Last summer, I took a great class through the UW-Madison School of Business’ Executive Education Program (whew, that was a mouthful!) called How to Influence without Direct Authority. Taught by the brilliant, and pleasantly quirky, Buck Joseph and gifted speaker Chris Hinrichs,the Influence class strengthened my ability to clearly assess a colleague or client and take action based on this assessment.
Going into too much detail about the class would be like giving away the punchline to a great joke. If you are in a position without direct authority (or even if you are), you should sign up for this or one of the other classes offered by Executive Education. When we get in a rut or in our comfort zone (per my previous post), sometimes a class or workshop is just the kick in the pants you need to consider other perspectives.
I will give you a little nugget as a tease. Joseph and Hinrichs talk a lot about fear. So many professional interactions are instructed by a person’s fear. If you are afraid of insignificance, for example, you are most likely grappling for respect and recognition. And if you fail to receive this from colleagues, you may be teaming with resentment from the lack of recognition and soon become a bastion of negativity — in essence, you become the office Debbie Downer. Think. What are you afraid of? Now, communicate this to your boss. You’d be surprised how this may give you power and even respect. Try this with your boss:
“It’s really important for me to be recognized for my contributions to this organization because in the past, much of my hard work went unnoticed. Would you be willing to sit down with me and map out some goals I can work toward and a recognition program for reaching my goals? I think this would be very motivating for me.”
Is that you, reader, that I hear laughing? Would this really work? You don’t know unless you try. If you’re scared of going unnoticed, don’t expect everyone to recognize, understand or speak your fears. Get proactive and conquer your own.
Now, what if you manage this potential Debbie Downer? Well, I’m sorry…there’s no way around it. To be a good manager, you really need to take the time to know your direct reports – particularly to know their fears. If you know, for example, that Debbie is insecure and motivated by recognition, what does it hurt to publicly recognize her for a job well done? The answer is, it doesn’t hurt AND not only that, you’ve motivated an employee through allaying her fears.
Now that wasn’t so scary, was it?
What are your fears? Would love to hear from you. Email or comment.