be working against you and the team’s best interests?

Listen in.

Why Do We Punish Ourselves?

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

Why do we do it?

Go back again and again.

Our “gift” wasn’t appreciated the first time. Why do we so often insist on giving it repeatedly?

If you are the type who likes to help by informing others of company rules, boundaries and other policy restrictions, then you are probably no stranger to backlash, isolation, and other forms of resistance.

As we continue our discussion of this week’s podcast personality, “The Enforcer,” we need to think about the cost to ourselves of our noble advocacy on behalf of the firm.

While it may benefit the company to experience the one less violation that you just prevented, what has it cost you in the way of trust, credibility, and future communication effectiveness?

Generally, when it’s not your job to enforce, the information is seldom received well. You can criticize the reactions of those you confront until you’re blue in the face, but if you are chipping away at others’ willingness to listen when you speak, you may be undermining your own ability to be heard on issues more germane to your role and responsibilities.

The key is to be aware of the impact or effect our confrontations are having. If a particular issue of policy enforcement is neither our job nor likely to be valued by the recipient, we might be the wiser to leave well enough alone.

What do you think? How do you discern whether to get involved when company policy is being compromised?

Haven’t yet met The Literalist, The Peacekeeper, or the Silent Achiever? Catch up on the entire podcast series, When Playing By the Rules Backfires.

When Playing By the Rules Backfires #4: The Enforcer

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

It didn’t have to be this way.

You were only trying to help.

But now everyone is avoiding you.

What went wrong?

In this week’s podcast conversation, we discuss one of the most misunderstood persons in any company, The Enforcer. This is the person who takes it upon him or herself to enforce company policies and rules.

From their perspective they care about the company and are trying to inform someone else of a policy, boundary or practice that the other person is violating. From their perspective they are helping.

Unfortunately, this role is usually not part of their job description and therefore comes as a complete surprise, even an inappropriate and unwelcome surprise, on the part of its recipient.

Our good intention can backfire on us when it involves serving as the “bad guy” where not expected or requested. Are co-workers clamming up when you enter the room or picking up the phone every time they see you approaching?

This week’s podcast is for you. Listen in.

Listen In -> When Playing by the Rules Backfires #3: The Peacekeeper

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Some scenarios never change. Your boss who explodes at any hint of disagreement. Your co-worker who complains at the slightest inconvenience. Your client who goes over your head every time they want a schedule change.

In this week’s podcast conversation, Claudia and I look at The Peacekeeper. In this version of playing by the rules, our protagonist (you?) goes out of his or her way to accommodate, pacify or otherwise head off the unpleasant behaviors of others.

While on the surface admirable to keep things cool and running smoothly, the question for you is, at what cost?

Are you inadvertently diminishing yourself, compromising your own job performance or sacrificing what you know is best in order to prevent someone else behaving like a child? How did that become your responsibility? Did anyone force you to take that role? Could it be that your noble-feeling peacekeeping could be backfiring on you?

Listen in.

When Loyalty Turns Naive

Friday, September 26th, 2008

We’re discussing The Silent Achiever this week. We’re looking at the person who trusts the system to reward his or her performance according to company policy.

I regularly emphasize self-awareness, because, more often than not, when we feel betrayed by the system it is our own naivety and/or blindness that got us into the position where others can exploit or harm us.

Let me clarify that I am not blaming the victim here. I am trying to empower those for whom their heightened sense of loyalty and cooperation leads them to trust where trust is not due and who then find themselves overlooked or taken advantage of yet again.

While systems are designed to be fair in principle, in practice there are a host of complications. Busy supervisors often aren’t aware of your efforts. Ambitious co-workers talk themselves up every chance they get. In these situations, your quiet loyalty has the opposite effect that you intend.

What you need are ways to keep yourself in your supervisor’s range of vision. Stop by her or his office occasionally to share a bit of news about something you’re working on. Pass along interesting news clips related to your company. Have a weekly, “Thought you’d like to know…” that you use to keep him or her informed. Speak up in meetings, even if just to make a passing comment like, “Good point,” or ask a question.

Instead of silently cursing the unfair system while congratulating ourselves for our quiet cooperativeness, let’s work on finding more visible expressions of our commitment and loyalty.

What’s one new way you might show up more visibly? (Without, of course, morphing into the obnoxious co-worker whose form of self-promotion offends you so.)

On your side,

– Karl

Listen In -> When Playing by the Rules Backfires #2: The Silent Achiever

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

You’re convinced the promotion will be yours. After all, you’ve been playing by the rules.

In this week’s podcast conversation, Claudia and I discuss The Silent Achiever. This person trusts the company processes, procedures and structures. Not ones to brashly draw attention to themselves, they believe their performance will speak for itself.

They are meeting their goals… exceeding expectations even. They put in extra hours, help others and never questions their boss’s demands.

How could such exemplary performance possibly backfire? Why are so many silent achievers shocked and dismayed when the promotion keeps going to someone else?

Listen in. Where do you too naively trust the system to be fair?

When Everything You’ve Got is the Bare Minimum

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Sometimes we limit our efforts at work to our job description because we don’t want to step on toes or be perceived as presumptuous.

Many job descriptions are so full that it takes all we’ve got just to complete our daily responsibilities.

In our podcast conversation on The Literalist, Claudia are discussing the reality that there are occasions when all you’ve got might be the bare minimum.

The example I want to talk about today is crunch time. Crunch time is when deadlines get moved forward, and all previous planning no longer applies. Crunch time is when there is an unexpected absence on the team, and their workload needs redistributing.

There are times when more or different is needed of us. If we do not have eyes to notice these needs, then our faithful fulfillment of our job description risks being interpreted as avoiding work, not being a team player, or doing the bare minimum.

What we need to do is expand our personal definition of “faithful”, “loyal” and “dedicated” service. Instead of limiting it to the strict fulfillment of our written job description, (which is a good thing), we need to include the fulfillment of the greater goals of the department.

When we view our job description as one piece of many in the achievement of larger department goals, then we open up new perspectives for viewing how we might best adjust during crunch times.

Instead of being seen as doing the bare minimum, we are the ones who are making things happen, getting things done, and part of the solution.

It’s not a matter of choosing between being too self-protective or too self-effacing. It’s a matter of being wise about your involvement given the leaders and team with whom you work. These are different for each of us.

How do you gauge your supervisor’s perception of you?

Listen In -> When Playing by the Rules Backfires #1: The Literalist

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Fulfilling one’s job description is a good thing. Right? Well, not always.

We begin a new podcast series this week entitled, “When Playing by the Rules Backfires.”

Wait a minute. Is that possible? I thought we were supposed to play by the rules.

Yes, but sometimes in doing so we undermine our own effectiveness, sabotage how others perceive us, or forfeit key opportunities.

Join Claudia and I as we meet and discuss:

  1. The Literalist
  2. The Silent Achiever
  3. The Peacekeeper
  4. The Enforcer
  5. The Rule Keeper

Today, we meet the Literalist. Join the conversation and listen in.