When I matriculated at the University of Virginia for my undergraduate degree, I started as a first-year student, not as a freshman. As I progressed through school, I became a second-year, third-year, and fourth-year student. The grades were intentionally named that way. The idea was that after four years, students would be ready to graduate (hopefully) from the university, but they would continue their learning even after they graduated. The purpose of naming the grades in progression was to encourage all their students to have an attitude of being self-educated.
As a professional, you will need to cultivate a lifelong learning perspective. You will progress in your career better if you keep that attitude throughout your working life. You will also feel more fulfilled personally as a result of always growing in your knowledge.
Here’s a process for keeping yourself self-educated.
Communication is the single biggest problem area in any organization. Many times people do not think through their communications with others. As a result, communication breakdowns are common. But they can be overcome. It requires that you be intentional in design and consistent in implementation. And you can learn how to communicate better.
If you’ve ever played the game of telephone you know how information can’t get scrambled going from one person to the next. If you multiply that one-way communication into a one-to-many relationship—and then allow communication from receiving parties to other receiving parties—you have the makings of a complete communication breakdown.
There are five things you need to “get” to communicate better and improve your relationship with your team.
My family recently hosted a foreign exchange student at our house for about a month. When he arrived at our house, his first question to me was “What are the rules at your house?” Not wanting to sound like some kind of ogre, I said, “We don’t have too many rules at our house.” And I told him a couple of rules that we had in our house. And I thought that was that.
Over time, I noticed that he did some things that annoyed me. And my thought was “That’s really rude. Why doesn’t he know any better?”
I told him that I was disappointed with what he was doing. Later he told me, “You didn’t tell me what all the rules were.” Then I realized I couldn’t hold him accountable for something I didn’t tell him. He had asked to know what the rules were, but I didn’t tell him what they all were.
This same thing applies to your employees at your workplace, but they won’t necessarily ask you what the rules of your culture are. That’s incumbent on you to tell them. They won’t know how to operate in your organizational culture if you don’t tell them.
Here are the things you need to tell your people so they know how to follow the rules of your culture.
The Scripture has a lot to say about today’s workplace. Even though it may use words that may seem strange in today’s parlance, it applies directly to the modern day.
Here are five words taken from Colossians 3:22 and Ephesians 6:5-6 that provide a guide for how to function in today’s workplace.
Harry Truman said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” If it’s all about you, then you won’t get much done. But if you are willing to share the credit with others, then you will end up getting a lot done.
People want to be part of something larger than themselves. When they feel like they are contributing and seeing progress, then they are more likely to want to stay at it. But a leader who doesn’t see the team’s need to be recognized will lose their team very quickly.
Here are three things to implement a team culture by focusing on giving credit to others on the team.
True success in the workplace doesn’t look like what most people expect it to look like. They think it means occupying the corner office. Having lots of money. Being a powerful individual. But that’s not true success looks like.
Jesus said that the Son of Man came to serve, not to be served (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45). That model of leadership applies not only to the realm of faith, but also to the realm of business.
Here’s what true success looks like in the workplace.
Which conversations do you dread? Are they with an employee or colleague who doesn’t seem to do what they should? Are they the ones with your teenager about what they do or don’t do? Are they with your spouse over who’s going to get their way? Your ability to have success in your interpersonal relations will be as a result of having uncomfortable conversations.
No one wants to have to talk about that stuff. And yet that’s how you are able to make the relationship progress to becoming better than it is now. But it requires that you persevere through those uncomfortable conversations.
Here are three levels to which your workplace and personal relationships will improve as a result of having uncomfortable conversations.
After I recently guest lectured to MBA students at a local university, one of the students asked me a question about alignment. I explained that one of the most important things for a leader to do is to be able to connect long-term goals to short-term actions. And leaders can do that best when they can share the big picture.
As a leader, it is imperative that you always remind your team why they are there. Help them to understand the purpose behind your company. Give them a reason to see that the little actions they do every day are important to accomplishing a bigger goal. Help them to see that they are many artists contributing to one masterpiece.
No job is exciting all the time. There are times that every job will have its drudgery. You can either inspire your people to put in their best efforts in even the drudgery, or you can let them trudge on their own just for their paycheck. It’s your choice whether you will help your people see only the little areas they are contributing, or if you will help them see how they are contributing to the big picture.
Here are three ways you can remind your team of the big picture when they are trudging through their daily grind.
In today’s culture, you don’t often see people give a real apology. They don’t even acknowledge that they have done anything wrong. They make excuses for their behavior, and they try to skirt around the issue. As a result, they say nothing of any importance, and their relationship with the offended party worsens.
Today nobody expects anyone to apologize anymore. People want to save face and pretend that they haven’t done anything wrong. Politicians say they are “sorry IF they have offended anyone.” But that doesn’t deal with anything and it doesn’t help their credibility improve.
So what does a real apology look like? Here are three steps to making a real apology and what you can expect to happen as a result.
When I was a new manager, I had the hardest time giving constructive feedback to my assistant. When it was time to share with her what she needed to know to help her improve, I couldn’t even get the words out. It was so difficult for me to say, that I had to try multiple times just to be able to tell her—because I was too concerned about saying what she might have thought was bad news.
My early days as a manager showed one extreme of improper communication in giving performance reviews. Other managers think that yelling the hard truth is the best way to give bad news. They think that it’s OK to say whatever they think needs to be said, without thinking about what it would feel like to be on the receiving end of what they said. Clearly both extremes are not helpful.
So how should we give bad news? What’s the best way to help employees improve? Here are four tips for how to say what needs to be said, even if it’s bad news.