Don't Rely on Your Mind Reading Powers in the Workplace
Have you ever wanted your boss to ask you about your career goals?
Have you ever wished a co-worker would stop the excessive and distracting chatter?
Have you ever hoped you’d be asked what processes are holding your team back?
There’s nothing wrong with wanting any of these things – but if you’re hoping others are going to intuitively know what you want – you’re going to be disappointed.
Because mind reading isn’t a real thing.
Too often we hesitate to express ourselves for fear of upsetting others, or worry that we will be seen in a negative light. If this is you, it’s time to change your thinking.
Say what needs to be said
I once worked for an executive who not only encouraged his team to speak up, but to say what needed to be said. Not because he liked to incite conflict but because when things go unsaid it quickly erodes morale, reduces productivity and is ultimately bad for the business.
The office culture actually revolved around this credo and the team’s success reflected it. Employees felt confident about speaking up about important issues and the team understood that the intent was well placed. Whether it was a desire to build new skills or deliver a difficult message about a client account, everyone was accustomed to saying what needed to be said.
A recipe for disaster
Pretending things are A-Okay when in fact they’re not is a slow descent into the abyss. When we fail to address issues, whether it be our own career development or a pressing business matter, things begin to fester. As time goes on matters devolve and issues worsen.
While you don’t get to pick the culture of your workplace, you do get to decide how you are going to handle yourself. And take it from me, you can say what needs to be said, even in an organization that is painfully inept at hearing it.
Here’s how you do it:
Put your organization first. When delivering a difficult message always keep in mind why it’s important to the organization that the information is shared. When you take yourself out of the equation it’s easier to deliver the message.
Empathy is important. There are times when we must say something that will be difficult for the recipient to hear. Empathy can make these conversations not only easier but productive. (I’m not sure who to attribute this quote but it has always resonated with me when it comes to delivering a difficult message, “Honesty with empathy is compassion, honesty without empathy is cruelty.”)
Practice saying what needs to be said. The more you speak up, the easier it gets. Believe in your ability and in the importance of your words. Always be professional and don’t let others dissuade you from doing the right thing.
Put yourself in your manager’s shoes. Information doesn’t always make it to management. Believe it or not, managers and executives don’t know everything that’s going on in each work group. They need you to keep them informed so they can be effective in their roles. While there are some executives who prefer to believe that everything is unicorns and rainbows, 100% of the time, most want the truth – you have a responsibility to deliver it.
Managers share the responsibility
As a manager you should:
- Encourage an environment in which your team feels comfortable bringing you the unvarnished version of reality. Support publicly the practice of saying what needs to be said.
- Don’t react emotionally when presented with something difficult. The situation probably doesn’t need to be solved immediately, so take some time before deciding on next steps.
- Don’t shoot the messenger. If you have employees who are willing to say what needs to be said, foster that dynamic and thank them for bringing you the information.
- If your employees seek to discuss their career growth with you, have that conversation. Explore their goals and offer honest feedback and suggestions. This is how you develop talent.
Mind reading is an interesting concept and makes for intriguing story lines in works of fiction – it does not, however, have a role in the workplace.
Now is the time for you to go confidently forward and “Say what needs to be said!”
NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work
Written by: Jon Sabes
When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward.
However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:
- He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
- He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
- When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
- While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
- In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.
Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.
Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.
Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.
His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”
When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”
On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.
“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”
That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing. Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.
Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”
When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it. He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.
I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.
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