Alexandra Levit had a great post today about How To Be More Visible At Work. I hope her readers take her advice to heart and turn it into action – especially the task-oriented ones, like me! Those of us who tend to be more oriented toward information and doing the work than relationships, incorrectly assume that our knowledge or productivity will speak for itself letting us off the hook for speaking for ourselves. Rather than seeing talking about ourselves as shameless self-promotion, we need to start seeing it as our responsibility. We have a responsibility to let team members and decision makers know what we have to offer, how we can contribute and how we are making things better. We are always happy when we find out about a product or service that is “just what we need.” How are we going to find out about these things if someone, somewhere isn’t deliberately working on letting us know about them? Similarly how can we expect our bosses to find out about what we have to offer if we aren’t letting them know? So in the spirit of the holiday season, let’s all go out and give the gift of US!!!
I read an article recently by Steve Tobak titled “The Problem with Know It All Managers“. The issue that Tobak presents is that often when people become managers, they start acting like they have all the answers. These managers stop asking questions and start telling everyone what the answers are. Tobak’s conclusion is that this is bad for employees and bad for the organization and bad for business. I agree but I have to ask myself what motivates people to become “know it all” managers? It could be arrogance or it could be an organizational culture that implies that value is linked to one’s ability to always have the answer. It is not uncommon for compensation and promotion decisions to be based if not explicity then implicitly on one’s reputation for always having the answers. Conversely and unfortunately, managers are often devalued by senior management and stakeholders when they are seen to ask a lot of questions, openly consider many alternatives, and rely on their subordinates for up to date subject matter expertise. As we transition from do-ers to leaders, our value to the organization needs to come from our ability to elicit knowledge, ideas, issues, and possible solutions from the workforce and then to use that information to develop and execute strategies that achieve differentiating business goals. Answers based on the experience of many are more valuable than answers based on the experience of one person. One of our challenges is to help our senior management and stakeholders recognize and appreciate the value to the business of this sort of higher order, leadership behavior.