How to Combine Team and Career
Groupthink / May 22, 2017

How to Combine Team and Career In my post, When Not to Take One for the Team, YOU were told that you had to take one for the team by not attending a conference you really want. You might have felt that, in that post, you gave into your boss Gwen’s insistence too easily, but as I pointed out in Downsides of Refusing to Take One for the Team, you can pay a steep price for refusing to accept the decision if you stubbornly stick to your ‘right’ to go. But you might be able to get something of what you want while avoiding the negative feelings that emanate if you insist. Compromise Let’s return to the conversation. This is what happened when you were pushing for an all-or-nothing solution. Gwen: Still, if nobody volunteers, I think we have to go with whose work is least relevant. You: Well, I think it’s relevant but if you think that it’s right for the team… Here’s another way to take this. Gwen: Still, if nobody volunteers, I think we have to go with whose work is least relevant. You:  I was wondering if we could compromise. The conference is three days. Could…

Downsides of Refusing to Take One for the Team
Groupthink / May 15, 2017

Downsides of Refusing to Take One for the Team In the previous post, YOU made your case for going to an important conference but were overruled by the boss. But YOU might feel that you didn’t fight hard enough. You might be right—more argument might make a difference. However, you could win the battle but lose the war. Winning the battle but losing the war As I have mentioned in other posts, the pressure to get along within a team can be overwhelming. And from the manager’s or company’s point of view, that’s a good thing. A harmonious work environment is pleasant and assumed to be optimally productive. (This isn’t always true, of course—see my post Getting Along Can Do You In). But in order to create this harmony, everybody in the group has to implicitly agree not to rock the boat. Those who break that rule (like continuing to push going to a conference) are at least frowned upon, if not actively sanctioned. “That’s not fair!” I can hear you say. “People should not be punished for sticking up for themselves.” Absolutely right. However, the desire for harmony trumps almost everything else in the work place. What are the…

When Not to Take One for the Team
Groupthink / May 8, 2017

When Not to Take One for the Team As I covered in the previous post, taking one for the team, or putting yourself at a disadvantage in order to help, is often the right way to go. But sometimes, it isn’t. When to stick to your guns When this is very, very important to you and/or your career. Maybe you need to attend because you are actively scouting for a new job. Naturally, you can’t say that but you need to go. When you think it’s somebody else’s turn. You may already know that, for example, Tim has been to the conference every year for the last five. When you feel you are being unfairly pressured. It’s not as probable in the scenario I’ve laid out, but if you feel that you’re targeted, you may want to resist. How do you avoid volunteering? In the original scenario, your boss, Gwen, asked YOU, Tim, or Sacha to forego the conference. Let’s pick up the conversation from that point. Reprise Gwen: I was kind of hoping for a volunteer.   DO NOT be the first to speak no matter the length of the silence. The first to speak often puts himself into…

Taking One for the Team?
Groupthink / April 24, 2017

Taking One for the Team? Taking one for the team—it seems to have originated with baseball (thanks, Wikipedia!)—but is often used in work settings. It usually means agreeing to personally take on an unpalatable task in order to help your team.  Let’s look at an example. You work in a large company with a history of developing its people, but upheavals in the industry have meant cutbacks of all kinds. You’ve been in your job for two years and, every year, the company allows your unit (three of you—YOU, Sacha, and Tim—and your manager—Gwen) to attend the conference in your field. You’ve learned a lot each time and made useful contacts you’ve used in your work. Gwen calls a team meeting. Gwen: I’ve just had a management meeting. The budget is really tight. No lay-offs, at least for now, but they’re cutting back in other ways. You: Like what? Gwen: Well, for one thing, I only have money for three of us to attend the conference later this year. Sacha: One of us can’t go? Gwen: I’m afraid so. Tim: So who? Gwen: (not looking at anyone) Well, I was kind of hoping for a volunteer. Someone who would take…

Are You Being Taken for Granted on the Job?
bringing yourself to work / April 17, 2017

Are You Being Taken for Granted on the Job? In previous posts, you actually had it good when your boss valued you too much to let you go. You get the same outcome but none of the kudos if it is taken for granted you will do your job well. Some jobs are easier to take for granted. Examples might be the background organization of a big meeting or convention, production of a regular report, or delivery of a well-established program. Here, obviously, fighting fires is considered failure. Other jobs seem to consist largely of putting out fires. People in them are more likely to be hailed as company heroes but frankly, even a job like that can fall into this category if the incumbent tries hard enough. How do you know if you’re being taken for granted? It’s mostly a feeling but here are some cues: A proposal impacts your area but nobody consults on whether it will cause you glitches. Your work problems are considered trivial (e.g. the sound system isn’t up to the size of the room). Your evaluations emphasize “does a good job; delivers what is required” and not “exciting new project successfully delivered” or “huge…