This past weekend, my husband insisted we clean up the basement, and go through a bunch of old boxes. I discovered performance evaluations, memos, status reports, and some project plans dating back from when I started working until I started my business.
I discovered a major pattern about my approach to work: Since I’ve never been particularly patient when it’s obvious my organization requires major changes, I’ve written strong memos, urging management action since the beginning of my career!
Regardless of the correctness of my evaluation of the situation, each memo has a common problem: it’s written in a way that would make the reader defensive, and would make my manager want to fire me. Most of my managers resisted that temptation, but not all 🙂 Worst of all, the memos made it difficult for the managers to choose any action other than the One True Way I’d discussed. Ouch.
Now that I’m a consultant, I still write memos urging action, but I take specific steps to ensure I don’t blame people for the current situation, and I offer alternatives so that the management team has choices about which actions to take, and when.
I know I still have patterns. I’m still not particularly patient, but I don’t think that’s going to change. I have made changes in certain behaviors though. Now when I suggest changes, I try to supply multiple alternatives, so people realize they have more than the One Right Way to change. I suggest techniques to make small changes, so the group (and I) can see progress. And I don’t write nasty memos anymore.
My trip down memory lane was illuminating. If you haven’t looked back at your career, look for your patterns. You’ll find that you repeat specific behaviors, whether they are successful or not. You may not be able to change your personality, but you can change your reactions to events where your personality may make it difficult to work with others. Especially managers. Especially if you were to do something career-limiting, such as writing nasty memos 🙂