All managers have had this conversation at some point in time with a peer, “if Steve could just have more of a backbone.” Or perhaps you’ve said, “Mary is just a little abrupt, I wish she could have some self awareness.”
Whatever the character trait that you’ve wished upon your employees, you wish for change often times. While there is no such thing as the perfect employee, we as managers sure wish we had access to create, clone and hire as many of them as we want, at competitive market prices of course.
I find myself wanting some of the same qualities in my staff, and while I can wish and hope all day long that some of my staff will develop these traits, I’ll be hopeful that the next person I hire will embody them.
While this list could be upwards of 500 items, I figured we would keep it to three.
1. A Spine
In every work situation we must be able to stand up for ourselves, our peers, and most importantly our company. Whether you are answering the angry customer complaints or dealing with customers who are unhappy with the outcome of a project, very employee on staff needs to be able to answer accordingly and with strength even if they don’t necessarily agree.
Spineless employees can bring down a culture. Simply put, they have the ability to stop camaraderie and typically they will be your most negative and passive aggressive on staff.
I remember one particular incident in which my client consistently called me to ask why I was causing some of these issues they had become aware of. Turns out, my spineless employee couldn’t own up to the fact that they had made a mistake so the blame got shifted to me, the manager.
Spineless employees will trash the company, not just because they are too weak to speak the truth but because its the only way they know how. When Interviewing, ask how they have dealt with conflict in prior incidents and I guarantee you will learn if they are a jellyfish or not.
2. A Chameleon’s Personality
The office is a melting pot, and your company has major pressures to keep it this way. Only in Hitler’s company would everyone walk talk and look alike. Diversity plays a major role in every organization and you must adapt to this.
A chameleon’s personality is key as a young white male in your twenties explaining why you need your project tended to immediately by the 35 year veteran of the staff who goes by the name of Mean Susie. If you can’t connect with everyone in that office then you will burn down walls quickly and be an outsider faster than you could imagine.
Being a chameleon is all about connecting with various personalities and learning how to adapt to them when need be. Having the attitude of, “they can adapt to me” simply won’t work. Every office needs chameleons in it and without them we would never communicate properly or have any sense of company morale.
When interviewing ask questions about diversity in their previous office and find out how they handled working with various personalities.
This should be number one on everyone’s list but I don’t want to get greedy. Does the office smoke realize she can be smelt from the break room? Does the close talker need to speak directly to your nose? When will your sales person with the loud mouth realize the customer has already said no? And how many cues do you have to give to get Shirley out of your office before you literally set your desk on fire?
Self awareness can’t be taught because if it could, it would be the first workshop your office sent you to ahead of sexual harassment. If we had self awareness then sexual harassment would be cut in half in the workplace.
How do we teach this? We don’t, but what we can do is make sure people are aware each time they make a faux paux that needs to be addressed. If we consistently allow people to get away with these annoy non self aware tactics then we can’t ever expect anyone to improve.
When interviewing, take the candidate to lunch and see how they interact with people. This will tell you a lot of what you need to know.
Did we miss any? What other skill do you wish your employees had?