Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
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7/28/2014
08:06 AM
David Wagner
David Wagner
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How To Be An Office Hero: 3 Myths, Busted

You rely on a set of social assumptions to get ahead at work, but some of those assumptions don't match with science.

because they're worried about crossing a social line. So it creates the sense that we should all be more assertive, except the problem is that people who are over-assertive don't know when they are, so the advice could be disastrous for those who are already too aggressive.

To respond to this finding you need trusted mentors and colleagues who can tell you when you've gone over the line. Be too aggressive too often and you run the risk of people not liking you. Worse yet, you won't even know it.

Myth No. 3: I don't have to be liked as long as I'm respected
This is true -- if you have no intention of ever having a job or convincing people of anything ever, especially over videoconferencing or social media. Otherwise, you're going to need to be likeable. A 2010 study showed that the early stages of an interview where likability is measured influences the perceptions of being qualified and the likelihood of getting a job.

And this Wall Street Journal article cites several studies that show it is extremely difficult to persuade people in an argument if the persuader isn't liked. This is especially true if the conversation is held over video conference or social media. Given how much of business is conducted over one or the other, you better start getting ready to shake some hands and kiss some babies.

When you can, have important meetings in person. Likability is less important than the argument in person (probably because most people are more likable by default in person). When you can't, the best way to be liked is to come across as genuine and trustworthy. Authentic stories are especially powerful in remote settings. And remember the lesson from myth two -- find some people you trust to help take a temperature reading of how people actually feel about you.

As you can probably tell, these three phenomena are tightly linked. People like people who keep their promises and know where the lines are socially. Managers often have to do things people don't like, such as making them stay late or giving them a tight deadline. As the second myth showed, no one likes a softy, either. It isn't hard to be an office hero if you spend just a little more time learning about human nature.

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David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
8/4/2014 | 6:15:34 PM
Re: Some goals are tricky
@Joe - I capisce.  I grew up the same way.  I also had an IT boss which apparently did as well.  He would promise the moon and stars to our users and dump it on us to figure it out.

Sometimes, I surprised myself how much I could really do when I had no other choice.

Sometimes though, it put us in the awkward position of having to explain to the user that we really couldn't do what we were asked, either because of limited knowledge, resources (human or capital) or time.  Many times the answer came down to this: we can't do what you want unless you are willing to spend X amount more money.

Budget constraints proved to be our savior on multiple occasions.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
8/4/2014 | 5:11:19 PM
Re: Likeability factor
@Technocrati - hahahaha. Yes...note to self: all women want to look good in their engagement pictures...not like they just rolled out of bed.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
8/4/2014 | 7:32:16 AM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
That's a great point, in most cases finishing a project earlier than promised doesn't earn you extra points.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
8/4/2014 | 7:27:24 AM
Re: Some goals are tricky
re: middle of the pack

That's certainly one prevailing philosophy -- not just where office politics and CRM is concerned, but also with life in general.  The A students are stressed out, built up for failure, and disappointed/embittered.  The F students are obvious failures.  It's the B and C students who excel in the long run.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
8/4/2014 | 7:25:26 AM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
@Dave: Good questions.  Here are my thoughts...

1) Not to the client... I'm using the word "overpromise" in a different sense, obviously.

2) If you're really delivering top-notch service/widgets/whatever, not only will your clients see and appreciate that, but it will make you a better competitor overall in terms of your capacity/infrastructure/what-have-you for attracting and retaining new clients in the future.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
8/1/2014 | 10:56:57 PM
Re: Likeability factor

Lesson: People are much happier when you manage their expectations PROPERLY.

 

@vnewman2   Thanks for passing along your account of this principle, one I surly won't forget.  : ) 

Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
8/1/2014 | 10:50:33 PM
Re: No more Mr. Scott

Some really good thoughts on over promising along this tread.   I agree it will set an artificial bar which over time will lead to burn out.   And let's face it - bosses don't really care if it is done earlier than planned, just as long as it get done by the deadline.

Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
8/1/2014 | 10:38:25 PM
The Office Hero and Personal Introspection

Thanks David for a really good look at some Office Hero Myths.   I am looking within to see how these myths apply to me, it is very interesting to be guilty of many of the misconceptions.   Two positve things (at least ) have come of this.  

1. I have even more awareness of areas of personal improvement and ... 

 

2. I know I am not alone.

pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Moderator
7/31/2014 | 11:39:30 PM
Re: Some goals are tricky
@Bhori,

That's not necessarily the case. You can still get the job done without making yourself a superstar. As long as you don't under-perform, you can still get promoted. It's a method to stay out of trouble, not necessarily shooting yourself in the foot.
Bhori
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Bhori,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 8:39:37 PM
Re: Some goals are tricky

Just stay right in the middle of the pack & try NOT to get noticed.

@ pcharles: Very well said. I believe this is the right way to stay for the time being at a place where performance doesn't matters a lot and promotions aren't expected or encouraged.

 

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