Barbara Mintzer's Newsletter
One of the questions I am often asked is: "How can I be more powerful at work?" We all want the work we do to have meaning and stand for something. I have been asked this question by business leaders, nursing professionals, government workers, and people running their own businesses. As a matter of fact, I have to continually ask this same question of myself. "How can I make a positive impact, a difference, in the lives of the people I touch?" Many people have told me they would not mind putting in the hard work and the effort, as long as they felt that what they did stood for something. I decided to research this question and I came up with five strategies for becoming more powerful at work. This Newsletter will discuss the following five strategies:
1. The single most important character trait a person can possess is authenticity ... what you see is what you get! When employees know they can trust you to say what you mean, and mean what you say, you hold a lot of power. They will invest themselves in your behalf if they believe in you and believe you have THEIR best interests at heart. Your staff may be smarter than you give them credit for ... they will be able to "smell" a hidden agenda even if they cannot articulate it. They will know if you are authentic or just going through the motions. The way to keep your power of authenticity is to show up and tell the truth!
Many managers I have worked with have told me the reason they did not tell their employees the truth was because they were afraid the employees would not be able to handle it. In fact, the reason the managers did not tell the employees the truth had nothing to do with the employees, and everything to do with the managers' reluctance and uncomfortability with confrontation. The first person to tell the truth to is yourself. Acknowledge your weakness and then do what you need to do. If these managers would have met with the employees and shared their uncomfortability with confrontation and THEN told the truth, it would have made a huge impact. We are all human, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Sharing both with your staff when it is in THEIR best interests is indeed powerful.
2. There is tremendous power in committing yourself to a job, a cause, or a purpose, and seeing it through ... no matter what. Your commitment will be the compass you need to steer you in the right direction. Your commitment will give you the focus you need to stay on track. Commitment is motivation that is inner directed. You are powerful at work when you stay committed to the task, even when it is difficult to do. Commitment is a wonderful trait to role model. We live in a disposable age today. I don't like it, I throw it away. This job has some rough spots, I'm out of here! A person who sees the job through exemplifies the discipline and moral strength it takes to be successful in work and in life.
Commit to being the best you can be in whatever job you are presently in. You may not be in this job forever, but for now, this is where your loyalty should be. Give the work you do the respect it deserves, and it will serve you well in your next endeavor. It is easy to feel like a victim when there are many changes happening in your workplace. However, you have control over how you approach your work, regardless of the circumstances. Make it a challenge to yourself to find ways to do your work more innovatively, more creatively and more joyfully. For now, you can make your work a source of satisfaction to you, rather than a "chore" that must be done.
3. I know you have heard that oft-quoted comment "I love my work; it's the people around me that I can't stand." Too bad. We get to work with them anyway. Unfortunately, we do not get to pick the people we work with ... that comes with the territory. We do not have to like the people we work with. We do, however, have to respect them and communicate with them in a way that helps all of us get the job done and work in an environment that is free from fear or hostility. Everyone wants to be appreciated and acknowledged for the work they do. In exit interview after exit interview, when an employee is asked why he/she is leaving the company, an overwhelming number of employees said: "I don't feel appreciated for the work I do." What a waste of a precious resource, a waste that probably could have been avoided. I came across the following comment that speaks to just this issue:
Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Compliment the people you work with on a job well done. If you are in management, make it a point to catch the people who work for you "doing something right" and praise them for it. Your praise may be the only positive acknowledgment they will get all day. It is easier to see the mistakes and the glaring errors than it is to see the everyday good work people do. But take the time to find them doing it and acknowledge them for it. You will find it was time well spent.
4. Many of us are far more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. I know myself, for example. When I am getting anxious or overwhelmed with something going on in my life, I have to remind myself to look back on how much I have already been through, and I'm still here to tell the story! Doing that helps me keep my present situation in perspective. We live in a fast-paced, scary world. Workplaces in every industry are experiencing constant change, and people are expected to change on a dime. Years ago when you took a job with a company, you could expect to work there forever if you chose to do so. That is not the case today. The only thing your company can promise you is that you will add to your bank of knowledge and skills on this job, and that you can take them to another if you should have to do so. But, that's quite positive when you look at it. I have a quote on a little card pasted to my computer that says "Every exit is an entrance somewhere else." by Tom Stoppard. Today's changes hold the seeds of tomorrow's opportunities.
Resilient people are opportunity-oriented. They see every situation, good or bad, as an opportunity. If we could all learn to be opportunity-oriented it would serve us well. We would not worry so much about the outside circumstances of our lives, because we will be inner-directed to move in positive directions. When you learn to see life in the context of opportunities and possibilities, things happen. Your ability to see beyond today's events is a powerful tool in the workplace. It puts you in the role of the innovator rather than the victim.
5. The ability to form relationships that benefit everyone concerned is a powerful trait. I am sure you know of someone in your workplace who is the informal leader simply because of his/her ability to work with people. It's that "charisma" that you can't quite define, but you know it when someone has it. The charismatic person has the ability to bring people on board who will buy into his/her vision and work towards achieving it. Never underestimate the power of people skills. Today nobody works in a vacuum. Teamwork is more important than ever, and the person who can lead a cohesive, productive, positive team wields a lot of power in the workplace.
How can you become more relationship oriented? One way is by taking an interest in the people you work with or if you are a manager, the people who work for you. You do not have to know the intimate details of their lives, but do you know their spouses' names? Do you know if they have children? Do you know if they are going through difficult times that might affect their job performance? Do you know their aspirations for their careers? Do you know how you can help them? These are questions you want to ask yourself. Of all the resources an organization can possess, its people are the greatest asset. Yet it is the one asset that is the most under-utilized. Don't let that happen in your organization. Make the effort to get to know the people who share your workplace with you. All of you will benefit from it.
Wow, we have had a lot to think about in this Newsletter. If you have any insights, feedback or experiences you would like to share, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to hear from you and all requests to remain anonymous will be honored. If you wish to pass this Newsletter along to a colleague who may find it of value, feel free to do so. If that person would like to receive the Newsletter, e-mail me with the address, and I will put it on my database. If you know of an organization or association that would benefit from my message, please let me know. Thanks so much; have a wonderful month.
About the Author
Barbara Mintzer is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant with over 30 years in business and health care. She speaks from experience! Her how-to programs provide participants with immediately applicable skills and strategies for getting buy-in and commitment from staff and staying on top of their professions in today's competitive and constantly changing workplace. Barbara presents keynote talks and breakout sessions for international, national, regional and state Conferences. She also conducts management retreats and in-house seminars. She facilitates panel discussions and roundtables at the same meeting...a good investment for your meeting budget. To explore the possibility of having Barbara speak at your next event, or work with your staff/leadership team, please contact her office.